Written by Alexandria Abramian | Photography Courtesy of Chang Kyun Photography
Los Angeles real estate is typically known for its larger-than-life proportions. But with land in limited supply, developers are looking at other ways to offer single-family residences to buyers who can’t necessarily afford a sprawling estate. Enter the small-lot home. Often built on smaller-than-typical pieces of land, and often only inches apart, these homes may be of reduced size, but they pack enough luxury amenities to attract high-end buyers.
Unlike townhomes, small-lot residences have no shared walls, offering a sense of living in a “detached single-family home” without outdoor acreage. At the same time, they provide homeowners with a sense of sanctuary. Another advantage: the ability to build more homes on less land. This is especially critical in places like Los Angeles, which faces housing density and affordability challenges that will only increase with time.
At COVO (developed by Planet Home Living), 10 small-lot homes recently opened in high-demand Silver Lake, closeness to neighbors is improved by skillful design. Award-winning KTGY Architecture + Planning fashioned the sleek, contemporary homes that are nestled on a quiet residential street, with a sense of spaciousness while maintaining privacy.
The open-plan concept, strategically placed windows and lots of elevated outdoor elements—rooftop terraces and roomy decks—allow the three-bedroom homes to feel expansive, not constricted to a small footprint. (PlanetHomeLiving.com)
“The 10 homes distinctively maximize their square footage with open kitchen/living spaces and private indoor-outdoor experiences that capture the fantastic views, each in [its] own way. The whole community fits together like an intriguing puzzle,” says KTGY Principal Alan Scales, AIA, who helped to formulate the Small Lot Ordinance with the City of Los Angeles. To date, KTGY has more than 900 small-lot homes in various stages of construction. COVO joins a host of other recent small-lot developments in Los Angeles, including The Sevens, a collection of seven freestanding homes in the Park Mile area of Hancock Park. Set amid the area’s famed mansions, The Sevens will offer three-story contemporary homes that include three or four bedrooms with rooftop terraces featuring wrap-around city views. Slated to hit the market next month, the homes will range from $1.675-$2 million. (TheSevensLA.com)
There’s also Toluca 17, a collection of 17 “slim” homes, which opened earlier this year. The look and feel is decidedly vertical; more like a townhouse without the shared walls. Meanwhile, architect Jeffrey Eyster’s vision of small-lot living is even more dramatically narrow: His small-lot homes in Del Rey divide just 1,800 square feet of living space into four stories of indoor space. Long, skinny windows only heighten the verticality, making them look like mini towers. (Toluca17.com)
So will small-lot homes be the next big thing on the Los Angeles real estate market? If COVO is any example, the answer may be yes. The group of 10 homes, which started at $1,059,000, have already sold out.
Manhattan Beach home prices hit a new high water mark in July, reaching their highest level in over 4 years. The average sale price for single-family residences for 2017 year-to-date reached $3,008,529, while the median sale price also peaked at $2,471,125. The average sale price is up 14.56% from the same period last year, and up an astounding $1,005,169 when compared to 2013 average sale prices.
And the record highs keep coming – 1000 The Strand sold at the end of May of this year for $21,000,000, and there have been a total of (18) transactions year-to-date with a closed sales price above $5,000,000, versus (1) for the same period last year. In addition, Hermosa Beach just missed a record high sale price with the sale of 1540 The Strand, which closed at $14,150,000, (versus the record price of $15,000,000 in 2015.) See record home price sales for each city below.
South Bay & Palos Verdes
Record Home Prices – Single Family Residences
Another South Bay city has seen its average sale price hit a new high – North Redondo Beach. Year-to-date average sale prices hit a new peak of $1,002,651; the first time prices have topped the seven-figure number. That number compares to an average sale price of $768,023 in 2013, which means pricing has increased 30.5% in North Redondo Beach in the last 4.5 years!
We’re reaching an interesting point in time in terms of the typical real estate cycle, which seems to normalize / adjust every 7-9 years. With record employment, a continued low interest rate environment, stock market highs, renewed consumer confidence, and a healthier mortgage balance sheet (more equity, less delinquencies,) it appears the good times will keep coming.
I’m not one to speculate on where prices go from here, but like everyone interested in the housing market, it’s sure going to be interesting in the next 12 months.
WeHo welcomes a quintet of new luxury townhomes from FMB Development to the neighborhood
Written by Alisha Henson
Located at 1159 N Formosa Ave, just north of Santa Monica Blvd, five new modern luxury townhomes are being brought to West Hollywood by FMB Development. The three-story townhomes will feature indoor/outdoor living spaces that seamlessly blend into the development’s signature modern design and aesthetic of the neighborhood. Built with high-quality finishes and materials, each unit will also include a private front and back yard, and a subterranean garage. Not to mention the impeccable views from the rooftop deck, which include Downtown Los Angeles, Griffith Observatory, and the Hollywood sign.
“These luxury townhomes will integrate seamlessly into the surrounding neighborhood, increase area property values, and improve quality of life for local residents. We worked closely with the community in designing this property to ensure that it would contribute to the vibrant neighborhood and address local priorities, like increasing walkability and parking availability.
FMB Development is proud to have created a project that thoughtfully incorporates the latest in contemporary design, unique artistic elements, and the highest quality materials and finishes,” says IIan Kenig, CEO of FMB Development.
5757 Wilshire Blvd, Ste. 448
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Written by Wendy Bowman
This custom Mediterranean-style Manhattan Beach home at 1467 3rd St. definitely is attractive to pro athletes—in particular, for current owner and former left wing for the Los Angeles Kings, Alexander Frolov, and its original o
wner, former Lakers forward, Slava Medvedenko.
“The most appealing feature of the house is the high ceilings; the house feels really big, which is a desirable factor for tall athletes,”
says Michael Grady of The Agency, who is listing the property for $2.895 million.
“There’s also the corner lot aspect. You have a little more privacy on the corner and aren’t sandwiched in, and the backyard layout has a private oasis feel to it with a magnificent pool, spa and built-in barbecue.”
Yet other stand-out features of the two-level, 7,549-square-foot abode: five bedrooms (most notably, an elegant master suite boasting a duo of balconies and a fireplace); a living room with a wet bar and fireplace; formal dining room; and casual family room overlooking the lushly landscaped backyard that flows to a gourmet kitchen sporting a large center island, double-oven and breakfast area.
Written by Wendy Bowman
The gated and private Colonial Revival estate that Green Acres actress Eva Gabor (as well as stars from Audrey Hepburn to Mia Farrow) once called home has hit the market for $13.995 million, listed by Jade Mills of Coldwell Banker Global Luxury.
Situated at 100 Delfern Drive—in the exclusive Los Angeles enclave of Holmby Hills—the traditional Paul Williams-designed residence features 6,797 square feet of living space in the main home, including a grand foyer boasting an elegant designer chandelier and winding staircase; six bedrooms; a living room with fireplace and built-in library shelves; family room with fireplace; formal dining room; and kitchen with a light-filled breakfast area. Meanwhile, the 1.1-acre lot is highlighted by a guest house; staff apartment; inviting pool; pool house with kitchen and sauna; tennis court; and landscaped gardens. A sizeable brick-lined motor court tops off this white brick home’s special allure.
Explore L.A. this summer at fun summertime events from the Westside to the South Bay
Written by Wendy Bowman
El Segundo Art Walk
More than 40 artists in 35 studio venues throughout downtown El Segundo and the up-and-coming Smoky Hollow neighborhood (between Sepulveda and historic downtown El Segundo) are set to participate in the self-guided third Thursday night El Segundo Art Walk, with upcoming dates on July 20 and Aug. 17 from 5-9 p.m. Expect fine art, live music, great food and artist studio tours at the event, now in its third year. Start at July’s event headquarters at 212 Eucalyptus Drive for a map and drink. Look for work by artists including Chance Cooper, Sabrina Armitage, Carrie Dietz Brown, Paul Roustan, Scott McFarlane, Dane Capo and Paula Langstein at venues ranging from Unita to South Bay Customs and many more. ElSegundoArtWalk.com
Shade Summer Series
Both outposts of the Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach are inviting everyone to party at their rooftop pools. Visit the Manhattan Beach site’s Skydeck Aug. 13 and Sept. 10, and the new Redondo Beach property’s Aquadeck each
Sunday throughout the summer. Both parties last from 1-6 p.m. and include handcrafted cocktails, food and drink specials and DJs. Open to the public (ages 21 and older), with a $20 admission fee. ShadeHotel.com
Beverly Hills Open Later Days (B.O.L.D.)
Planning on venturing out in the evening? Head to Beverly Hills for extended shopping hours and more, beginning Aug. 3. As part of Beverly Hills Open Later Days (B.O.L.D.)—a new initiative led by Mayor Lili Bosse, Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau and Rodeo Drive Committee—locals and visitors alike can visit select retailers Thursday-Saturday until 8 p.m. and enjoy live entertainment,
style sessions with fashion influencers, in-store tastemaker events, branded food carts and café seating along Rodeo Drive’s 200 block. Must-attend happenings include the free Concerts on Canon (in the Beverly Gardens between Montage Beverly Hills and Bouchon Bistro), with entertainers performing Broadway tunes, Brazilian jazz and other music every Thursday through Aug. 31 from 6-8 p.m., as well as aboveSIXTY movie nights featuring classics such as Dirty Dancing and ET and new favorites like La La Land on the SIXTY Beverly Hills Hotel rooftop each Wednesday, starting at 7 p.m., until September. LoveBeverlyHills.com
Concert on the Bluffs
The city of Malibu’s second-annual Concert on the Bluffs, in partnership with Malibu Village, takes place Aug. 20 at 5 p.m. at Malibu Bluffs Park. Look for performances by world-class musicians from the Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, along with guest dancers from the New York City Ballet—all held against a backdrop featuring sweeping views of the mountains and coastline. BrownPaperTickets.com
Written by Wendy Bowman
When it comes to designing pools, Malibu-based Burdge & Associates Architects Inc. has had some pretty unusual design requests—like the time a client asked for one side of his pool to be glass and to butt against a shark tank, so he could feel like he was swimming with the finned fishes. Unfortunately, the project was never finished, but Burdge and other L.A. architects have come up with myriad of other fanciful pool creations, with the biggest request being pools with a view, whether mountains or ocean…or maybe even a cocktail bar.
“Pools have always been popular in the L.A. market because of our weather and the high value placed on homes that foster a complete indoor-outdoor lifestyle,” says Mauricio Umansky, founder and CEO of The Agency. He adds that luxurious, high-end pools definitely increase the allure and desirability of a property, especially for aesthetic lovers, and often boost the price of homes in the Southern California market.
“The most attractive pools in luxury homes don’t just complement the home’s style, but are integrated into the landscape, offering an appealing visual element on top of the obvious recreational factor,” says Umansky. “Buyers are attracted to features that boost a home’s wow-factor and add another desirable element to entertaining.”
Take, for example, the personal residence of L.A. developer/designer Cyrus Harouni at 1307 Sierra Alta Way that Umansky is currently listing for $18.85 million. Here, the sun-drenched grounds boast a zero-edge infinity pool that flows to an aquarium-like glass window above a bar on the lower level, offering an unusual underwater view of the pool above. “The glass wall creates visual interest, and without it, the water view would be obstructed for the entire lower level,” says Umansky. “The water is also visible from virtually every corner of the home, creating a natural connection between indoor and outdoor spaces.”
Jeanette Tang, a senior associate and senior project designer at Burdge & Associates says that budget really is the only limit to creativity. One of her favorite pool projects can be found at a newly constructed bluff-top retreat offering panoramic ocean views at 33740 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, which now is on the market for $57.5 million. Designed by Burdge & Associates owner Doug Burdge, the resort-style grounds feature a covered, open-air pavilion with a fireplace, an al fresco kitchen with a pizza oven, a grill and two stone-crafted bars that flow to a 70-foot-by- 25-foot ocean-view pool with a spa, sunken lounge area, pool bath and fire pit.
“The project is unique in the sense that the pool is located above the roof line of the house,” says Tang. “When you are hanging out at the pool, you see the ocean beyond the main house, and we designed a pool pavilion that has a full kitchen and outdoor living room, including a TV.”
One thing’s for certain, homeowners take their pools very seriously in L.A. “The indoor-outdoor trend will continue in L.A. as outdoor living becomes more prominent, and a pool is the perfect complement to the lifestyle.”
Warren Dow and Bob Sievers former Wall Street hedge fund manager discuss the state of the Manhattan Beach Strand real estate market, now and into the future. Plus we ask Bob Sievers for some tips for Buyers and Sellers from the real estate agent’s perspective, and how they can improve their representation within the market place.
Written by Wendy Bowman
A lavish estate has re-entered the L.A. market with a hefty new price tag, thanks largely to the landmark sales of a duo of $100 million single-family homes in the area in 2016. Two of the city’s highest-ever recorded deals, the transactions were handled by The Agency and included the Playboy Mansion in the Holmby Hills section of Bel-Air—purchased by Hugh Hefner’s next door neighbor, Daren Metropoulos, principal at the private-equity firm Metropoulos & Co.—and 301 N. Carolwood Drive—a 38,000-square-foot spec mansion on the grounds of Barbra Streisand’s former Mon Rêve estate in Holmby Hills procured by Detroit Pistons owner, Tom Gores.
Now hitting the market for $129 million after a yearlong hiatus is billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene’s Palazzo di Amore—a palatial Mediterranean-style estate perched on a 25-acre promontory overlooking the historic Beverly Hills Hotel. Also listed by The Agency, the residence, at 9505 Lania Lane, was crafted by a team that included developer Mohamed Hadid, architect Bob Ray Offenhauser and designer Alberto Pinto.
“We feel now is the perfect time for a house of this grandeur to enter the market,” says Stacy Gottula, who is co-listing the residence with Mauricio Umansky, both of The Agency. “Mr. Greene is motivated to sell because he is spending most of his time now in Palm Beach with his family, and he feels the price of $129 million reflects the current status of the luxury real estate market.”
According to The Agency’s 2016 Annual Report, L.A. saw an increase in average sale prices of single-family residences by about 1.5 percent, along with an increase in demand. Fourth quarter 2016 was a particularly strong period for home sales of more than $5 million, with transactions up 15 percent year-over-year and 4.3 percent quarter-over-quarter. Expect the momentum to continue into 2017, with many new homes just competed in the $100 million range.
“Los Angeles is one of the best places in the world to call home, and each year we welcome more affluent individuals who recognize the appeal of living in this exquisite locale,” says Gottula. “For the most discerning buyers, the warm weather, fine dining and unparalleled entertainment options the city offers are priceless. Unwilling to compromise on the lifestyle, they also seek the finest residences. To meet the demand, we are seeing more developers building spec homes and movement in the resale market.”
Location plays a large factor in determining a price point, with areas such as Beverly Hills, Bel-Air and Malibu commanding high dollar given their reputation and services. The $100 million properties also are situated on larger lots and the majority are new construction, complete with the latest technology and amenities. For the $129 million price tag on Greene’s 12-bedroom, 23-bath Palazzo di Amore, the new owner will get a grand chef’s kitchen with a commercial walk-in refrigerator; a 10,000-bottle wine cellar boasting temperature-controlled rooms for wine storage
and a large tasting room with stone flooring and vaulted brick-barrel ceilings; and an unrivaled master suite featuring a fireplace with hand-carved wood mantel, sitting area with Juliet balconies, and beautifully finished dual baths with massive showroom-quality walk-in dressing rooms.
Yet other standout features include a Moroccan room sporting custom hand-painted wood panels and a Turkish-style spa featuring floor-to-ceiling iridescent Moroccan tiles. Meanwhile, outdoors, one will find lushly landscaped grounds with terraced vineyards; a tennis court and pavilion; a 128-foot reflecting pool and fountain; and a new two-level, 15,000-square-foot entertainment complex with a DJ booth, revolving dance floor and laser-light system, two-lane bowling alley and game room, theater that seats 50 for live stage shows and movie screenings, and a sun room that opens to a relaxing pool and spa.
For those with deep pockets, Palazzo di Amore is not alone when it comes to expensive homes. Other pricey digs now available include the most expensive home in the U.S.—an extravagant Bel-Air masterpiece at 924 Bel-Air Road built by high-end developer Bruce Makowsky, complete with amenities and bespoke items culled from around the globe and an asking price of $250 million (represented by Williams & Williams Estates and Rodeo Realty)—and The Manor, the former Holmby Hills home of Aaron and Candy Spelling, listed at $200 million by Hilton & Hyland.
As a young boy growing up in Los Angeles, in a family of modest means, real estate entrepreneur Aaron Kirman used to ride his bike to an upscale neighborhood in the Valley just to glimpse all of the expensive homes for sale. He also begged his parents to take him to open houses. Despite suffering from severe learning disabilities—including dyslexia and a speech impediment that prevented him from saying the letter “R”—he entered the real estate ranks at age 18 while attending USC and never looked back.
Fast-forward to today, and the 39-year-old is one of the most successful real estate agents not only in L.A., where he is based, but across the globe as well, amassing an exclusive client roster rife with CEOs, celebrities and royalty, selling $3.5 billion in homes to date. He also appears regularly on CNBC’s Secret Lives of the Super Rich, and was named the 12th top real estate agent in the U.S. by The Wall Street Journal in 2016. Here, Kirman, president of Aaroe Estates, the luxury property division of the John Aaroe Group, divulges to DIGS how he got into real estate, his personal abodes, the secret of his success and more.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE REAL ESTATE BUSINESS?
I put myself through college selling real estate. When other kids were in school and partying, I was working and obsessed with real estate and doing deals. I fell into a cool niche selling architectural homes by R.M. Schindler and John Lautner, and people started to recognize my name. Then I was an executive and ran the architectural division at Hilton & Hyland for about nine years, and shifted into the estate division at John Aaroe Group about five years ago. Now, we have the largest market share of the most expensive homes in country.
WHAT IS YOUR REAL ESTATE FOCUS NOW?
It just continues to grow with some of the country’s most expensive estates. We recently sold the Danny Thomas estate for $65 million, which was the second-highest sale in Beverly Hills. I now have about $650 million in active inventory. We have five estates above $50 million; I like to specialize in uber-high-priced and very unique homes. I’m also working on building my team, which has been a fun challenge. We have about 30 on our team. I’ve been selling solo for many years, and now have the dynamics of a team. I like to call them my kids, even though some are 60 years old. I like to watch their careers grow; it’s been inspiring for me. They need me, and my portfolio and contacts, and I can teach them.
TELL ME ABOUT SOME OF THE HOMES YOU HAVE IN YOUR INVENTORY RIGHT NOW. Some of my actives include the Edie Goetz estate in Bel Air for $79 million (where the socialite lived and hosted extravagant parties), and an $85 million mansion in Beverly Hills that both Cher and Eddie Murphy lived in at one time. From there, I have a stunning $60 million compound on the ocean that was in a TV show and has been leased by some of top celebrities in the country, and a gorgeous, uber-modern $49 million house owned by fashion designer Charles Park of Sugarlips. I also have a bunch of beautiful moderns priced from $20 million. I still love listing some of my old stuff, like a beautiful [Richard] Neutra in Hollywood Hills. It has significant architecture, and I’m looking for the right buyer who’s going to restore it.
WHO ARE SOME OF THE MOST MEMORABLE PERSONALITIES YOU’VE WORKED WITH?
I’ve worked with sheiks from the Middle East, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia; celebrities from Orlando Bloom to Rihanna to Nicki Minaj; and fashion designers like Jeremy Scott. Everyone is so interesting, and they all have a unique story. What’s fun is the diversity, from royalty to celebrities to CEOs to just ordinary people. I also love helping my friends buy their houses and seeing the growth of some of my friends. I’ve represented some friends who were buying starter homes 20 years ago and now they’re in $15 million houses.
IS THERE ONE TYPE OF ARCHITECTURE THAT PARTICULARLY APPEALS TO YOU? I’m personally a big fan of Mid-Century homes. Houses done in the 1960s, and sometimes ’50s, were so advanced and ahead of their time, with walls of glass and indoor-outdoor spaces. Some of those architects were masters at figuring out the right house to put on the right site. Lately, I’ve been a fan of transitional architecture, where you have a traditional style and more modern interiors. I’ve seen a lot of that during my travels in Europe.
WHAT IS THE HOT AREA RIGHT NOW?
Los Angeles is the hottest real estate market on the planet; it’s crazy how hot our market is. There is so much wealth all over and so many people from across the globe—from Europe, Asia and the East Coast—are pouring money here. L.A. is hotter than New York and other markets that used to be bigger. We have some of the most expensive sales in the world right now in Bel-Air, Beverly Hills and the Hollywood Hills. The price increases we’ve seen to date are astronomical. We have had four sales of about $100 million, and that’s crazy. We never would have been close to demanding those dollar amounts 10 years ago. It’s amazing, and it’s only going to go up. L.A. is cheap, according to the world market. You get so much bang for your buck here for whatever your budget is: more land and space, and that’s what’s driving our market to be so good.
WHAT ARE THE MOST VALUABLE AMENITIES PEOPLE ARE SEEKING?
One is privacy, which is the most important desire for people with wealth, and the second is grounds or view. We have sold homes with almost every amenity possible—from theater-sized media rooms to wine cellars that could hold 80,000 bottles—but, primarily, people want land, privacy and a view.
DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM PROPERTY?
I sell really big, gorgeous, opulent homes…and I like simple, beautiful homes. I live in a high-rise, and I just bought a house in Beverly Hills with walls of glass. It’s a modern house with a pool, great indoor-outdoor flow and an open floor plan, and it’s great for entertaining and living a happy life. I personally don’t have a desire to live in a huge house, although I do love to sell them.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR HOME?
I love my master bedroom; it’s my retreat—my space where I have my privacy and my time alone. There’s nothing like being able to go home and rest in your room at night. In my high-rise, I love my view. I’m on a high floor and can see the entire city—from Downtown to Century City—and that’s also pretty great.
WHAT DOES LUXURY MEAN TO YOU?
Being able to live the life I choose to live. That doesn’t necessarily come in the form of material objects. I’m blessed to have pretty much any material object I desire, but it really means to live a great life and to spend time with friends and family, to eat well, and to travel and see the world. I live a very wonderful life that is well-rounded, and I’m proud of that. It’s not easy to do that at the level of real estate I do. I take time for family, friends and myself.
TO WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE YOUR SUCCESS?
In general, successful people are very strategic; you have to be. You have to be ahead of the curve, and able to make the curve. You have to be creative. Successful people don’t want to follow the pack, but they have to be ahead of the pack. Strategic alliances, partnerships and team work also are important. Marketing and advertising are super important as well. Even print; people say print is dead, but I disagree. People still love to read, and that’s what sells. Tech is uber-important in the national and international world; we’re spending more energy and money on that. Social media is super important, and continuing to develop contacts and the networks we have. Taking time to tell stories about the properties and clients, even ourselves, is important. I always like progressing and finding bigger and better ways to do something.
WHAT’S YOUR BEST PIECE OF REAL ESTATE ADVICE?
The world has changed, and it’s a really competitive business. But, if someone wants to get in it, they need to be passionate and prepared to work super hard and find what is going to make them different so they will stand out from the crowd. The main piece of advice is you should specialize in something and be unique, and if you do that, you will have a great chance at success. For me, I like to tell the story of someone with a modest upbringing who had challenges growing up, and for the grace of God and luck, has sold $3.5 billion of homes to some of the most famous people in the world. I like people to know that they can do whatever they want to do with hard work. It’s not always based on who you know and having a privileged background. I look back and I’m super grateful, and sometimes I pinch myself and say, ‘Wow, I did it.” But I always knew I would and I feel like we’ve just begun. I’m not sure where we’re going, but we’re just beginning.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING WHEN YOU AREN’T WORKING?
I love to travel and explore the world, and I mediate every day. I love dinners with friends; I just spent a Sunday by the pool with lots of friends. I love to be by the water, whether it’s a pool or the beach. I also love to bike ride. I just like to live.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR YOU?
We’re doing a lot of TV these days. I’m a spokesperson for CNBC’s Secret Lives of the Super Rich. I love getting interviewed on TV about where the market is and where we’re going. I also love building a team that’s already one of the most knowledgeable and successful in the country, and getting bigger and better every day. I’d like to expand our market share. We have the best inventory in L.A. and abroad, but I would like to develop more international and national alliances.
Photography Courtesy of Matthew Momberger and Michael McNamara
Written by Abigail Stone | Photography Courtesy of Paul Jonason
A glamorous aura envelops Bel-Air. This enclave speaks to the ultimate in luxury and exclusivity. You can feel it the moment you pass through one of the two residential gates, and leave the rush of Sunset Boulevard behind.
A gentle, diffused light dapples leafy roads. Homes are well hidden behind high, exquisitely maintained hedges. Driving by the occasional ornate open gate reveals curving driveways. Even the Hotel Bel-Air, with its bevy of snow-white swans, exudes a stately hush, its valets springing deftly into action to greet guests. You’ve entered a different world.
The feeling is only magnified as you follow the long, winding driveway that leads up to 10690 Somma Way—less than 15 minutes from the hustle and bustle of central Beverly Hills. Teasing glimpses of the landscape suggest that up top awaits momentous views. As the white gate pulls back to unveil the house, its balanced beauty and perfect proportions immediately alert you to the magnificence to be discovered inside. The home’s white plaster exterior is a nod to the heyday of Los Angeles’s architectural past and is as beautiful as it is practical, deflecting the day’s heat for a pleasingly temperate interior. There’s plenty of room to leave your car, with the graceful circular driveway easily able to accommodate an entire fleet of vehicles. The attached garage to the left of the home holds three cars, and there is an additional garage just inside the main gate that can accommodate five cars, but in another iteration, would also make an ideal artist studio, recording studio, editing suite or rehearsal space. If the home’s welcoming air recalls the exquisite and exclusive boutique hotels that dot Europe, it’s by no accident. This is a home basking in the seclusion that its lofty private world affords.
Despite the home’s grandeur, it is the surrounding scenery, not the building itself, which immediately catches the eye. The spectacular 180-degree setting captures the city at its glittering best, with the canyon below especially lush. Here and there, a few homes peek out. Beyond, the towers of Century City glisten like an emerald city and, on a clear day, you can fully experience the expansive jetliner views. The impressive four-acre property extends until its edges are blurred by the thick forest of trees that separate the home from its neighbors. How this house can be so close to the city and yet still feel so far removed is part of its magic.
Inside the home’s front door, a bright hallway leads to the first of many picturesque moments—a dramatic atrium, complete with a winding staircase, canopied by four large and leafy Ficus trees. Sunlight pours through the glass skylight, eliminating the need for lights during the day and brightening the rooms that wind around this central point. Here on the first floor are all the public spaces: a living room with a panorama of the magnificent scenery; an open dining room; two guest suites with their own patios as well as two additional guest rooms; a spacious kitchen, graced with every appliance; a plush screening room; and a generous den that overlooks the backyard. Each room flows graciously into the next, setting the perfect stage for any occasion, whether it’s an intimate dinner for two, a sumptuous gala, or a summer lawn party. The home is unique in that it exudes opulence without feeling cavernous.
The upstairs rooms, which also swirl around the central courtyard, achieve this same balance. These may be the home’s more private spaces, but no expense has been spared in their appointments. The master bedroom suite, which runs along the garden side of the house, has been created for first-class living: a deep balcony spanning the length of the room overlooks the rear garden, with a fireplace, his and her bathrooms, generous walk-in closets fitted with highly-polished wood shelving, and a Jacuzzi. There is also a private office on this floor, as well a small kitchenette—everything is accounted for. Yet, even in the midst of this elegance, where every wall whispers for a magnificent piece of art and there is no end of places to put prize sculptures, it’s the view that enchants.
Among the home’s other discoveries: the perfectly landscaped pool area with a graceful pavilion and sunken tennis court perched at the edge of the backyard, just beneath the outdoor bar and barbecue. Have you found the gym and spa yet? There’s that view again that its floor-to-ceiling windows highlight. Rumor also has it that socialite Nicky Hilton threw legendary parties on the tennis court that lasted well into the night. It’s not hard to imagine Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, or any of Hollywood’s other legendary luminaries lolling in the grass, drink in hand, as day turns to night. Once you arrive here, why would you ever leave?
Aerial photo courtesy of James Respondek/Sotheby’s International Realty
Written by Wendy Bowman
This extravagant mega-masterpiece built by high-end developer Bruce Makowsky definitely stands up to its billing as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” complete with amenities and bespoke items culled from around the globe. Found at 924 Bel Air Road—in the ultra-exclusive enclave of Bel-Air—the spec home also is setting a record as the country’s most expensive home ever listed for sale…and it’s easy to see why.
Coming in at 38,000 square feet (plus an extra 17,000 square feet of entertainment decks), the four-level property features two master suites; 10 VIP guest suites; three gourmet kitchens; five bars; a massage studio/wellness spa; fitness center; 40-seat 4K Dolby Atmos Theater; and four-lane bowling alley/lounge. But that’s not all!
Also offered is a sprawling auto gallery sporting cars valued at more than $30 million; seven full-time staff members; more than 100 curated art installations; an outdoor hydraulic popup theater; two fully-stocked champagne/wine cellars; a wall boasting a massive assortment of candy; one of the most advanced home-tech systems in the country; an 85-foot glass tile infinity swimming pool; and 270-degree mountain, ocean and skyline views. “This home was curated for the ultimate billionaire who wants the best of everything that exists in life,” says Makowsky. “Until now, the ultra-luxury market was void of homes that even came close to matching the level of mega-yachts and private jets that billionaires spend millions of dollars on every year. There are hundreds of new billionaires created each year and they are increasingly setting their sights on this coveted enclave of California for everything the state has to offer.”
The home is represented by Branden Williams & Rayni Williams of Williams & Williams Estates, and Ben Bacal of Rodeo Realty.
photos courtesy of Berlyn Photography
A stunning Mediterranean Revival-style estate owned by late film and TV director Arthur Hiller has been listed for $12.45 million. “Rarely does a compound with such a rich Hollywood history come on the market,” says Juliette Hohnen, who is co-listing the property with Annie Stewart, both of Douglas Elliman. “The home was built by its owner, who directed Love Story and lived there with his wife for more than 40 years. The house was a happy home and the couple died within weeks of each other, a true love story indeed.”
Situated in a private locale at 1218 Benedict Canyon Drive in Beverly Hills, the home offers more than 7,000 square feet of living space featuring six bedrooms (including a spacious master with an office and dual baths and closets); an impressive wood-paneled entryway that leads from the double front doors into a sunken formal living room that opens to the pool area; den with a bar and sunroom; professional chef’s kitchen with a butler’s prep area and walk-in pantry; and formal dining room.
“Adding to the Hollywood history, the house was designed by a production designer who worked with Arthur Hiller on some of his films,” says Stewart. “You won’t find many houses with as much love and character as this one. It truly is a special property, unlike any on the market now.”
photos courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate
An awe-inspiring architectural estate designed by visionary architects Hagy Belzberg and George Wittman has hit the market on Yellow Hill Road in Malibu for $12.5 million, extolling a breathtaking ocean and mountain panorama among its hallmark virtues. “The Yellow Hill retreat stands on the hills overlooking Malibu, with mesmerizing whitewater views of Leo Carillo State Beach and the never-ending vistas of the Malibu coastal headlands and Santa Monica Mountain’s most prominent peaks,” says Mimi McCormick, who is co-listing the property with Katie Bentzen and Sarah Kosasky, all of Partners Trust.
Found on a 32-acre site, the secluded 7,500-square-foot retreat features a main residence and guesthouse, both of which include cantilevered living spaces, walls of windows and sight lines engineered to capture the magnificent scenery. Among the highlights: a gorgeous saltwater pool and spa; generous indoor/outdoor entertainment areas; a large-scale kitchen and dining room; private office loft; 20-car motor court and double gated driveway.
photos courtesy of Scott Everts SAE photography
British singer/songwriter Robbie Williams and his wife, Adya Field, have let go of their modern traditional, multilevel mansion in Beverly Hills for $9.9 million. Originally listed for $11 million, the home is situated at 3312 Clerendon Road (between Beverly Glen and Benedict Canyon, in the affluent guard-gated community of Mulholland Estates).
Coming in at 10,000-plus square feet, the newly remodeled abode features seven bedrooms—including an “off-the-charts amazing master suite” with a large sitting area, custom closet, Zen-like bath, and terrace offering giant views of the San Fernando Valley and mountains beyond, according to Jeff Kohl, who co-listed the property with Mauricio Umansky, both of The Agency. Other highlights include a dining room with a mirrored wall; gym; recording studio; and 33,549-square-foot lot featuring a lush backyard complete with a kitchen, living room, dining area, and pool with waterfall and spa.
photos courtesy of Don Lewis/The Agency
Written by Wendy Bowman
Coming in at the top of the list is 301 N. Carolwood Drive, a 38,000-square-foot mansion on the grounds of Barbra Streisand’s former Mon Rêve Estate in the Holmby Hills section of Bel-Air. According to WEALTH-X, the 10-bedroom, 20-bath residence sold for $100 million to Detroit Pistons Owner Tom Gores. Among the home’s standout features: a lounge; wine room; theater complex with a separate valet entrance; dramatic indoor water wall spilling into a lap pool; salon with pedicure/manicure, steam and massage rooms; basketball and tennis courts; and parking for 50 cars within the gates, plus a 10-car garage, just to name a few.
A legendary Holmby Hills estate that once was home to the likes of Sonny and Cher and Tony Curtis sold to Sturmer Pippin Investments LLC for $90 million. Found at 141 S. Carolwood Drive, the 10-acre proper. features a Robert D. Farquhar-designed, Italian Renaissance-style residence built in 1936 that includes 12,200 square feet of living space. The gated property also offers two guesthouses, a 70-foot pool, duo of gatehouses and sunken tennis court.
This is one of the properties that the aforementioned Gores swapped as part of the $100 million deal for the Carolwood estate, letting go of the 20,000-square-foot home on 2-plus acres for a cool $40 million.
California real estate law firm Cox, Castle & Nicholson announced the closing of its client’s acquisition of the Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills for $100 million. The firm represented the buyer, next-door neighbor Daren Metropoulos, a principal at the private-equity firm Metropoulos & Co., in the sale. Originally designed in 1927 and purchased by Playboy Enterprises in 1971 for $1 million, the 5-acre proper. includes a 22,000-square-foot gothic Tudor house, several additional structures (including a game house) and a private zoo. Metropoulos bought his current home next door to the Playboy Mansion from Hugh Hefner in 2009. He plans to eventually connect the two properties to form one private compound.
This contemporary Bel-Air spec home developed by Jonathan Adler and Joe Englano sold for $39 million to British entrepreneur Howard Shore, founder of Shore Capital Group. Built in 2014, the 14,200-square-foot Paul McClean-designed mansion boasts seven bedrooms (including a master suite with dual custom Italian showroom closets), along with a billiards room, home theater, wine cellar with thumbprint security access, gym with steam room, 91-foot infinity-edge pool and 10-car subterranean parking garage with turntable.
This gated estate in Holmby Hills said to have been the home of Betsy Bloomingdale and her late husband, the department-store heir and financier Alfred, sold for $38.750 million. Among the outstanding features of the nine-bedroom, 10,000-square-foot home are numerous entertaining spaces, including a formal living room, wood-paneled library, billiards room and catering kitchen with staff dining room.