Monday, November 28, 2005

Urban pioneers transform downtown L.A.

Pedro Galindo moved into the Higgins Building four years ago, part of the first wave of urban adventurers who set roots in the fledging loft district north of Skid Row.

Back then, the 24-year-old substitute teacher recalls, the converted early 20th Century office tower had a definite vibe.

"The coolest people were here. There were rooftop parties and barbecues," he said. "It was a very social building. You would have parties every weekend."

That began to change two years ago, when the Higgins converted from apartments to condos, with units now selling for up to $700,000.

The new crop of resident-owners, who include Galindo and his sister, Natalia, who bought the unit they were renting, hired a concierge to provide "enhanced security" for the building. The new owners brought in a valet to park their cars at a nearby lot. Galindo said the social scene took a hit, too, as the building seemed to become more insular.

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