Leonardo DiCaprio, Deepak Chopra and Hollywood's Push Into Healthy Real Estate
Combining two of L.A.'s top obsessions -- health and real estate -- might seem like the billion-dollar idea of the year. Or a $150 trillion one, if you ask Paul Scialla, founder of Delos, the world's first self-proclaimed "wellness" real estate firm. That's how the former Goldman Sachs partner values the planet's total real estate value. Add that to the $2 trillion Americans spend on health and wellness annually, and the 40-year-old Scialla says the home/health fusion has far-reaching potential: "If we spend 92 percent of our time indoors and we can introduce preventative practices, we can make a huge difference in every city and in every country. This is universal."
In an era of residential amenity overload -- home spas, hot-yoga rooms, meditation gardens -- Delos has hit upon a much broader residential concept: Living spaces with scientifically backed features designed to restore and revitalize residents. There are more than 50 health-promoting amenities in Delos interiors that Scialla says passively deliver 23 therapies to dramatically improve energy levels and sleep quality and also offer improved air, water and lighting qualities as well as a host of anti-microbial and even nutritional features. These aren't New Age, touchy-feely home decorating notions: Scialla and Delos co-founder Morad Fareed, a former Starwoods Hotels & Resorts Worldwide executive and member of the Clinton Global Initiative, partnered with researchers and doctors from Columbia University Medical School to develop many of the therapies.
Scialla tested out the concepts on his own 6,000-square-foot Meatpacking District loft that he shares with his identical twin brother, another Goldman alum. There he installed what has become the full flight of Delos features: Vitamin C-infused showers; proprietary circadian rhythm-based lighting that streams energy-inducing light in the morning and melatonin- (and thus sleep-) promoting rays in the evening; raised pebble floors that work as reflexology pathways; and posture-supporting floors, among other restorative luxuries. "My sleeping patterns and energy levels have improved dramatically," says Scialla.
If the idea originated on the East Coast, however, it's poised to make major waves in Los Angeles, where hundreds of thousands of square feet of what the company refers to as "wellness real estate" -- single-family mansions, massive mixed-use projects, restaurants and offices -- are set to start construction in 2014. And Hollywood is among the earliest of the early adopters seeking a piece of the high-end healing home action. Early investor Leonardo DiCaprio has just signed on to join its advisory board. This comes on the heels of the actor's reported purchase this month of one of Delos' first homes to come to market: one of five Greenwich Village residences on 11th Street that offers the full flight of health-promoting features.
While Delos would not confirm the DiCaprio purchase, New York power realtor Dolly Lenz, who has all five listings, says the homes are priced between "just under $16 million up to $50 million for the largest unit, which is 10,300 square feet." (But before you can cry "Goldman-era money grab," Scialla and Fareed have committed to building 40 homes in Haiti for every residence sold. This is in addition to the William Jefferson Clinton Children's Center that Delos will work on with the U.S. Green Building Council in that country. Construction on the orphanage will start in early 2014.)
L.A.-based SFA Design's Sue Firestone and Kara Smith were placed at the decorating helm of the 11th Street project. The duo, whose clients include Oracle chairman Jeffrey Henley, and Mary Hart and Burt Sugarman, were responsible for transforming the company's mind-and-body concepts into three-dimensional interior design reality -- from lighting to groutless and anti-microbial countertops. "This was all about taking the concept of wellness and making it look luxurious, not sterile," says Smith.
In L.A., will.i.am has enlisted the company to create a makeover of Boyle Heights' Estrada Courts, the housing project where he was raised. The company's work roster also includes a Montecito estate, which will be Delos-ized into a restorative oasis, and a partnership with Lyfe Kitchen so that all its new restaurants will have the Delos stamp. The healthy real estate firm also will work on The Bloc, a 1.8-million-square-foot downtown residential-retail-office project.
Last month, the company unveiled its first completed project in L.A. -- the global headquarters of CBRE, the world's largest commercial real estate company. "CBRE is an opportunity to measure how cleaner air and desks, lighting and the space itself can affect not just how people work, but also shared vision and emotional bonds among workers," says Deepak Chopra, another advisory board member.
"In L.A., you've already got a wellness-minded population," says Scialla. "We've done some outreach there, but mostly it's people coming to us. At this point, it's growing by the day."