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Downtowners claim to be creative, but not wealthy in response to new survey

By Omar Shamout
Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012, at 09:12AM

A 3rd Street mural is a symbol of the Arts District's dedication to creativity. But what do people in the neighborhood have to say about the area and themselves?

An Arts District Business Improvement survey shed some light on the makeup of residents in that corner of the city this week. In response, Blogdowntown decided to hit the streets ourselves and find out what strikes people’s minds when they think of Downtown and the people who call it home.

While the study found that most Arts District dwellers have healthy bank accounts, many we spoke to Thursday said that Westside residents are more arrogant about their money and how they spend it.

“I make fun of Westsiders for being too trendy,” laughed 23-year-old Emily Burton as she ate with friends at The Pie Hole on 3rd Street. The Sci-Arc student, who also works at nearby Wurstküche, said she’s lived in the Arts District for five years. Burton said it’s probably safe to assume that people who buy Arts District lofts are not hurting for cash, but insisted that she and her fellow students are not in the same financial boat.

“We are not rich,” Burton said. She wasn’t afraid to label Downtowners as “hipsters,” but claimed they are more driven by art and creativity than material items.

“It’s not like the trendy, kind of bourgeois … hipster. It’s kind of hardcore,” Burton said.

Current mid-city resident and product developer Frank Valadez, 21, plans to move to the Little Tokyo/Arts District area for work, but said he is also looking forward to living in an area full of artists, along with a more down-to-earth attitude and atmosphere.

“I really like this area; there’s a lot to do. Where I live, people are more stuck up. I’m looking forward to going out but not on the Westside anymore,” Valadez said.

While 25-year-old Toy District resident Zach Kaufman said he doesn’t harbor resentment toward the Westside or its occupants, but he sometimes considers people who live there as “snooty.”

Kaufman said he likes the “New York-ified element” of living Downtown, with many shops, restaurants and professional offices within walking distance of one another. Kaufman thinks it’s accurate to describe Downtowners as “creative,” but wasn’t ready to label himself or the community as wealthy ¬– for now, anyway.

“Wealthy – I think everyone out here is kind of working on [that],” he said.

Despite Downtown’s reputation as a haven for visual artists, musicians, and the performing arts, 28-year-old Bunker Hill resident Ja’Nelle Simpson admitted that convenience is king in her life. Simpson said the thing she loves most about living Downtown is the 10-minute commute to nearby Loyola Law School, where she works.

“I moved Downtown originally because I was going to USC for school and it was very close by,” Simpson said. “Now that I work Downtown, it’s perfect,” Simpson said.

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