Transforming Bixby Knolls, Transforming Lives
2009-10-09 · By Editor
By Leslie A.M. Smith
Since my husband and I bought our 1929 home in Bixby Knolls in 1998, we have witnessed a marvelous renaissance of the shopping district and of our neighborhood. More importantly, there has been a melding of the two — neighbors and merchants complementing each other.
Some of our original wonderful neighbors who raised their families on these streets have moved on and entrusted us to raise a new generation of Bixby Knolls families. They welcomed us here and shared the local history – who lived in our house when and what renovations they did. They held the hands of our chubby babies and gave us sage words of advice. Some moved to live with sons or daughters and grandchildren, some left and made a greater transition. They left their legacy of rose bushes, poinsettias that are more like trees than bushes, and towering jacarandas and magnolia trees.
New families and young couples have moved in to continue the cycle and bring new life to the mixture of architecture. Colonial, Cape Cod, modern and Mediterranean-style homes share fences and shade trees. The juxtaposition of styles punctuates that it is all Bixby Knolls.
As the names on the mailboxes have changed, so has the nearby retail mix. Russell’s turned over its grill to E.J. Maloy’s and what once was a neglected lot with a decaying pagoda is now a bustling shopping center with a Trader Joe’s.
Atlantic Avenue was a sun-drenched street with a few shops and services. It is now a shady avenue with children activity centers, restaurants and nightlife. The merchants have come out of their shops to engage with their customers on a different level in a venue other than the sales floor.
Acting as a hub of social and commercial interests is the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association. The perfect personalities and inspiration are leading the way with innovative ways to interconnect diverse interests. The organization’s Executive Director Blair Cohn will tell you that this is a deliberate effort, but the result has been exponential and has yet to stop.
There are Saturday morning strollers exploring the streets and savoring the roses and azaleas planted decades ago. There are mommies pushing strollers to the arts & crafts and play areas now on Atlantic. The literary club is reading, the supper club is supping and the thespians at the Richard Goad Theatre are close friends of Bill. The Expo building truly is an expo. The menu on the street has expanded. The historical Society continues to make history and the Arts Council has gone GLOBAL.
Through this neighborhood’s transition, it has expanded its offerings as it has tightened relationships. By being open to change, it has become more defined.
Expansive clay soil, airport noise and plaster cracks are all irrelevant when you are part of something so great.
Bixby Knolls is charming. It’s unique. It’s home.