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This story first appeared in the Nov. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Five years ago, the housing market in the hilly enclave above the Sunset Strip was on the ascent. Among the notable sales was a four-bedroom contemporary on famed Blue Jay Way that billionaire philanthropist Ted Waitt acquired from producer Megan Ellison in 2011 for $11.5 million. Since then, values have soared ever higher: This September, Waitt put the property back on the market with an asking price of $20 million. Another development: “Shovel-ready” has become an increasingly common term in Bird Streets real estate listings. Recent teardown targets include the 10,000-square-foot Oriole Way mansion that equity fund founder Alex Soltani acquired in January for $32 million from Dr. Dre (who’d purchased it for $15.4 million in 2011) and the four-bedroom traditional on Warbler Place that comic book mogul Stan Lee now is offering for a $3.8 million asking price.
In 2012, a sculptural villa designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legoretta for Ricardo Montalban was razed to make way for an 18,000-square-foot spec designed by gigamansion specialist Paul McClean — which broke neighborhood sales records at $39 million. Will the Bird Streets’ popularity bring about its downfall? Though longtime stalwarts Leonardo DiCaprio and Keanu Reeves remain, other A-listers such as Jodie Foster, Tobey Maguire and Christina Aguilera have flown the coop. Former resident Nick Offerman has said: “We could never get sick of this place, but the neighborhood has turned into a clusterf—.”
Price per square foot is up 30 percent
In 2011, the most desirable properties in the neighborhood were commanding more than $2,000 per square foot. Now, $3,000 per square foot is not unheard of.
Number of properties on the market
In 2011, there were 15 houses on the market ranging in price from $1.25 million to $18 million. Currently, there are 22 properties for sale, ranging in price from $1.975 million to $33 million. Seven of the listings today are described as either “shovel-ready” or a “development opportunity.”
Rise in spec development
The profit potential has lured spec developers to the chagrin of longtime residents. “Construction is out of control,” says showrunner Jenny Bicks, one of the co-founders of the nabe’s Doheny Dining Club with her husband, producer Adam Peck. “People are building $30 million hillside monsters.”
Building McMansions — underground!
Some developers have been ignoring 2011 anti-mansionization laws and digging into hillsides to make multiple subterranean levels, referred to euphemistically as “basements.” Since a 2014 limit on excavations, they’ve been using plumbers’ vans instead of trucks to secretly transport dirt out.
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