Echo Park’s “Big Mama Court” goes up for sale at a steep price

Big Mama Court McAllister Manor 1-26-2013 2-39-29 AM

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Masa of Echo Park

Eastside PropertyECHO PARK — “Big Mama Court” was the nickname given to this Spanish-Colonial style apartment complex by the authors of the 1982 book Courtyard Housing in Los Angeles in “honor of its tenacious manager.” Now, the Echo Park Avenue property, composed of several buildings separated by narrow passageways and courtyards, is up for sale at an asking price of $7.495 million. What would Big Mama have to say about that?

The listing description on LoopNet says the 32-unit “trophy” property  located in “one of the hippest neighborhoods of the country” is on the market for the first time in 27 years. Says the listing:

The property has tremendous upside potential in rents, excellent curb appeal and long frontage on Echo Park Ave, gated community, city views from some of the units and on-site laundry facility.

The complex is one of the many of the courtyard apartments and bungalow courts that were built in Echo Park during the first decades of the 20th Century.  “Despite the existence of a small fountain, this unusual courtyard is carried out like a public narrow street of dimensions and light quality that are intensely Mediterranean,” said the authors of Courtyard Housing.

While the authors of Courtyard Housing dubbed it “Big Mama Court,” the complex at one point was known as McCallister Manor, with its name prominently displayed on a roof-top neon sign that is long-gone, according to the Echo Park Historical Society

Big Mama Court McAllister Manor 1-26-2013 2-41-04 AM

Big Mama Court McAllister Manor 1-26-2013 2-40-06 AM


  1. I love this building! That’s a good price for apartments of that quality. They don’t make ’em like that anymore. I only wish they would restore the original kitchen/bathrooms instead on throwing Home Depot crap at them. Keeping these buildings historically accurate brings the price up. Throwing cheapo Home Depot counters/ tiles in these old beauties lowers their worth.

  2. I had a friend who used to live in a studio. Its a lovely building, her apartment was small but it was just her so it served its purpose. $8 million dollars though, wow.

  3. Everyone there has rent control and has lived there for a long time. There is no way you could make your money back on that with the current tenants.

    • That didn’t stop the folks who bought the Jensen Building apartments AND they are investing quite a bit of money of refurbishing, taking the time to bring back some of the former glory of the grand Jensen Building. I have no doubt this property will sell at this price with the investors looking toward the future. This doesn’t mean folks will get kicked out, it just means new tenants will pay market rates as units become available.

    • yes, which is why the current tenants are all going to get nice big checks to go away.

    • I wouldn’t mind getting a nice big check to go away. My last landlord gave my neighboring tenant 30 grand to move out and she used it for a down payment on a condo. Just sayin’

  4. All of the other spaces that sold for top dollar have retail space. And, more than likely, in better shape than this building. and the del mar has parking. Still I’ll bet it goes for over asking price even with garages too small for actual cars.

    • Carsmakepeoplestupid

      The garages were built for cars Kelly. A small foreign car can easily fit in them, sorry it won’t fit your Hummer though. It’s called living within your means. But no, the going logic is for folks to run out and buy the latest SUV then bitch about lack of street parking. Learn how to take care of your own purchases and not place that responsibility on the public. Better yet, EP has plenty of buses that lead to trains. In the age of Uber, Zipcar, Red/Purple/Green/Blue/Gold/Expo lines there really isn’t any reason to even own a car. It’s a stupid investment that begins to depreciate the moment you drive it off of the lot.

      • Cars are not an investment – they are tools to be used until they can no longer function.
        Also, while I approve of multi-modal transport use, the argument that there is no reason to own a car is just silly – you discredit yourself with those kinds of arguments. It implies your world is limited to a rather narrow geographic area, or cannot understand certain jobs that need an automobile.

  5. Cool building… hopefully the new owners can restore it without displacing too many of the tenants.

  6. That’s about $234,218 per unit, and that’s income property. And, as Bobby Salsa points out, at least some of those units aren’t even one-bedroom units, are merely studios. Others are simply one-bedroom. I don’t now if any are 2-bedrooms. Now, how much would rent have to be to make a profit on this income property at that price? Would anyone with a brain in their head pay that price?

    Corner Soul, coincidentally I was just looking into the question of evicting tenants for major capital improvements. The city’s eviction protection no longer allows an eviction for capital improvements. So, they not only can’t evict for that, they also might have to pay tenants’ cost to move out, if necessary, while doing the work. But they can raise tenants rents to pay the full cost of those capital improvements.

    What they can do — if they can afford it – is evict everyone on the pretense of taking the buildings off the rental market “permanently,” which is one of the good cause evictions. Yes, the law says “permanently,” but “permanently” turns out to be one year, as it is enforceable only as a misdemeanor with a one-year statute of limitations. (What a farce of a law!) Still, if they are going to do renovations that will require moving people out and will take several months, a couple-few more months of vacancy might be very profitable to them in the long run, especially since they then would not have to pay to house people elsewhere during the construction time.

    • Ellis Act prevents re-renting the units for FIVE years, not one. Yes, enforcement is not consistent. But this building isn’t going to be Ellis’ed. Even in Echo Park, tenants eventually move out (or die), and whoever has this kind of money can afford to be patient.

      • It’s definitely 5 years off the market. I just did it with my duplex.

        The interesting idea is whether you can AirBnB it during those five years. Does that count as “off the rental market” since they are not 30 day tenants? There is currently a case in SF dealing with just that. A couple was sued by the city for putting their Ellis Act apt/apts on VRBO/AirBnB.

        Turning it into an AirBnB hotel could make your 8 mil worth it, though I doubt a corporate real estate firm is going to want to deal with the political and legal blowback of that.

      • Dave, the city’s eviction protection prevents it permanently, that is forever — which is longer than five years. But it is enforceable merely as a misdemeanor, so can’t be enforced longer than one year. No misdemeanor can be enforced for more than a year. If the Ellis Act is enforced as misdemeanor, it is one year for that too; if it is enforced as a fine, then unfortunately it is simply a cost of business that is well worth the fine.

    • One correction to your post, Mark: Under the city’s rent-control ordinance, the landlord can only recoup half the cost of the capital improvements, amortized over five years (60 months). So let’s say, for sake of example, the landlord spends $10,000 in capital improvements on one apartment unit. He/she can then file a request with LAHD to recoup half that cost ($5000) over five years, which equals around $83 more a month in rent.

  7. I think it’s going to be torn down to make a five story complex with retail. I also think it’s hilarious that they advertise the garages in the listing..

    • You’re crazy. No way that thing is getting torn down. You could never rebuild with as many units in the new building because of all the parking you’d need to have. The existing structure is way more valuable.

  8. Fallopia Simms

    The forced parking mandates is why we can’t have affordable housing.

  9. If a developer attempts to year this down, you can count on me and a whole lot of other feisty Echo Parkers to be out there forming a radical picket line of protesters!

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