LA+MacArthur+Park+article

LA+MacArthur+Park+article - Copyright 2007 Los Angeles...

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Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times All Rights Reserved Los Angeles Times June 7, 2007 Thursday Home Edition SECTION: CALENDAR WEEKEND; Calendar Desk; Part E; Pg. 26 LENGTH: 2838 words HEADLINE: COVER STORY; Crossroads; With crime down and gentrification seemingly inevitable, the Westlake/ MacArthur Park area balances its history with its future. BYLINE: August Brown and Jessica Gelt, Times Staff Writers BODY: THERE'S a scruffy brick apartment building at the corner of 7th and South Park View streets in Westlake that hints at the history and possible future of the neighborhood. On the ground floor, a pharmacy and health clinic with signs in Spanish sit next door to an inexpensive Honduran restaurant. A few stories above, however, in his home studio in the building's renovated Presidential Suite, Matthew Cooke is filming a series of comedy sketches called "Bad Dad" for Fuel TV's upcoming variety show "Stupid Face." Cooke, 34, a producer of the Oscar-nominated documentary "Deliver Us From Evil," is the kind of guy who is fond of stylish jeans and vintage French film posters. He is quick to poke fun at the cliche of a white artist moving into a working-class ethnic neighborhood for the cheap rents. "I hope to subjugate the people and build a tower of capitalism on their backs," he jokes, riffing on a journal entry from the ultimate gentrifier, Christopher Columbus. On a serious note, Cooke adds that "having different cultures collide and mix together is a good thing for everyone involved." Indeed, Cooke is a new kind of resident in the evolving neighborhood that has alternately been one of Los Angeles' toniest ZIP codes and home to its most extensive menu of vices. As downtown becomes prohibitively expensive and nearby Koreatown becomes similarly priced out, local artists, designers and hipsterati are dipping their toes into the predominantly working-class neighborhood immediately west of the city's core. Swanky nightclubs, organic tamale co-ops and art galleries are following suit. But for the ethnic families who made Westlake home long before it sparkled in a trust- funder's eye, gentrification is an uncertain blessing. With more than 114,000 residents that are 78% Latino, Westlake is one of the most densely populated 3.2 square miles in
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Los Angeles. Coupled with a median annual household income of just over $19,000, it's little wonder that the May Day immigration reform protest reached a boiling point here. There's no debate that the neighborhood is changing. The question is who gets to decide
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LA+MacArthur+Park+article - Copyright 2007 Los Angeles...

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