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The American Dream Can Be Yours for $400k. In Watts.

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Want to buy a two-story, four bedroom, two-and-a-half bath house with a view of a local artistic and historic landmark for a price tag of around $400,000? They've got custom cabinetry, marble counter tops, walk-in closets, and two-car garages to boot. Sounds pretty sweet!

Do you mind that you're on land that was once a dump, and that you're three blocks from a housing project with bars on its windows? And that landmark? They're the Watts Towers.

There's a new kind of housing project being launched in Watts, but it's one that is "aimed at teachers, firefighters, nurses and other first-time middle-income buyers, some of whom might qualify for interest-free loans from the city that could shave $75,000 off of their cost" says the LA Times. It's called the Mozaic (is the switch of the traditional "s" for a "z" in the word a nod to the contemporary tendency of African American youth to make the same letter-swap in their vernacular?) and it "is believed to be the largest development of new homes in Watts in at least three decades." Developers think the name "conjures peaceful scenes of suburbia" and that this kind of upgraded mode of living will help change the face of Watts, which admittedly is experiencing more peacefulness these days.

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The subdivision is being implemented as a joint venture between the non-profit Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles and Lee Homes, with the primary financing sourced from Culver City's Alliance Bank. The LA Times explains: "Seventeen of the 44 houses will be reserved for moderate-income buyers who will be eligible for no-interest loans offered by the city Housing Department, which has committed $1 million."

While the homes are expected to hit the market shortly, some who have taken a look at them aren't pleased with the way they are being built in close proximity to each other, and the lack of yard space.

Of course, there was nothing but smiles earlier this week, and the kind of lily-gilding optimism seen most often on "reality" television a la Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, when Mayor Villaraigosa and area rep City Councilwoman Janice Hahn headed up a post-construction-start groundbreaking at Mozaic. Hahn addressed the crowd gathered at the Santa Ana Blvd development: "Building these homes is just another sign that things are changing and that people do want to live in this community [...] We are building a beautiful place in Watts."

With the housing market in a slump, and the average home price in Los Angeles well above $500k, Watts' Mozaic just might be the next hot address in town.

Photo of Watts Towers by danagraves via Flickr