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Postcard from... Los Angeles


The owner of a Los Angeles car-wash has cleaned up, selling the precious land beneath his business for an estimated $25m (£15m) – almost 50 times what he paid for it a generation ago.

According to the Los Angeles Times, when Robert Bush purchased the patch of tarmac at the junction of Olympic Boulevard and Figueroa Street in downtown LA in 1980, it cost him $525,000. At the time, much of the downtown district was notoriously down-at-heel.

Today, with the city’s regeneration at its peak, Mr Bush’s modest Downtown Car Wash is surrounded by skyscrapers on one of the most valuable slices of property in southern California. The 36,300 sq ft plot was purchased by a developer who intends to build a high-rise complex of shops, apartments and a hotel. Though the exact price paid was not disclosed, Mr Bush is believed to have got close to his asking price of $25m.

The city centre has swiftly and steadily been gentrified in recent years. Now the car wash is at the heart of a thriving retail area, near the Staples Centre, home of the LA Lakers and Clippers basketball teams.

Carol Schatz, of Los Angeles Downtown Centre Business Improvement District, told the newspaper: “We have created a new city centre, and we don’t need a car wash smack dab in the middle of it.”