Daily Archives: February 6, 2014

The Heart of Palms-ness: Motor Av

I’ve written before about my neighborhood’s namesake boulevard, but the development on Palms is almost all residential. The “main streets” of Palms are really Motor and Overland. So today, let’s take a tour of Motor Av.

A word must be said at the outset: the architecture on Motor Av is not going to inspire many people. James Howard Kunstler isn’t going to write anything romantic about its earnest ornamentation reflecting the city’s work ethic or how the repetition of a pattern in the street room delights the eye. Whatevs, streetscapes are relatively easy to improve. The real thing to be watching here is diversity of use (residential, offices, retail, light industry, restaurants) and the wide range of building ages (everything over the last 100 years).

So if you find yourself getting caught up in the architecture, remember: you’re looking at a hard working neighborhood main street, that’s getting it done in just about every way. It’s within walking distance for pretty much everyone in the neighborhood. If, on the whole, you’re not happy with Motor Av, your primary concern isn’t diverse mixed-use neighborhoods. There’s nothing wrong with that, but part of understanding what your strategies should be is understanding what your goals are. A denser, more walkable LA is going to have more streets that function, and probably look, like Motor.

Oh, and one more thing: notice that between the Google Street View shots (2011) and my photos (2014), Motor has been converted from four lanes to three lanes with bike lanes! Alright, off we go.

Venice to Regent

Starting just north of Venice, on the west side of the street, here’s a cleaners, an antique shop, a random building, and the post office.


Across the street, here’s the neighborhood bike shop (in a 1923 building), a small apartment house (built 1931), and an office building (1989). Need a small affordable office for your business? Palms has you covered.


Just past that, there’s a landlord’s office with apartments above (1953), hair salon & roofing business (1947), and another small apartment house (1958).


Back on the west side, a preschool (1936) and some more office buildings (1986, 1964, 1953).


Across from that, we have an SFR (!), an apartment block, and a plumber (1924, 1959, 1972).


Meanwhile on the west side, a newish (2004) more upscale apartment building.


Then, at the corner of Motor & Regent, an auto body shop (1947), some furnished single apartments (1955), the fire station (1952), and another commercial building (1957).


And all of that is just the first block!

Regent to Tabor

Continuing north, we have a small office building (1991) and a mid-size apartment building (1971) on the west side.


And across from that, a larger apartment building (1987).


North of that building, there’s a series of small apartment buildings (1946, 1956, 1988).


Opposite that, we have another private school (1925 & 1967 buildings), a newer four-story apartment building (2006), and an old apartment building (1955).


Continuing north, a 1925 SFR with a 1931 ADU, another small 80s office building (1984), and four bungalow-size standalone houses on one lot (1941).


A few more office buildings (1982, 1929, 1980, 1963) and a 1954 dingbat bring us up to the corner of Tabor on the west side.



Meanwhile, the second half of the block on the east side features an office building (1972), several residential buildings (1947, 1953, 1953, 2006, 2006), and a motel (1961).


Tabor to Palms

Across Tabor, we have a couple convenience stores and Laundromat; right side dates to 1923, while the left side strip mall is 1960.


Next up, on the west side, our second (but not our last) SFR! This one is from 1904. Next to that, a low slung 1948 apartment building and more 80s office buildings (1987, 1989).


A medical building (1971), a sign manufacturing shop (1947), and a sandwich shop (1930, 1954) round out the west side of this block.


Almost the whole east side is occupied by Palms Elementary School.


Palms to Woodbine

Crossing Palms Blvd, there’s an Arco gas station (cheapest gas around as long as you can deal with their bizarre ATM card machines) on the west side, and Palms’ newest mixed-use building (2013) on the east side. Some of the retail space on the first floor has been occupied by The Wilde Thistle. . . welcome to Palms, y’all!


Back on the west side, there’s the who-knows-what light manufacturing building (1950), yet another SFR (1916), an under-construction four-story apartment building (2014?), and an auto repair shop (1940s). Houston, eat your heart out.


The east side has some more 1980s office buildings, a physical therapy building, and some “store & residential combination” buildings from various decades. The corner office building is 1997.


Woodbine to National

Ok, two more blocks to go! On the east side, three small office buildings (1910, 1940, 1961) and Iman cultural center.


Also some bad ass street art.


Across from that, The Garage, a solid neighborhood bar in a 1961 building, and some office buildings all over the place (30s-80s). A four-story apartment building (1988) and old-school mixed-user (1924) take us up to National.


The east side has a liquor store and more genuine urban industry!


Home stretch, from National to the 10. The northeast corner has a 1981 retail/office combo building. Then, some small offices including an art school (1951, 1946), and another auto body shop (1947).



On the west side, there’s another medical building (1941), another solid neighborhood bar (The Irish Times, 1946), and some apartment buildings (1957, 1955).


Of course, Motor keeps going north past the 10, but I hear that’s the kind of neighborhood where they’re scared of bike lanes and worry about the spacing of poles holding up netting at a driving range. Nice architectural uniformity, but nothing interesting to see there.