When Regina Freidin first moved to Westchester about 15 years ago, it wasn't exactly her first choice.
Her husband had grown up in the quaint, suburban neighborhood just north of LAX and wanted to move back. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley and had in mind someplace more trendy. They had been renting in Brentwood.
"It's not like there's a stigma," she said. "But you know how if you live in the Palisades or Brentwood or Santa Monica, people are like, 'Ooooh.' Well, Westchester is just Westchester."
But 15 years and three Westchester houses later, Freidin says she wouldn't want to live anywhere else. And she has friends hoping to move there too. Even one from Brentwood.
This often-overlooked patch, known to many as a place they pass through en route to the airport, is having something of a moment.
Westchester's 90045 ZIP Code is one of just a handful of places in the region where house prices have returned to pre-crash levels, with the median price for a single-family home hitting $795,000 in the third quarter, according to CoreLogic DataQuick.
Those prices have climbed 25% in the last two years. A big reason: the southward surge of Silicon Beach.
The tech and real estate phenomenon that has transformed Santa Monica, Venice and Marina del Rey is now lapping at the edges of Westchester. Media and entertainment firms have been scooping up office space in Playa Vista, a master-planned community on the old Hughes Aircraft site just north of Westchester. Last month, tech giant Google bought 12 vacant acres zoned for a massive office complex.
"All these tech and advertising companies have really shifted the dynamics of the marketplace," said Stephanie Younger, a real estate agent with Teles Properties in Playa del Rey.
A wave of rehabs and additions has also driven prices higher. Construction crews are a common sight in Westchester these days, converting the neighborhood's traditional postwar ranch homes — built in the '40s and '50s for returning GIs and aerospace workers — into fully updated two-story affairs.