Los Angeles Real Estate: 3 Booming Areas

LAs_Boom_Blocks_Rendering - H 2014
Courtesy of Williams Williams

LAs_Boom_Blocks_Rendering - H 2014

Hillcrest, the Venice Canals, Rivas — who needs 'em? Three newly hot areas offer fresh appeal, as their own burgeoning A-list streets attract top homebuyers, flippers and developers, all hoping for the next eight-figure valuations

This story first appeared in the Jan. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Promontory pioneering may be a real estate art form perfected in Los Angeles. Bel Air, Trousdale Estates and the Bird Streets -- areas that are prized for their relative bounty of jutting chunks of land tailor-made for capturing 270-degree, downtown-to-ocean panoramas -- have been at the center of the city's recent full- frontal-view obsession. But that mania for scoring an A-list cityscape has launched prices into astronomical territory, according to Hilton & Hyland real estate agent Branden Williams. The search for protruding properties has pushed him into "the taboo land east of the Sunset Strip," he says. "The reality is, there's very little margin left in Trousdale and the Bird Streets."

Case in point: Williams and wife/partner Rayni Romito Williams' $85 million, one-acre listing on one of Trousdale's most exclusive blocks, Hillcrest Road. The 23,000-square-foot spread reportedly is being seriously considered by Jay Z and Beyonce, who have visited the property multiple times. "To get a lot with these kind of views in Trousdale or the Bird Streets, you're now talking $25 million to $70 million," says Branden. "That's for the lot -- as in, before you even build anything on it."

So the Williamses, along with some of the city's top luxury developers, have turned their attention to a different set of streets in the Hollywood Hills, especially Stanley Avenue and Curson Terrace. And these blocks represent one of three microneighborhoods where a new crop of properties is suddenly heating up with builders and buyers.

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Hollywood Hills East of Sunset Strip

Call it a case of magical metrics: Lots amid some of the more quiet, Starline-van-free, tree-lined streets east of the Sunset Strip are both properly perched for huge views and relatively undervalued when compared to other areas. It's enough to attract such key clients of the Williamses as Jeremy Renner and business partner Kristoffer Winters, who purchased a $7 million spread on Curson Terrace last year. "This very same lot with comparable views would cost $35 million in the Bird Streets," says Rayni of the one-acre property, which is located just up the street from neighbors Drew Barrymore and Will Kopelman, who are longtime residents of the area. Barrymore purchased the 7,800-square-foot residence at the end of a private road in 2002 for a reported $4.35 million. Just a few blocks away, the Williamses sold Megan Ellison her three-acre-plus Mt. Olympus compound for $30 million a year ago.

"The Ellison sale really changed everything. She was the first to really push the high, high-end market east of Laurel Canyon, and people follow her," says real estate agent Josh Altman. "Curson Terrace and Stanley are in a buy-now situation. It's like the stock market, and now is the opportunity." The Million Dollar Listings star currently has Hayden Panettiere's former home, located on an acre-plus Curson Terrace lot, which is being sold (along with approved architectural plans for a 10,400-square-foot home with "jet-liner views") for $5.8 million, as well as a new-build, indoor-outdoor home on Stanley for $2.5 million. "Here you can buy for $5 million, invest $5 million and sell for upwards of $16 million. More than seven properties are currently being developed in the area, some which could go for more than $20 million," says Altman.

"The authenticity and patina of early California architecture mixed with modern homes, buildings and views, coupled with mom-and-pop restaurants and great nightlife, makes it a no-brainer," says Winters, who with Renner is one of L.A.'s kings of high-end home flipping. In 2013, the duo's opulent overhaul of a Holmby Hills estate went for $25 million to British luxury developer Christian Candy.

On Curson Terrace, Renner and Winters recently completed demo of the site's original midcentury structure, and construction on a steel and concrete, 10,200-square-foot home cosseted with wraparound water features has started. It's expected to be completed in August 2015. Asking price: $25 million.

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Venice East of Lincoln

"The real get in Venice right now is to find a house that's on a large lot and near the beach," says Tami Pardee of Pardee Properties. "Pretty much the only place where you can get that combination is in an area just east of Lincoln. And right now, that area is really taking off."

Bracketed by Venice Boulevard and Rose Avenue, the neighborhood already is home to such industry types as actor-director Peter Berg and recently has attracted a new breed of homebuyer, including Endemol CEO Charlie Corwin, who purchased a home in the area this year.

"Two years ago, lots were going for $1.3 million to $1.5 million; now it's $2.3 million. Newly built homes are going for $5 million," says Pardee, who adds that top architects such as Marmol Radziner, Dennis Gibbens and Mario Romano have almost entirely transformed streets such as Appleton Way and Vienna Way. Also fueling the frenzy is the recent revitalization of nearby Lincoln Boulevard, where Paul Hibler's Superba Food + Bread, indie toy shops and a fresh crop of boutique home, design and clothing stores all are bringing a new walkability to the area.

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Pacific Palisades Village

Walkability also will be a major factor in Pacific Palisades, predicts Santiago Arana, real estate agent and principal with The Agency. "It's tough for developers in the Palisades right now. Before you could buy a tear-down for $1.1 or $1.2 million, build a house for $1.2 million and sell it for $3.1 million. Those days are pretty much over," says Arana of the high-end beach community, where newcomers such as Reese Witherspoon and her husband, CAA's Jim Toth, purchased a $12.7 million five-bedroom mansion in a secluded section of the Palisades in September this year. But the agent cites Rick Caruso's just-closed proposal for a massive downtown Palisades makeover as the cause for the surge of interest in a group of streets -- Bestor Boulevard, Monument Street, Whitfield Avenue and Via de la Paz north of Sunset. Caruso's plan includes reopening the Bay Theater, which closed in 1978, as well as shops, restaurants, a large underground parking structure and additional street parking. "People in the Palisades need to drive 45 minutes to see a movie and shop," says Arana, who sold Lady Gaga her $23 million Malibu estate this year, together with Mauricio Umansky. "With Caruso's plan, people can now walk to all of that, and it's presenting an opportunity for buyers and developers on the streets that are best positioned to take advantage of it." Even though the Grove-ification of the area will be years in the making, Arana is clear that forward-thinking residential developers don't let a little thing like time get in the way. "It may be three years or more before the full effect is reflected in home prices -- all the more reason that now is the time."