The Village, the Heart of Laguna

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 beach haven John NewlanderBeachhaven

By John Newlander, Special to the Coastal Real Estate Guide

Style and architecture: Picket fences, clapboard cottages, narrow streets, Dutch doors, flowering front yard gardens, beach arrow signs, ocean front cottages and villas, intimate boutiques, quaint coffee shops, quiet neighborhoods, lush vegetation, every home unique, walkers of all kinds: these are just a few of the things that come to mind as I walk my neighborhood of 27 years. Beach cottage, Spanish revival, Craftsman, and Cape Cod are common architectural styles to be found here. Some people compare The Village to European villages because of the quaintness of the architecture and the coziness of our small avenues. What strikes me the most, and what has kept me here for so many years, is the pride in ownership and the unique sense of “specialness” exuded by The Village residents.

The Village defined? The Village can be roughly defined as bordered on the north by Park Avenue, to the east by Temple Terrace and Wendt Terrace, to the south by Calliope Street, and to the West by the Pacific Ocean; however, several neighboring areas will lay claim to the title of The Village. The Village can be generally described as the more flatland area of central Laguna Beach, although all of Laguna is on some kind of slope or hillside.

History: Little is spoken of the history of this area of Laguna Beach, which is one of the oldest sections of the city. But what brings its past into perspective for me is recalling a story told to me by a lady I knew who lived on Oak Street. She recalled that in the early 1900’s the only paved road in The Village was Thalia Street. So in the winter after the rains, they would drive up Thalia in their Model T and then slide down their muddy dirt road to arrive at their home: up and over on rainy days.

How the community has evolved: When I think of how the community in The Village has evolved I am always drawn back to the balance between cottage appeal and view access. “Peak” has always been a common term used in The Village to describe the views. And what has always impressed me is how many of these homeowners have been able to increase their “peak” views to “panoramic” views by expanding upwards in the rear of their homes without compromising their home’s cottagey street appeal. Maintaining the village “charm” is paramount in any remodel design. Even brand new construction is designed with sensitivity for adhering to The Village “character.”

Community features: All within walking distance are the many shops along Coast Highway including The Pottery Barn, The Village shops, Ralphs, and the numerous restaurants, cafes, boutiques, art galleries, music stores, and much more. Many east/west streets end their western journey at the beach with full public access. A common feature of the homes here is outside showers for washing sandy feet after a trip to the beach. This is truly a beach-oriented community; it trades the more dramatic views to be enjoyed in the higher areas of town for easy beach access and the ability to walk to anything that Laguna Beach has to offer.

Why do I love it here? There is a true sense of community that one feels in The Village. Because of its cozy lifestyle, The Village fosters a neighborly atmosphere. This friendly environment makes living and working in town a true pleasure. The convenience of being able to walk anywhere in town is rare in Southern California and this pedestrian lifestyle makes The Village very unique and special. One of my favorite things to do each year is to walk down to Thalia Street Beach on July 4, settle back in my beach chair, enjoy watching the fireworks amongst my neighbors, and then walking leisurely back home. I feel uniquely honored to be a real estate agent lucky enough to work in my own neighborhood and to serve my fellow Village neighbors.

Current market activity: There have been 18 single family homes sold in the last six months with prices ranging from $870,000 to $5.8 million. There are currently 16 active listings ranging from $1.3 million to $15 million. The average sold price per square foot in the last six months was $1,355 versus an average current list price per square foot of $1,863. Average number of days on the market for properties sold in The Village in the last six months was 149 days versus 151 days for all of Laguna Beach.

Information provided by John Newlander, Realtor with First Team Estates & Christie’s International Real Estate. Contact John at 949-701-7415 or by email at jnewlander@cox.net.