Tuesday, November 27, 2007

For The Love of Land

Bring on the Middle Eastern potentates, the Russian oligarchs and the American software billionaires because a couple of outrageously high priced Los Angeles land parcels have hit the market that only mega rich magnates or deep pocketed developers can afford.

The first property Your Mama would like to discuss is a collection of lots in swanky Old Bel Air that we have previously discussed when it was rumored that creepy Tom Crooz's peeple were sniffing around the property. Dubbed "The Park at Stone Canyon," the massive 10+ acre plot represents the significant and exceedingly expensive efforts of Elizabeth Hurley's multi-millionaire baby daddy Steve Bing. It took more than nine years for Mister Bing to buy up nine separate lots piece by piece and tear down eight of the old-school mansions, some of which has been previously owned by local luminaries like sexy 1950s siren Kim Novak and the crooner that looks like a lady, Barry Manilow.
Sometime in 2005, Mister Bing the Hollywood producer (Beowolf, The Polar Express), a lucky man who inherited a reported $400-600,000,000 from his grandfather, decided he didn't desire such a monstrous estate after all and sold the 12.4 acre parcel to a group of investors called ECP Acquisitions. Jeezis, Mary and Joseph, how many times has Your Mama told the children that rich people can be so fickle with the real estate? Nine years and umpteen millions only to decide, well, maybe not. We're breathless.

After purchasing the property for an amount money that Your Mama never been able to suss, figure or ferret out, these ECP Acquisitions people had elaborate plans drawn up for an opulent mega-estate that includes a mammoth main house, a separate office and gym, guest house, staff house, a greenhouse and a retreat house, whatever that is, a putting green, an orchard, waterfalls, ponds and a lagoon, not to mention the de riguer tennis court and infinity pool. They also drew up plans for splitting the property into six estates of roughly two acres each. Then they did what anyone with piles of cash to invest in real estate in Los Angeles was doing in 2005, they attempted to flip the property at an ear piercing price and profit. News reports declared that the landscaped and terraced parcel(s), which sit directly across from the hoity-toity Hotel Bel Air, could fetch an unnerving $75,000,000 or more.

But alas...No Texan oil tycoon, hedge fund honcho or Indian Industrialist was willing to cough up the copious cash required to acquire the property. The property disappeared off Your Mama's radar for some time and then poof, out of nowhere, it popped back up on the MLS with a reduced but still eye popping asking price of $59,950,000. Yes puppies, that's just for the bare land. The new owner will need considerable additional assets to design, build and pay for whatever ridiculously humongous residence(s) and accoutrement they would like to put on this piece of property.

Interestingly, the listing describes the property as 10.52 acres (originally the property was marketed with 12.4 acres) which would indicated that one of the ECG people is keeping one of the 2 acre-ish lots for his or herself. Hmm.

Now pour yerself a big stiff one kids, and someone please pass Your Mama the smelling salts because we are not done discussing platinum triangle land parcels with puke inducing price tags.

Not so long ago a property appeared on the MLS that intrigued Your Mama. Located high in the hills of the Beverly Hills Post Office, a 4 parcel estate site totalling nearly 6.25 acres with a Tower Lane address crashed down on the market with a stunning $39,500,000 price tag. Cough. Cough. For the bare land. Can you hear Your Mama's teeth chattering with shock and awe?
Even more intriguing and nerve rattling are the apparent plans the current owner had for the place: 50,000 square feet of Richard Landry designed interior space including a 30,000 square foot main house, a tennis house, gate house, spa house and a waterfall/guest house. All this lavishness was to be accessed by a 1,500 foot long private drive with garage parking for 25 cars, which pretty much makes the place a car dealership with resort amenities.

And who is the current owner you might be wanting to know? Well, after much digging, two of Your Mama's best sources have both independently fingered Jon Peters, the super rich super producer known for his lavish lifestyle, for getting his start in showbiz by dressing Barbra Streisand's hair, and for letting his ex-wife of two months, a ladee named Christine, live rent free in his big house in Bel Air for nearly 20 years, a situation that has resulted in a bitter battle.

According to property records, Mister Peters, who reportedly also owns a home in Bel Air, another in Malibu and an ocean front pile in Santa Barbara, purchased the lots way back in 1996 when there was an 8,000+ square foot house sitting on the property. The house has since been razed and according to listing information, years have been spent on the planning, engineering and design of the property. Ten years into the project and many millions of dollars later with not much to show besides a bunch of damn retaining walls and some drawings and plans, Mister Peters appears to have changed his mind like so many rich and famous do when it comes to ridiculous real estate ventures.

Only time will tell if there are buyers willing to plunk down such huge amounts of coin for vacant property. Lawhd children, imagine all the hungry mouths that could be fed and all the college educations for the poor and hard working that could be funded with this kind of money. It takes a lot to make Your Mama's head spin with visions of money being flushed down the terlit, and children, our head is twisting and spinning just as fast as it can go over these vacant plots of land with obscenely sky high prices.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

thanks, I was actually looking at that Tower Road plot recently, its not a bad lot at all, very very big in a nice part of Beverly Hills and very private.

-Sneaky Pete

pch said...

Bel-Air: If I were dropping that kind of money, I wouldn't want an elongated lot shaped like a map of Culver City, or a mid-canyon situation wedged above a hotel parking lot and below the houses on Bel-Air Road.

Tower Road: Somebody please stop Richard Landry before he builds another of those awful squat faux palaces.

mr jones said...

Richard Landry, who dat ?

luke220 said...

"Internationally renowned for their designs in a variety of architectural styles and for their service-oriented philosophy, Landry Design Group, Inc. is producing residences ranging from classical estates to cozy rural villas and cutting-edge contemporary structures. The firm’s commissions include work for such notable clients as Eddie Murphy, Rod Stewart, Kenny G, Wayne Gretzky, Sugar Ray Leonard, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Bolton, and Keyshawn Johnson." from the website

mr jones said...

Richard Landry, great work, keep it up !!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I certainly wouldn't choose Richard Landry - he's responsible for a good portion of the faux palaces found in Beverly Park - tacky tacky.

Anonymous said...

thanks for all that. :)
what map program did you get the first image from???

Anonymous said...

Blech on Russian oligarchs and on Steve Bing too.

pch said...

Mr. Jones, please don't encourage Mr. Landry, no matter how glittering his client list.

What Landry does is a cartoonish imitation of Beaux Arts architecture, like he's vaguely familiar with the design cues but completely oblivious to proportion. His facades don't have nearly enough height so they look squat -- not stately -- and he compounds the nightmare of scale by tacking oversized trim and ornamentation onto virtually any unadorned surface. I can't comment on his floor plans, because I haven't seen any, but I'd be surprised if there were an axis in sight.

When done well, a Beaux Arts house can be fantastic -- and it drives me nuts that Los Angeles is absolutely littered with ungainly mansions created on purpose by architects like Landry, who should be guiding their clients to good design, not lumpy interpretations of the Château de Fontainebleau.

I guess I have an opinion on this topic :)

pch said...

I just looked again at the post and realized the empty lot is on Tower Lane, not Road -- and I'm horrified at the thought that a Richard Landry house might replace the hacienda designed by Wallace Neff for King Vidor, which I can't believe anyone had the nerve to tear down.

Anonymous said...

Dear PCH,

Landry isnt as terrible as you think. I grew up in a Landry home in Beverly Hills. His philosophy of architecture is listening to the client and allowing them to contribute to the design. Alot of his earlier work, which is on the website is rather client driven, so its more their bad taste than his. Landry has newer work which has yet to be photographed and published, its much improved.

FYI the homes arent squat. Beverly Hills and most neighborhoods in LA have height restrictions... Trust me he maxes out to the highest height he can build. Sometimes zoning laws in LA prohibit building to accurate proportions.

And he is know for his floorplans. He does do floorplans superbly...

pch said...

Hey 8:21:

I'm very glad to be corrected on my assumption about his floor plans. And I'll also give Landry the benefit of the doubt on newer commissions I haven't seen.

But I have a basic philosophy when it comes to architecture -- if the proportions aren't right, the design will never work. And when you look at Landry's work in Beverly Park, particularly, the proportions are all wrong. The houses may not be squat, but they look squat. There are ways to work around height restrictions -- disguise or minimize the second floor, create a sunken orangerie-type entrance level, etc. -- that are true to the 18th-century inspiration and don't jab you in the eye. And I don't know that you can attribute elements like mammoth quoins, cornices and pediments (which aggravate the effect of a low roofline) to client input. Surely, he could have offered more restrained variants without their noticing the difference.

Anyway, the fact is I'm a George Washington Smith/Paul Williams kind of guy who thinks most every house built in a revival style these days has serious proportion problems, and I'm venting on Landry mostly because he's one of the foremost practitioners.

Anonymous said...

pch,
most people don't know good design and don't know the difference between height and proportion regarding scale.
Thanks for promoting good design.

Raj said...

Be sure your particular off plan property can be sold on prior to completion without penalty, as this is not always the case on every development and some will not publicize this fact to property investors. You’ll be better off with your options left open so it’s advisable to avoid developments where selling on is not possible. Be aware that some developers say you can sell before completion but include a clause in the contract stating you may sell on only when they have sold all the other apartments within the development.

mummy said...

Hmm large plots ? There is one such RObbie Williams who has built himself a football pitch not far from his mulholland estate home. Now thats at least 50 x 100 yards on flat ground so where can that be? Mama would you know?

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