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Azalea Park: City Heights’ hidden gem

One of the original floats that promoted the up and coming neighborhood of Azalea Park to the gay community.

City Heights is a large, dense and ethnically diverse neighborhood of San Diego. It spans from University Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard, and roughly from I-805 eastward to 54th Street. It has long been a victim of neglect, urban blight and crime. But during the last ten to fifteen years, City Heights has benefitted from much improvement and redevelopment with new businesses and projects remaking the neighborhood.

The area now known as City Heights traces all the way back to the 1880s, when land speculators purchased land as railroad expansion brought anticipation of population growth. It used to be referred to as part of East San Diego, and in fact, East San Diego was its own city until it was annexed by San Diego many years ago.

Probably more than any other area of San Diego County, City Heights is a true melting pot with many different ethnic groups. Housing in this neighborhood is more affordable relative to the rest of the city, although it is dense with a mixture of small homes, older apartments, condo buildings and a variety of businesses. In addition, there are many communities within City Heights. However, there is one community of City Heights that is a hidden gem and it has slowly become a very charming and desirable neighborhood.

Azalea Park was once known as Lexington Park. Azalea Park was a real estate sub-division and in the mid-1980s the Lexington Park Neighborhood Association decided to refer to themselves as Azalea Park.

In 1993 residents started the Azalea Park Neighborhood Association and members of the association decided to market the neighborhood as a new up-and-coming community. One of the target markets was the LGBT community. One way in which they got the word out was at the annual San Diego Gay Pride parade and festival. In July 1993 a small band of people, LGBT and straight, gathered together and marched by the side of a red Volkswagen Cabriolet with faux plants sticking out the back and carrying hand painted banners and signs showing canyon homes for under $60,000. And so began the continuing run of the Azalea Park entry in the San Diego Gay Pride parade. Many new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents, young married couples, families and singles have added to the diversity of the neighborhood. These days, Azalea Park is a charming community made up of working class folks, with a sizable LGBT population. It is a great place to buy an affordable single detached home. Housing prices start around $150,000 for a small fixer and go up to the low to mid $200,000’s. I have a friend who bought a very cute 2 bedroom 1 bathroom home with a small guest unit last year in the low $200,000’s. They have truly enjoyed living in Azalea Park and have found their neighbors and neighborhood to be wonderful.

You might not think there’s a reason to visit Azalea Park or City Heights. But if you’re looking for authentic ethnic restaurants or markets, City Heights is worthy of a visit. Most of the businesses are concentrated along the corridors of University Avenue, Fairmount Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard. The award-winning City Heights Urban Village is a joint public and private City of San Diego redevelopment project which features the Mid-City Police Substation, Community Gymnasium, the Weingart City Heights Branch Library and the Mid-City Adult Continuing Education Center.

Trent St. Louis is a licensed Real Estate Agent and a member of the National, California and San Diego Association of Realtors. You can reach Trent at SpecialAgentTrent@gmail.com or at his office in Hillcrest, 619-300-1621. The Metropolitan Group (CADRE#01273643).

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Posted by on Mar 6, 2012. Filed under Section 4A. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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