Walberg Residence in Garvanza

The Transitional Shingle-style A.V. Walberg Residence was restored as part of the project.

GARVANZA -- The fact that two nearly century-old homes have been restored to their glory after sitting blighted for years isn’t unusual in this historic district.  But the way new housing was included in this project is being described as visionary.

At least that’s what the L.A. Conservancy said earlier this month when it announced that  it would recognize the project near Avenue 66 and Crescent Street with a 2019 Conservancy Preservation Award.

The restoration of a Craftsman and a transitional shingle-style home did something few others do in historic districts, it added more housing units – aka density.

San Luis Obispo-based developer Good Form Design Build and Louisa Van Leer Architecture turned the two single-family homes across three parcels of land into six different residences. The owner added a studio residence to both homes and built a new house inspired by a Victorian farmhouse with a granny flat in the back.

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“This visionary project serves as a creative example of how we can balance the need for adding density to L.A.’s neighborhoods while still respecting a neighborhood’s historic character,” the Conservancy said on its website.

Preservationist have long been criticized for being anti-density, with some neighborhoods using the historic zones to prevent developers from adding units and ruining the “character” of a neighborhood.

But with housing costs soaring, granny flats restrictions loosened and efforts from Sacramento to densify even single family neighborhoods, the tide could be turning.

And the recognition by the Conservancy, a 1970s era nonprofit originally formed to save the Los Angeles Central Library, perhaps one nod to just that.

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