Real estate: National landmark to shine again


Not every developer would take on a project that once sent a man to jail. But when architect and urbanist partners Moule & Polyzoides were offered the opportunity to transform Pasadena's famed Vista del Arroyo Bungalows from an abandoned heap into housing, they leapt at the chance.

Stefanos Polyzoides first became familiar with the property in 1983, when he was an architecture professor at USC. Pasadena Heritage, a community-supported preservation organization working to maintain the city's architectural legacy, approached Polyzoides to create a plan with his students to save the national landmark, which was built between 1920 and 1938 as part of the Vista del Arroyo Hotel (now a U.S. Court of Appeals). The property had been locked in a battle between Pasadena Heritage and a developer who, Polyzoides says, was ultimately jailed for engaging in illegal activities during the process. Polyzoides and his class worked on the plans, but at the time, nothing much came of them.

Fast-forward 17 years: Polyzoides and his partner and wife, Elizabeth Moule, in business for themselves, had just completed Los Angeles' urban courtyard residence Seven Fountains in West Hollywood when Pasadena Heritage approached them again in 2000, this time officially. The architects immediately formed a company with the developers of Seven Fountains to buy Vista del Arroyo, which, after being abandoned for 30 years, was in shambles.

$30 million later, the result is 30 luxury units, all planned around courtyards and ranging in price from $995,000-$2.3 million. The original eight bungalows retain their original floor plans (though kitchens were added), and some even have original windows. In addition, the architects built three new villas nestled into a hill adjacent to the Colorado Street Bridge.

The project is of significant historic value, but it also signals a trend toward new urbanism, which Polyzoides defines as "understanding architecture within the context of making cities and a neighborhood." Polyzoides is one of the founders of a group called Congress for New Urbanism, which now has 3,000 members all devoted to the cause.

The firm is currently working on a project in Tucson, Ariz. that will construct a neighborhood from scratch, complete with a market in the center intended to attract pedestrian traffic from the complex and beyond, as well as planning courtyard-living projects in Palos Verdes, Pasadena and Ventura. "There's no shortage of challenges

for people who really care about building places of character," Polyzoides says. "The headlines may be in the hands of people who develop glass boxes and skyscrapers, but everyone wants a place to live that has meaning to them."


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National landmark to shine again