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This story first appeared in the Nov. 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
If the best place to see the stars in Los Angeles is Griffith Observatory, a close runner-up would be the neighborhood surrounding it. Largely developed in the 1920s and ’30s, the Griffith Park/Los Feliz tract has been popular with the entertainment crowd since the silent film era, counting Gary Cooper, Carole Lombard, Cary Grant and Cecil B. DeMille among its former residents and Natalie Portman, David Fincher, Kristen Stewart, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and Warner Bros. president of worldwide marketing and international distribution Sue Kroll among its current ones.
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Long a competitive market, the area in recent months has seen home sales heat up to blistering levels, with median sales prices up 18.2 percent compared with 2013, according to Trulia. “It’s a feeding frenzy,” reports Laura Stupsker, an agent with The Agency. “There’s not a lot of inventory, so all the good places are getting snapped up, with multiple offers.” Especially coveted are properties inside gated Laughlin Park (including a former Charlie Chaplin home) and on the “Oak” streets, where techno king Moby recently acquired a 1920s Tudor for $2.9 million.
What sets the neighborhood apart is its dense concentration of architecturally significant homes — a dizzying array of outstanding specimens designed by masters including Frank Lloyd Wright Sr. and Jr., Wallace Neff, Richard Neutra, Stiles O. Clements, Raphael Soriano and Paul Revere Williams. Among the pedigreed properties now up for grabs is the Samuel-Novarro House, designed in 1928 by Lloyd Wright Jr. and formerly owned by Diane Keaton and Christina Ricci. The turquoise terra cotta-tiled residence on Verde Oak Drive has four bedrooms and four baths and is listed for $3.995 million. (A second Lloyd Wright, the Taggart House, a three-bedroom, historic landmark built in 1922 for the architect’s mother-in-law, is for sale at $3.295 million.)
Newly available for the first time in a decade is Neutra’s Alpha Wirin House. Owned by famed photographer Mark Seliger, the 1949 modern was given a sensitive yearslong restoration by designer Mark Haddawy. Featuring walls of glass, beamed ceilings, built-ins and spectacular views, the two-bedroom, two-bath house has a price tag of $4.5 million.
Perhaps the area’s most unusual listing is the historic property known as Artemesia. Located on gated Valley Oak adjacent to Pitt and Jolie’s compound, this 13,290-square-foot estate is said to be the largest Craftsman home ever built. Erected in 1913 for construction magnate Frederick Engstrum, its features include elaborate Tudor Revival interiors, Batchelder fireplaces and a 2,000-square-foot ballroom. Listing agent (and The Agency co-founder) Blair Chang says that the singular property has drawn the interest of several A-listers. Should the 2-acre estate fetch its $10 million asking price, it will shatter the area’s highest sales figure, set this spring when a historic Andalusian-style villa designed by Williams went to indie producers Esme Howard and Patrick Baker for $8.3 million. Still, points out Chang, a comparably sized property on the Westside would list “somewhere in the high teens.”
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