Look Out: Bulldozer Ahead!

The teardown craze gets crazier

When he visits the West Los Angeles neighborhood where he grew up, Charles Levan feels sadness and disdain. One by one, the charming two- and three-bedroom houses that decorated the streets of his childhood are being bulldozed and replaced with bloated mansions on tiny lots. "Half the houses on our block have been leveled," says Levan, 34. "The thought of that happening to my house tugs at my heartstrings."

Join the club, Charles. Folks with no visible trace of their roots are fast multiplying. Teardowns, once the province of the exceptionally rich and developers rehabbing crumbling neighborhoods, have gone mainstream. Today...

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