Inside the Suddenly Booming Neighborhood George Clooney and Miley Cyrus Call Home

Studio City Sexes Up - H 2015
Courtesy of Stirdivant

Studio City Sexes Up - H 2015

It "isn't the Valley" anymore as exclusive Fryman Canyon welcomes Bruno Mars, Grant Heslov and Marti Noxon among the names looking for big spreads and extra privacy without Westside prices.

This story first appeared in the March 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Trousdale Estates and the Bird Streets may hog the spotlight as L.A.'s top hillside celebrity enclaves, but there's a quiet hotspot growing just over the hill in the Valley.

In the last year, A-listers and industry insiders ranging from Bruno Mars to Smokehouse Pictures' Grant Heslov have been buying homes in Studio City's exclusive Fryman Canyon -- a small community of about 250 homes west of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and south of Ventura Boulevard that George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, Julie Bowen and NBCU Cable president Jeff Wachtel already call home.

"It's quiet and lush and green," says Lysa Heslov, Grant's wife and the founder of after-school-programming nonprofit Children Mending Hearts. The couple moved from Sherman Oaks in December to a four-bedroom on nearly an acre that she says is far more private than their previous home, where "people were finding where we lived. Our dry cleaner was dropping off his script." She also cites hiking in Fryman Canyon Park as a top draw.

Sale prices are soaring -- not just in Fryman Canyon but throughout Studio City. According to Redfin, the average sale price of luxury homes in the area was $2 million in 2014, up 14 percent from 2013.

One attraction, says Hilton & Hyland agent Zach Goldsmith, is that buyers get more for their money in terms of square footage and land. "Not as much as you used to, though," he cautions, "but it's better than the Westside."

Nick Tershay, founder of skateboard clothing line Diamond Supply Co., is in escrow to sell his 4,500-square-foot renovated midcentury house in the hills to an unnamed female star. The sale will mark a record price for a home under 5,000 square feet in the neighborhood: $3.8 million. "You can get a 25,000-square-foot lot, views and a gated home for under $4 million and still be close to all the action," says Keven Stirdivant at Keller Williams. "In Trousdale Estates, this property would be $7 million."

Mars recently purchased a 9,000-square-foot residence for a near-record area price of $6.5 million. It includes an infinity pool and steam and dry saunas. Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce creator Marti Noxon bought a four-bedroom midcentury in Fryman for $2.8 million in September.

But to get in, one needs patience. "You'll never see more than five or six [Fryman Canyon] homes on the market at one time," says Coldwell Banker's Joe Breckner. Nearby residential areas that are increasingly desirable are the hilly enclaves around Sunshine Terrace and the Dona Streets, as well as an area called the Silver Triangle -- walkable to Ventura Boulevard -- where new modern homes are going up.

Some people, though, still have "an allergic reaction" to the Valley, according to PLG Estates broker Peter Lorimer. "It's kind of hilarious. I say, 'Why haven't you thought about Studio City?' And they say, 'I'm not moving to the Valley,' and I say, 'Studio City isn't the Valley. It's Hollywood Hills North.' "

Indeed, Studio City is becoming more like the Westside than its sleepier neighbor cities. Ventura Boulevard brims with boutiques and restaurants, including new outposts of Joan's on Third and Lemonade. "It's probably one of the best-kept secrets in L.A.," says Nourmand & Associates agent Melody Rogers-Kelley. "So many celebrities are there because the studios are close and residents really try to keep the publicity down."