Bella Vista, which lies between Park and 14th Avenue, and stretches from the 580 Freeway to East 24th Street, is a rolling neighborhood of meandering streets that work their way down to the flatter Clinton neighborhood to the West. Almost solely residential, the variety of homes gives the community its own unique character. Homes range from small bungalows to grand estates with a variety of architectural styles popular during the late Victorian era and early 1900s: Queen Anne, Craftsman, Classic Revival, Mediterranean, and even a few Tudor style homes.
Residents of Bella Vista love the proximity to Lake Merritt which is just a short stroll away, and it is convenient to BART (Merritt Station) and has easy freeway access. The delights of Clinton (Champa Garden), Cleveland Heights (Portal) and Glenview (Rumba al Sur, Bellanico) are all a short jaunt away.
A section of Bella Vista that stretches along Park Avenue, called Ivy Hill, was home to Arbor Villa, the Francis M. “Borax” Smith mansion and estate. The estate was sold during the Great Depression and over times was divided up into smaller lots for more modest housing that stands today in Ivy Hill. The row of tall palm trees on 9th Avenue is believed to be the only remnant of the grand estate: it is believed these trees formed the border of the property (some say they lined the driveway).