The Real Estate Deals

Hollywood players are flocking to the boho beach burgh, leading to a jump in sales and prices.

Two multimillion-dollar properties, both of which had been languishing on the market for more than two years, have just sold -- a sign that real estate is back in a big way. And that the residences were owned by Hollywood icons Anjelica Huston and the late Dennis Hopper only illustrates how connected the industry is to Venice.

Hopper’s eclectic Indiana Avenue compound, which includes a main house and three condos designed by Frank Gehry, sold for $5 million in August. Huston’s imposing Windward Avenue residence, a five-story structure partly designed by the actress’ late husband, sculptor Robert Graham, is under contract. The deal for the property, which was listed at $13.9 million, is expected to close by year’s end, and there are plans to convert it to an artsy social club, say real estate insiders, though details are scant.

“It’s great for Venice and the community -- it validates what is happening right now,” says Sotheby’s International Realty agent Gregory Bega, who has the Huston listing and declined further comment because the deal is in escrow. Bega says that Venice is getting its Hollywood moment because the community, still rough around the edges and home to a bevy of artists, offers a sensibility that no other Westside area can match. At least for some industry players. “It’s people that don’t need the big Beverly Hills or Holmby Hills house. They like the atmo- sphere, neighborhood and demographics.”

And it’s not just the multimillion-dollar residences changing hands -- the median list price of a Venice residence was $1.275 million in August, up 16 percent from a year earlier. The sweet spot for Hollywood buyers and sellers appears to be in the $1 million to $2 million range. To wit, a modern, 3,154-square-foot residence on Venice Way recently rented by DJ Samantha Ronson sold Aug. 16 for $1.95 million; a Spanish duplex on Grand Boulevard that counted Glee actress vanessa lengies as an investor and resident sold to 7 for All Mankind co-founder Peter koral on June 19 for $1.72 million; and director Renny Harlin’s three-bedroom Rialto Way house, listed for $1.999 million with Bulldog Realtors, went under contract Oct. 6 for an undisclosed sum.

Brokers say that streets near Abbot Kinney Boulevard, that cynosure of all things hip, are among the most desirable. “Windward Circle, two blocks from Abbot Kinney -- it’s such a destination, and it’s where people want to be,” says real estate agent Tami Pardee, who repped both parties in the Venice Way deal and the seller in the Grand transaction but declined to discuss the sales. “It’s like 2009 didn’t happen; it’s back to the height of the market.” The Venice Canals and so-called Walk Streets -- no car
traffic is permitted on streets like Amoroso Place -- remain desirable locales, too. The historic canals long have been a favored Hollywood shooting locale -- Showtime’s Californication films there -- and are home to such names as Maura Tierney and South Park’s Trey Parker. The canals also are inhabited by cinephiles known to take in movies on hot summer nights from their artfully scuffed rowboats, projecting such films as Jaws and The Iron Giant onto a homemade screen.

Billy Rose, co-founder of real-estate firm The Agency and an owner of Venice’s Cafe Gratitude, says a recent canal street listing of his attracted multiple offers. Ultimately, the 2,500-square-foot Howland Canal property, which is owned by Smothers Brothers manager Ken Fritz and includes a three-bedroom Spanish residence and adjacent cottage, went under contract for more than the $3.4 million asking price. Says Rose: “We got into a bidding war. And frankly, you are seeing a lot of that in Venice right now.”

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VENICE BY THE NUMBERS: Asking prices are on the rise as more properties are selling on a year-over-year basis in Venice’s 90291 and 90294 ZiP codes.

  • August 2011 Median List Price: $1.099 Million
  • August 2012 Media List Price: $1.275 Million (+16%)
  • August 2011 Properties Sold: 77
  • August 2012 Properties Sold: 89 (+16%)

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