Westwood Village is
Los Angeles' premiere village centre - centrally located in the heart of Los Angeles,
serving the neighborhoods of Bel Air, Holmby Hills,
Wilshire Corridor, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades,
Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Santa Monica.
This charming and unique area displays a rich history recognizable by its
architecturally significant buildings, many of which were built in the 30's and
40's. Architectural styles include New Orleans Revival, American Colonial
Revival, Mediterranean, Spanish Colonial Revival, Period Revival, Post-war
Modern, French Regency, and Classical Revival.
Historic Westwood Village is being
revitalized with a unique collection of retail offerings,
galleries and restaurants that will cater to all of Los
Angeles but most especially to its area residents.
Westwood Village enjoys its
proximity to densely populated and wealthy communities with
household incomes averaging $113,379 within a 3-mile radius.
Built in 1928, Westwood
Village was conceived and built by the Janus family as a
retail village. Its charming streets and architecture
offer some of the finest environments for retailing in Los
Many original tenants remain
in the village, such as the single screen theatres and
Stan's Donuts which add to the allure of Westwood Village as
a charming destination.
By: Jason Mandl
To impart new life or vigor. To bring
again into activity and prominence. Revitalization. This
is what Westwood Village is uniquely positioned to receive
at this very moment.
As the word implies, Westwood Village
was once a thriving cultural epicenter in a city known for
its sprawl and microcosms. One of the few places in Los
Angles, where it is even remotely reasonable to ditch the
car and walk. And as such, in typical human fashion,
everyone wanted a piece of a good thing.
John Wolfskill saw the potential when he
purchased the then ”Rancho San Jose de Buenos Ayres” in 1884
for ten dollars an acre for farming. Then the University of
California bought in at $1.32 Million for 375 acres. In the
early 1920s, The Janss Investment Corp. announced they would
develop “one of the most unusual business districts in the
United States.” Electing a Mediterranean architectural
theme, Westwood Village was born. In came the church, the
bank, the University, diverse restaurants, shops, and
ultimately the world renowned Geffen Playhouse Theatre.
The Village was vitalized and things were well.
But we are talking about revitalization,
right? So what happened to this European-themed, walking
microvillage as the big city grew? Well somewhere along the
way, the vision for Westwood Village got clouded. The
Village endured a string of youth-driven acts of violence.
Foot traffic was rapidly outpaced by vehicular traffic.
Character-based local businesses had to compete with the
marketing dollars of large corporate chains. And even the
local community became divided into factions who spent more
time infighting than focusing on the task they were all
charted to protect…the integrity and best interest of the
But again, back to the good news.
Revitalization. The Village has seen the ebbs and flows any
significant community can expect, and is poised to make some
changes and enjoy a massive resurgence. The question now is
only this: who will be along for the ride? The LAPD has
reported several years of decreased crime and vandalism,
landowners are rebuilding properties and taking the
opportunity to re-outfit their previous tenants the likes of
McDonalds, in favor of sidewalk cafes. The UCLA students
are using The Village in fewer numbers than before, opening
the doors back to the surrounding adults. A return to the
roots? A Renaissance revival of sorts?
And what could be better than a bunch of
visionaries targeting the revitalization of a community
where a single-family residence costs more than the entire
city did a century ago? Clearly, a bunch of visionaries
backed by developers with hundreds of millions of dollars in
capital to execute on that vision. Developers like the Alan
Kasden, Kam Heckmat and the Topa Management Company fit this
description, and are committed to bringing the
revitalization of The Westwood Village to bear.
It is time to refocus the attention back
to the adults. A classy hotel, a few new restaurants, a
world class art gallery, abundant parking and a return to
the pleasantries of the European marketplace on which it was
founded, and Westwood Village will be competing with the Old
Towns, Melrose and Montana Avenues, Main Streets and
Robertson Boulevards that have stolen away the foot traffic
that more regularly frequented the businesses here. There
are only a handful of places in Los Angeles that can offer
this potential to new business, residents, and visitors
alike. And even fewer with reasonable rents.
Though not quite as ripe as getting in
on ”Rancho San Jose de Buenos Ayres” for ten dollars an
acre, Westwood Village presents a truly unique opportunity
to get involved in a project that is slated for major change
and development without looking to the suburbs to try and
guess just how far we can develop (or sprawl) the “Greater
Los Angeles Area.”
Get involved. Revitalize Westwood