The Noted Architects of Los Feliz

Los Feliz is one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in Los Angeles due to the stunning views, beautiful homes, and relative affordability. Scattered across these hills are architectural gems evoking the ‘Old Hollywood” built by architects such as Leland Bryant, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Paul Williams. On a related note, I have a pocket listing designed by architect Elmer Grey. This is a 4 bedroom Spanish built in 1926 with unbelievable views- it even has a chapel! I can show it after Labor Day, but please call with any questions. 

 

Wallace Neff

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Wallace Neff is largely responsible for developing LA’s distinct architectural style referred to as “California style", featuring now common elements like Spanish tile, courtyards, and exposed wood. The A.L. Schoenborn residence, built  in 1924, before Neff was even 30, is one of his masterpieces (pictured above). His beautiful mansions can be found throughout Hancock Park, Beverly Hills, and Los Feliz- they have been owned by a range of the rich and famous from Brad Pitt and Diane Keaton to philanthropist Wallis Annenberg.

Frank Lloyd Wright

The infamous Frank Lloyd Wright needs no introduction. He left his mark throughout LA, and many of his stylistic homes are still intact including the Sturges House in Brentwood, the Freeman House in the Hollywood Hills, and the Ennis House in Los Feliz. The Ennis House is actually one of only four Mayan revival style houses in LA that is made up of 27,000 interlocking pre-cast concrete blocks. You might recognize it as Rick Deckard’s house in Blade Runner. 

Richard Neutra

Many modernist architects owe their inspiration to Richard Neutra. From the 1920s-1960s, Neutra designed dozens of homes, apartment buildings, and government buildings in the Los Angeles area alone. Sitting just across from the Ennis House is Neutra’s Alpha Wirin House, which features his signature Mid-century modern style. With sweeping views of the city, warm wood ceilings, balconies overlooking a pool, and a level of built-in seats, it’s a modernists dream.

 

Gregory Ain

Gregory Ain was known for bringing elements of modern architecture to lower priced housing, including a variety of homes in LA. After working for Neutra for a few years, he struck out on his own by building homes like the the Beckman Residence in Hancock Park and the Anselem A. Ernst House in Los Feliz. The latter, built in 1937, is a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, and has original walls of glass, high ceilings, original cabinetry/built-ins, a dual-level fireplace, and incredible views!

 

R.M. Schindler

Like many other architects of the time, R.M. Schindler trained under Wright, even helping to supervise construction of the Hollyhock House. Schindler liked to experiment, and therefore, inevitably developed a unique and distinct modern style that was responsive to the local culture. His 1950s Schlessinger House is a prime example of his architectural style, and ended up being the last home he ever built.

I am an expert in these vintage homes and would be thrilled to take you on a tour!

Downsizing - How to Re-Feather an Empty Nest

My son will be heading off to college next month, and the reality of being an empty-nester has struck me like a ton of bricks. Standing in the doorway to his bedroom and seeing the future, actually the floor which has been covered in clothes, towels, dishes and skateboards for years, leaves me with mixed feelings. Soon his room will be clean, and devoid of the wonderful chaos he has brought to this house for the past 19 years. I know this is a passage most parents face, especially this time of year, thus this months topic. 

As a soon-to-be empty nester, you won’t need as much extra space, the kids are gone, you’re traveling, and now your big family home is becoming too big. It might be time to downsize! Moving into a high-end condo is a great option for those who don’t need so much space, and are looking to eliminate some responsibilities. With a condo, you don’t have to worry about home repairs, lawn upkeep, high utility bills, or just cleaning rooms that never get used. Plus, many luxury condos come with perks like gyms, pools, and community events! 

You can still find condos with extra bedrooms so you can entertain, or when those kids inevitably come home with bags of laundry and voracious appetites for summer vacations. Plus, the built-in community of a condo lets you meet like-minded residents. Embrace your new kid-free life and enjoy the condo’s events, communal pool, or gym. 

Even if you aren’t an empty-nester, downsizing is an excellent option. Even small families with one child can enjoy living in condos. If you love to travel, a condo makes it easier to pick up and go, as you don’t have to worry about holding your mail or timing the sprinklers. Condos are often much more affordable than large homes, but with many more amenities than you get with a house.

Empty-nester or not, Los Angeles is a great spot to find a gorgeous luxury condo that’s tough to resist! 

Some things to consider: condos can have less privacy than a house, and living in closer quarters might not be for you. But, on the flip side, they also create a community of likeminded residents. You might find that you like getting to know the people around you and it's easy to visit new friends in the building. These buildings will sometimes offer fun events, and a communal pool, tennis court, or gym which allow you to easily meet your neighbors. 

Los Angeles has long been a hub for gorgeous luxury condos that are tough to resist! Historic pre-war doorman buildings offer elegance, security and the chance to live a glamorous Hollywood lifestyle.

As many of you know I work extensively with historic properties - Country Club Manor, Faubourg St Michelle, and Colonial House ( home of Bette Davis), to name a few. This Hancock Park building is a historic French-Normand style building built in 1926 by famous Los Angeles architect, Leland Bryant. The elegant lobby features a piano and cozy fireplace, and you can wander the grounds with hidden gardens and fountains.

Another building designed by Leland Bryant is the Colonial House in West Hollywood. This gorgeous property has been home to Hollywood stars Bette Davis and F. Scott Fitzgerald, among others, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Each light-filled unit has original bookcases, spectacular views, and updated kitchens. Don’t miss the beautiful heated pool nestled among the meticulously maintained grounds. 

If you’re interested in something a little more modern, check out 432 Oakhurst in Beverly Hills this sophisticated condo is the epitome of convenience and luxury. Each unit has a luxurious master suite, boasts spa-like soaking tub, and the spare bedrooms have en-suite baths and private balconies, The building boasts state-of-the-art fitness center, concierge, and guest lounges for extra space. There are currently units available in this building, contact me for details

For those who work downtown - or just want to explore this bustling hot spot - TenTen Wilshire is a luxurious high-rise to consider. Each suite comes furnished and with new kitchen appliances. But the real benefit is the rooftop, which has a pool, fire pits, outdoor game tables, and frequent networking events and happy hours, plus has sweeping views of DTLA. 

Or, switch out a city skyline for the beach and check out The Seychelles in Santa Monica. Luxury units include gourmet kitchens and private balconies, then get social and step onto the community rooftop. Lounge by the pool, attend parties on the terrace, and take your dog to the pet spa. 

Downsizing can offer great opportunities to live somewhere spectacular, get extra amenities, and remove the stress of owning a home! These luxury units are spacious and remodeled, and you’ll love the convenience. If you think it might be time to downsize please call me to help you “refeather you nest”

 

Frank Gehry's '8150 Sunset Project' Cannot Demolish The Lytton Savings Bank

As I mentioned back in January, Frank Gehry’s newest project has been under intense controversy from the very beginning. His development at 8150 Sunset was set to be placed right on top of the historic Lytton Savings/Chase Bank, much to the dismay and chagrin of preservationists. The bank was built in 1960 and is known for its zig-zag roof that showcases Googie architecture.

Well, last month there was finally progress in the "battle to save the bank". Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Amy Hogue, ruled in favor of the Los Angeles Conservancy in its lawsuit to stop the demolition of the Lytton Savings Bank.

“We’re very grateful for this decision, and we’re excited that the development project can move forward incorporating the historic Lytton Savings building,” said Linda Dishman, the Conservancy’s president and CEO to WehoVille.

Los Angeles is accustomed to the challenge, or privilege, of marrying old structures with newer ones, as evident from the countless modern buildings popping up next to historic structures all throughout LA.

“We’ve worked with many architects and developers to successfully integrate historic places into new developments, and now that can happen here,” said Adrian Scott Fine, the Conservancy’s Director of Advocacy. “Blending old and new is the wave of the future in Los Angeles.”

Initially, the developers explored two designs that included the historic building. Early on, the Conservancy began collaborating with the developers, Townscape Partners, to incorporate the bank. However, once Gehry developed a new design for the site, both plans that included the bank were eventually deemed not feasible and the city approved the demolition. This sparked the Los Angeles Conservancy to take drastic action to protect the building and inevitably lead to them filing their lawsuit.

What saved the building was the developer’s failure to fully comply with environmental impact rules set by the state. The court found the City of Los Angeles’ approval of the building’s demolition violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The law requires cities to study the effects of some new buildings on things like traffic, noise, animals, views and historic buildings in order to find ways to minimize potential harmful impacts.

At a court hearing, Hogue said it “didn’t seem right” for the developer and the city to demolish the building simply because they wanted to build something modern. In the end, she ruled to “withhold approval of demolition [of the bank building] unless it can prove the benefits of the project outweigh the significant environmental effect of demolition.”

The bank amounts to just 6% of the project’s total square footage, so there is trust that a new design will able to accommodate Lytton.

Despite the Conservancy’s efforts, the building could still be at risk. Hogue’s decision perhaps only bought time for Gehry’s team so they can come up with better justification for why the bank needs to be torn down. Gehry has made it clear that demolishing older buildings is part of life and something he's had to witness before with his own buildings.

It seems like almost every week there’s a new debacle between saving old buildings and bringing modern flair to Los Angeles. One of the things I love about LA is the mix of historic architecture with modern buildings, but alas, it is not always possible. For a building of such architectural significance, you would think they could find a way to incorporate the Lytton Bank. On the other hand, it might compromise the design of the new structure, and the current trend on Sunset Boulevard toward modern, glass buildings with a more contemporary urban feel.

What do you think – Should the Lytton Savings Bank be saved, or go the way of the dodo?

Financial Tools To Help You Save Money

The digital age has made it easier for all of us to order food, watch our favorite TV shows, receive purchased items within hours, and thankfully for us, even save money towards a new home! The following five financial apps and websites make it a cinch to save big in no time:

Mint

Mint is a great site to track your spending and create simple budgets. Once you've entered your online banking, credit and investment account information, Mint begins to automatically track your money. The default categories are sufficient for most people, but you can even add your own, for everything from restaurants to movies and travel. The site allows you to view your spending trends, as well as how much money you have in all your accounts at any one time. Mint comes with a free credit score and is owned by Intuit, so the data automatically feeds to TurboTax at tax time. The perfect way to start if you’re new to tracking your spending.

Acorns

Acorns is a savings tool that helps users save money by automatically investing change from each charge. Just like a squirrel saves a few acorns everyday for the winter, so to will you be prepared when you need your acorns the most. With micro investing, every purchase helps save towards your future. For instance, if a transaction costs $1.50, Acorns rounds it up to $2 and sends those extra 50 cents into an investment portfolio diversified with ETFs. It’s a mindless way to save big, and has a low fee of $1 a month on account balances below $5,000 and 0.25% per year on balances over $5,000. You can also set recurring or one time investments to boost your savings if you’re looking to save more than a few cents at a time. Squirrels are going to be so jealous of your acorn stashing robot.

Digit

Leave the saving to the robots with Digit. This app monitors your income and spending habits, then stashes small amounts of money every few days (or whenever it thinks you won’t miss it) into a savings account. They never deduct more than what they think you can afford and even provide a ‘no overdraft’ guarantee. When you’re ready to access your savings, just transfer the money back into your bank account. Similar to Acorns, Digit moves money in small intervals so you won’t even notice you’re saving. If you want to save without any hassle, Digit is a great option (plus, it’s free!).

You Need a Budget

This budgeting app helps users learn to live on last month’s income. You Need A Budget directly imports transactions from your bank accounts, but requires manual categorization by the user. The app says this helps you raise your awareness about your spending, and also provides the user with a harsh wakeup call when they are forced to view all their Uber charges. Their envelope-based system allocates the exact amount of income available, putting a cap on spending. The app costs $50 a year, but might be worth trying if you want to work with your money hands-on.

Personal Capital

For personalized financial help, Personal Capital assigns users financial advisors to answer all their questions regarding anything and everything, including retirement planning, refinancing and obtaining a mortgage. The site also offers a 401(k) fee analyzer and a retirement planner which crunches numbers to tell users whether they’re on track to meet their savings goals. An investment checkup tool looks at the asset allocation in a user’s investment accounts and recommends a target allocation. If you’re looking for someone to guide you through more complicated investments, Personal Capital fits the bill.


Download these apps and you’ll be a financial wiz in no time! Or, at least, you’ll figure out how much you’re spending on lattes.

Considering Investing In A Real Estate Investment Trust? Read This Before You Pull The Trigger!

Crowdfunding-REIT-real-estate-investment-trust-monopoly

A question has kept rolling around in my brain ever since I heard about crowdfunding real estate investing. Is it possible to invest a bit of money while at the same time saving for a house each month? If this is possible, it could mean freedom from a 30 year mortgage, or more likely, a quicker path to saving for a down payment. This article explores crowdfunding real estate investment opportunities and I will tell you if it is actually a game changer or not.

Ok, first things first, what is real estate crowdfunding and investing? Real estate crowdfunding and investing is the ability to invest a relatively small amount of money into a property or collection of properties. The investment is open to everyone so the cost of the property is divided between all parties and the rental income is collected and dispersed back to the investor. This became legal just last year under the Jobs Act. This new option is available to the general public, so let’s explore the possibilities and see who this type of investment is right for.

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This type of investment was born off the back of the real estate Investment Trust (REIT). A REIT is a collection of real estate that an investor can put his money into. Each investor owns shares, which represent a portion of the holdings of the fund. If you know what a mutual fund is then you can think of a REIT as a real estate centric mutual fund. REITs are popular because they diversify risk and they are mandated by law to pay out 90% of profits to shareholders each year. REITs are only accessible to accredited investors who make over $200,000 per year or who have at least $1,000,000 in assets minus their private homes.

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  (Realty Mogul)

When the SEC, Securities & Exchange Commission, adopted Title III of the Jobs Act, it opened the door for any investor to buy a REIT share even if they are unaccredited. Through licensed exchanges anyone can put money into a share of a piece of real estate or a portfolio of real estate. An investor can own a piece of a real estate deal for as little as $5,000.

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We talked with Royce Running, a Financial Advisor with Newport Harbor Wealth Management, to find out what he thinks of the crowdfunded REIT.

What do you think about the idea of young adults investing in a crowdfunded REIT every month as a way to start saving for a house?

“Not the best idea. REITs aren't very liquid so you may finally save enough, find your dream home, start the qualification process, then find out you can't get your money out of the REIT. The investor will not get their money back for 6-10 years.”

Where would you recommend someone to put their money if they have $100 per month to invest and want to save for a house?

“Low volatility liquid investments, such as fixed income/bond ETFs or high interest savings accounts. You want something that doesn't cost a lot and doesn't fluctuate too much, but also a vehicle where you can pull your money out when you reach the end of your time horizon.”

Given the opportunities and the current laws, who is this investment right for? 

“Crowdfunded REITs are excellent investments for the long-term investor who wants to get their feet wet in real estate without having to deal with managing tenants and all of the headaches that go along with being a landlord.”

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James Sprow, Director of Research with Blue Vault Partners, says: "We...do not recommend crowd funding of real estate as an avenue for individual investors to save or invest. It is especially inappropriate for individuals who wish to accumulate a nest egg or a down payment for a home.

The concept of crowdfunding is interesting but any investor who participates should be advised to do considerable due diligence prior to committing funds. The skills and experience necessary for such research and analysis is going to be well beyond most investors.  Again, individuals who are simply trying to save for a home purchase should be unequivocally warned to stay away from such programs and be advised to use conventional, low-risk, liquid methods for accumulating savings: Bank Savings Accounts, CDs (Certificates of Deposit) and Money Market Funds."

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The amount of money needed to invest is low, sometimes as low as $5,000. Crowdfunding may be enticing to beginning or novice investors because it is a relatively small amount of money to invest, and it seems like less risk, but this is not the case. The more knowledge of real estate you have the better your chance of substantial returns. Each deal will take extreme vetting on the part of the investor.

Unfortunately, my original hope is not feasible. Crowdfunded REIT’s are a very bad investment for a first time home buyer looking to save for a house or down payment. They do not allow you to get all of your money back easily, so it means that when you are ready to buy a home you won’t be able to count on that little nest egg.

The crowdfunded REIT is the wild wild west right now. It is inevitable that first time investors will lose their money or get it stuck without understanding the terms of their investment. Hopefully this article will dissuade some of you from making this mistake. The idea is still being defined and it is yet to be seen if the successful practices of the REIT will transfer over to the crowdfunded REITs. Right now, the space is mainly for investors looking to experiment.

“It’s predicted that commercial real estate crowdfunding in the U.S. will grow potentially to $10 billion in five years.”

Saving For Your First Home

The latest stats show that the median Los Angeles home price is $525,000. Anyone within the sound of my keyboard knows that a house for $525,000 is like a unicorn - they don't exist. So lets use $1mm as an example. So how do you prepare to put that 20% down - a whopping $200,000? Finance professionals say the best options for “individuals who are trying to save for a home purchase...are advised to use conventional, low-risk, liquid methods for accumulating savings: Savings Accounts, CDs and Money Market Funds," said James Sprow, Director of Research at Blue Vault Partners. These three, along with Exchange Traded Funds, ETFs, are all great options for new homeowners- read below to see which method is best suited for you!

 

Fixed Income/Bond ETFs

Exchange Traded Funds, or ETFs, trade like stocks but are more liquid and have lower fees than a mutual fund. When you purchase an ETF, you are buying a share of a bond, making you eligible for a portion of the profits. ETFs experience price changes throughout the day as they are bought and sold. It's like the stock market but more stable.

Pro: ETFs can have very high interest rates and keeping money in an ETF for a few years can have a large return rate.

Con: A broker fee is incurred and ETFs are not guaranteed to preserve capital as they’re based on the stock market.

As ETFs fluctuate with the market, it is almost impossible to predict the growth of your investment with any guarantee.

Learn more about ETFs here.

 

High Yield Savings Accounts

A savings account is a simple and proven strategy even your Grandma would approve of. You can find a great high yield savings account at most banks, particularly online ones, which offer great rates (no overhead of a brick and mortar bank). These accounts allow you to earn more interest, with the safety of being FDIC insured, and is a common way to save for a down payment.

Pro: You can access your money at any time, and with a little research, you can find a great interest rate.

Con: These do not have as high an interest rate as a CD, so if you’re not planning on touching your money for a few years, there are usually more lucrative options.

At an average 1% Annual Percentage Yield, APY, contributing $500 per month to your account, it would take you 17 years to save enough for the down payment while using a high yield savings account. Don't start choosing your paint colors just yet!

Learn more about high yield savings accounts here.

 

Certificate of Deposit (CD)

CDs allow you to deposit a chunk of money into a savings account and lock in a rate of return for the length of the CD. CDs are available in terms ranging from 6 to 60 months, with higher interest rates available if you're willing to leave your money in for longer amounts of time. For CDs, patience is a virtue!

Pro: CDs offer great interest rates and help you reach your savings goals faster by using money you don’t immediately need.

Con: If you end up needing to withdraw your money out of a CD before the term is up, you will likely incur a penalty.

If you don’t continue to add money to a CD, it’s advised to invest a larger chunk of money. For a 5-year CD, the average APY is 2%. So, if you invest $5,000, in 5 years your money will increase to $5,520.

Find more info about CD investments here.

 

Money Market Mutual Fund

A money market mutual fund is an investment that earns interest for shareholders while maintaining a Net Asset Value (NAV) of $1 per share. Confused? Basically, they are short-term securities that are a very safe, low-return type of mutual funds. You won’t get much back on these accounts- they act as a holding place for your money before you decide to invest it.

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Pro: Very safe with no chance of losing your money.

Con: Low return on your investment. You would be better off putting your money into a savings account with a higher interest rate.

Money Market accounts tend to have the same rates as savings accounts. Investing in an MMA will also take around 17 years to save enough for a down payment, saving $500.

If you'd like to learn more about money mutual funds, check this out.

OR

ROB A BANK. YOU WILL LIKELY GO TO JAIL AND YOU WILL IMMEDIATELY HAVE A “HOUSE”, NOT TO MENTION 3 SQUARES A DAY, HEALTH INSURANCE AND NO PROPERTY TAXES. ACTUALLY SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD RETIREMENT PLAN.

The Colonial House Has A Star Studded History

1416 Havenhurst Drive | West Hollywood, CA 90046

21 Units | 7 Stories

The Colonial House, built in 1930, is located in prime West Hollywood just below the Sunset Strip. It was designed by architect Leland Bryant, who also designed Savoy Plaza & Sunset Tower, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Colonial House has been home to many historic celebrities from Bette Davis, Cary Grant and Clark Gable to newer past residents, Jodie Foster and Katy Perry.

The Colonial House offers 21 residences on 7 floors with 1, 2 & 3 bedroom plans ranging from 700 to 2,500 square feet. The units offer outstanding period details like arched hallways, custom built-in cabinets, wrought iron work, French windows & high ceilings. This French Normandy building enjoys Mills Act status and offers tax benefits to unit owners. Lastly, the building boasts a doorman, gorgeous lobbies, a black bottom pool, a library & lovely gardens making it a dream place to live.

Ghosts Of Old Hollywood & The Places They Haunt

The stars of Old Hollywood can still be felt and seen all around the city. People tell stories of stars gone by and people dress up as them and traipse around the town. You can’t think of Hollywood without remembering stars of the past like Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis and Charlie Chaplin. These icons ran Old Hollywood, making their mark both on and off screen. When they weren’t making classic films, they spent time together, threw lavish parties and got into all kinds of hijinks. Here are some of their secret stories.

The devilish Bette Davis was known for making you feel right at home in her LA mansions, until you said something to upset her. One night, while making scrambled eggs and toast for her guests, she turned a knife on a long-time producer friend for complementing Bette’s rival Joan Crawford. You can bet he stopped requesting snacks that involved knives next time he came to visit! Bette called many places home over the years, with her final home being at The Colonial House in West Hollywood. Bette chose this apartment because it overlooked the La Ronda apartment house, where she first stayed when she arrived in California with her mother.

The Colonial House has also been home to many other celebrities including Clark Gable, Carol Lombard,  Cary Grant, Eddie Cantor, William Powell and Norma Talmadge. It was even featured in the 1954 crime film, “Down Three Dark Streets” (1954), starring Broderick Crawford. I currently have a 1 Bedroom apartment for lease in the building, the perfect choice for any lover of Old Hollywood glamour.

Stars of old seemed to change homes practically as often as they changed spouses. Which in some cases, ended up being biannually. Another famous LA partier was the Tramp himself, Charlie Chaplin, who at one time lived in a quirky Moorish home. Charlie Chaplin had lots of homes and lots of wives during his time on the Hollywood A-List, throwing lavish parties for both his friends and co-stars. Charlie was known for livening up the atmosphere at any event. Determined to be the center of attention, he’d dance with invisible balloons or mime a bull and matador and fight with himself. He’d even mimic Hollywood leading ladies, pretending to get them in all sorts of terrible behaviors. After a while, people stopped inviting Mr. Chaplin to their parties for fear of being mocked themselves!

For other stars, a home was an accessory. Joan Bennett’s longtime 14-room home in Holmby Hills went through a makeover halfway through her stay there. She explained, “I’d furnished the house when I was a blonde, and when I became a brunette [she began dyeing her fair hair around 1940], naturally the colors were no good with my dark hair. So I gave the house a brunette personality.” Makes sense to me!

There’s no Old Hollywood story without Norma Jean herself, Marilyn Monroe. Over the course of her short life, Marilyn Monroe lived in over 40 homes, with dozens in the Los Angeles area. She occupied the Bel Air Hotel, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and many houses around West Hollywood and The Valley. 

Marilyn even spent a summer bunking with Harry Warner (yes, of the Warner Brothers Studios) in his Guest House at 1006 Rexford Drive in Beverly Hills. 

The seven bedroom house includes the famous guest house, plus a European garden, rock lagoon pool and spa, waterfalls, a tennis court, and is currently for sale. Any takers? I’d be glad to set up a showing!

After all that moving, Marilyn finally settled down and bought her first (and unfortunately, last) home in 1962 in Brentwood. Her body was found there later that year and her death is still shrouded in mystery, which is why she is thought to haunt the home today. The house was sold in 2012 for $5.1M, Marilyn’s ghost included.

Sure, you could take a Hollywood tour to see celebrity homes, or better yet, you could take a walk through Hollywood, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood! Imagine heading to lavish parties at the old mansions and apartment buildings you’ve seen here- Happy ghost hunting!

Frank Gehry's Fight For Sunset Boulevard

There is no more controversial site in Los Angeles right now than 8150 Sunset. The coveted spot on Sunset Boulevard is stuck in a battle the city has seen all too frequently - development vs. preservation. THE BUILDING IN QUESTION IS THE LYTTON/CHASE BANK with glass walls and a funky zigzag roof. Frank Gehry, however, is currently designing a modern development to replace the building, much to the chagrin of preservationists. Whether the bank will be booted for the new building, or if the two will find a way to coexist, is our LA architecture saga.

The proposed project, located at the intersection of Sunset and Crescent Heights Boulevard was approved in November. It features five buildings with two residential towers, a shopping center, and a central courtyard. Perhaps the most well-known living architect in the world, Gehry has lent his modern design to dozens of unique and controversial buildings all over Los Angeles, including the futuristic Walt Disney Concert Hall.

The historic Lytton Savings Bank, designed by architect Kurt Meyer in 1960, is a notable example of post-war bank architecture in Los Angeles. It currently serves as a Chase Bank branch but it was designed as the executive headquarters for Lytton Savings and Loan Association. Featuring Googie and New Formalism stylistic influences, its got style you can bank on (And yes, I know how corny that sounds but I am leaving it in because it popped into my head and made me laugh).

Recently, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to designate the Lytton Savings building a historic-cultural monument. Preservationists were overjoyed at the outcome. The decision last month may not necessarily save the building, but it does delay the potential demolition for another year. Now, there are three potential outcomes: destroy the building, relocate it, or build Gehry’s new structure around it.

Gehry, however, has already made his opinion known about the building. In an October letter to the LA City Council, he discussed the issues with working around the bank, writing:

 “We tried dozens of massing options for this project to arrive at the best solution. We looked at options using the bank building and without the bank building. I do not come to this recommendation lightly or without having done my homework, but I really do not believe that I can design a successful project while keeping the bank on the site.” 

Gehry goes on to explain his own experience watching his past designs meet the wrecking ball, and urges the city council not to get sentimental about the bank. When asked to protest on his buildings’ behalf, he explains, “I declined because it was clear to me that time had passed and the people behind the demolishing were interested in creating new buildings for a new generation of activities.”

The future for the Lytton Savings Bank is questionable but relocating it seems like the best compromise. This would allow the building’s architecture to remain intact while creating space for a new development and the opportunities that come along with it for people in the community. Structural engineers have quoted the cost of moving the building at $1 million, a relatively small fee for this industry.

Of course there is the question of where to move it, but there are many likely empty sites that would welcome a building of such architectural significance and integrity. The surrounding Sunset area is already filled with strip malls and fast food restaurants, so a stylish new housing and retail development would be a welcome change for the neighborhood. While we as a community should certainly do our best to preserve historic buildings, we also must do what is best for us in this day and age.

This presents an interesting question. “Should we be concerned about demolishing significant or historic buildings if the present community requires something bigger or better, OR is there a middle ground that allows for historic preservation within the scope of new construction? Perhaps the current restoration and repurposing of the Herald Examiner building, designed by famed architect Julia Morgan, will pave the way for mutual consensus on projects of this sort in the future.

What is YOUR opinion?

Share below!

Shop Mom & Pop This Christmas - Larchmont Village

Tell'em Jill sent you!!

It's holiday shopping season and you have so many options to choose from when it comes to places to shop. This article is a friendly guide to fun shopping in Larchmont Village. Go with a friend, make it a date. The places I suggest have salons and places to eat attached so your shopping can be a fun event instead of a stressed out chore. It's also nice to keep the holiday money in your community where it is more appreciated by family business owners rather than big department stores.

 

Pickett Fences is a well curated shop with a casual hip and slightly vintage style. Here you will find clothing for women and men, lingerie, pajamas, accessories, jewelry, books, candles, baby gifts, cards and unique items that you would never think to buy. Think cozy, cute + stylish - that's on everyone's Christmas list. (323) 467-2140

pickettfences.com

 

Their soaps and facial cremes are the best. You just can't find this kind of quality in very many places and they have everything you can think of. Seriously, even hard to find imports. You can find beauty products for hair, body, nails, cosmetics and even candles. They also have a full salon so you can treat yourself to a massage or go with a friend and get your nails done. Fred, Shanon and the helpful staff will answer any questions you have. (323) 461-0162

Diptyque has a one of a kind luxury style. Everything they sell is also a work of art. This year they have beautiful holiday candles, unique fragrances and skin and body balms. This is the 1st store in U.S. which insures this as a unique treasure. The lovely manager Isabel Mayfield will treat you like a queen. (646) 560-1820

Village Heights has many great accessories and useful items. Men's watches, those new great swell bottles etc. But this Solar Queen Elizabeth figure is my favorite.

To celebrate Her Majesty’s reign, designer Chris Collicott created this commemorative Solar Queen. Just place her in a bright spot and watch her wave with a subtle twist of the wrist. The solar panel on her handbag is her power supply. The Queen also available in a limited 90th birthday edition. Plus the solar corgi, as well as the solar Pope, Napolean and Einstein. For the person who has everything. This store has something for everyone on your list and proprietor Lewis is always friendly, fun and helpful.

VillageHeights.com

 

Wine ALWAYS appreciated as a gift. Larchmont Wine & Cheese has an excellent selection from all over the world they say they have an admitted bias towards the great wines of France, Italy and the United States, we also carry selections we love from Spain, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Slovenia and Hungary. Select beer and spirits also available. Their gift baskets are the perfect gift for the connoisseur on your list. Ask for Simon or Sergio for wine selections.

This shop also has my favorite baguette in the city. They lots of great cheese and do yourself a favor and get one of their sandwiches. People come from all over for these!!! (323) 856-8699

larchmontvillagewine.com

Happy shopping and Happy Holidays.

How to stay cool this summer

LA is a great place to spend the summer, except when it gets so hot all you want to do is run around naked and sit in an ice bath. Luckily, there are more than a few ways to stay cool, both indoors and outdoors this summer. Here are some ideas you may not have heard of.

Grab a scoop

You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream! But we’re not talking about your typical chocolate and vanilla flavors. LA’s newest - and coolest - frozen treat spot is Magpie’s Softserve in Silver Lake. They make their soft serve mix and toppings in-house, and their flavors change daily. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to try a limited summer treat, like Sweet Corn and Honey or Strawberry Rhubarb.

 

Take a Swim

If you don’t have a pool at your house or apartment this summer, there’s still a few places you can take a dip. One of the best swimming pools in LA is The Annenberg Beach House, just up the PCH from the Santa Monica Pier. With spectacular views, playground, gallery, Marion Davies Guest House, community/cultural events, historic pool, free Wi-Fi and more- there's something for everyone to enjoy! Three times this summer they offer Sunset Swim for adults, with fun activities and complimentary fruit bars.

 

Hit up a Pool Party

You don’t even have to get in the pool to enjoy the epic pool parties at Skybar at The Mondrian Hotel. This Sunset Strip hot spot has poolside day parties, “Dive In” movies, and concerts all summer long. You can also get creative with their “Creative Hour,”a weekly event with programs from local artisans such as Succulent 101 from Rolling Greens Nursery to Mixology from Cocktail Academy. Skybar is a place to see and be seen, so grab your trendiest bathing suit and head to the pool for a cocktail and tunes.

 

Just bowl with it

When the heat gets to be too much, look for the air conditioning. LA’s newest oldest bowling alley, Highland Park Bowl, just reopened earlier this summer. Established in 1927, it was recently lovingly refurbished to the tune of $2 million, and it’s positively gorgeous. Adults only after 8 pm, this stunning piece of LA history offers amazing signature cocktails and wood-fired pizza. Even if you don’t like to bowl, it’s worth a trip for the decor alone.

 

Go local

Farmers Markets will never be the same once you visit the famed Larchmont Market, everySunday from 10am to 2pm. Casablanca lilies, Bonsai trees, organic Asian vegetables and homemade apple pies are among the treats for sale- Your Sunday mornings will never be quite the same! While it’s open year round, there’s nothing like the Southern California summer bounty. Pick up ingredients for a Sunday dinner alfresco or just enjoy the sunshine as you sample fruits and tempt your senses.

Mid-Century Modern Cat Houses

Bonus! Read to the end of the article for a special surprise gift for our readers!

Meet Tom Davies whom I had the pleasure to meet and discuss his fabulous feline houses. When Tom Davies of Davies Décor realized his cat needed its own place to hang out, he was unable to find an option he liked at pet stores or online. So, Davies took it upon himself to design a custom bed for his cat that was comfortable, practical, and stylish. Now, Davies Décor manufactures a variety of designed Mid-Century Modern Cat Houses. We sat down with Davies to learn more.

 

What inspired you to create these houses?

When we brought our cat home, we quickly realized that he loves to get into small spaces. Every time we came home from shopping we would leave the shopping bags and boxes on the floor for him to curl up in. Before long the house was a cluttered mess. 

I wanted the cat to have a place to chill out, but I also wanted it to be something more pleasing to the eye than a bag or box. So, I designed the Post and Beam Cat House, the Googie Cat Bed and the Oscar Cat Rest, comfy spots for the cat to chill out that are also uniquely designed modern pieces of furniture. 

The designs combine three big interests of mine: mid­century design/architecture, woodworking, and cats. 

 

What would be the dream cat architectural style that you would like to build? 

I get a lot of suggestions from people about what architectural style to base my next design on including Victorian, Craftsman, and Tudor. But I think it would be cool to try to make something resembling Frank Gehry's great design of Disney Hall in Downtown LA. 

 

Do you offer custom homes?

I am now moving into the world of designing custom cat furniture specifically designed to suit my clients' individual styles. 

Where can people find you next? 

As you know, I recently showed my products at CatConLA and the Hauspanther Style Lounge at the BlogPaws conference in Phoenix. My work will be featured in the upcoming Fall/Winter issue of Modern Cat magazine. 

What sets your cat homes apart?

Inspired by architectural styles popular in the mid­-Twentieth century, these beds are 100% handmade by me, the designer, and offer a level of craftsmanship you won't find in other cat enclosures. 

_________________

After meeting Tom and seeing his work I decided to partner with him. Now, when we stage your home for sale, if it strikes your fancy, you can have one of these posh and whimsical cat post & beam homes in your home. To me, it strikes just the right chord of fun while still maintaining a well-designed environment and I may even wear my cat ears! If you’re looking for a unique piece for your home to be enjoyed by your family and feline, check out Davies Décor

 

Bonus! If you leave a comment on this article you will be entered into a drawing for this fun Japan Movt cat watch!

Here is a video of Tom making his cat dream homes!

Here are some other great people doing fun things for cats.



Leave a comment below for a chance to win the watch! Oh, and comments need to be actual comments. "Nice article" and "fun" aren't going to get you entered in the drawing. K, bye.

So You Think You Want To Flip A House

Ever since the market crashed in 2008, buying homes to flip and sell for a profit has increased in demand. Investors and entrepreneurs alike are taking advantage of the opportunity to flip homes for a profit. Flipping homes is a great way to make a large profit in a small window of time. 

 

What is House Flipping?

House flipping is the process of buying a home in need of repairs, doing renovations and upgrades to the property and selling it for a profit. The homebuyer is typically a real estate investor with the intention of flipping and selling the property. 

 

Can Anyone Flip Houses?

Not everyone can flip houses and make a profit. It takes someone who has access to financing, a strong business acumen and thorough real estate knowledge to successfully flip houses. Renovating and flipping houses is a time-consuming endeavor that takes money and real estate savvy to do well.

However, anyone can get into the house flipping business. You do not need to have a business degree or a real estate license to successfully flip houses. Understanding the real estate market and doing thorough research will definitely help! A good network of real estate professionals and access to financing can make your flipping goals a reality. 

 

Finding Good Investments

Finding the right property for a house flip needs to be done with precision. First, get a real estate agent who knows the current inventory, market trends, unlisted properties. They will walk you through the process of identifying the property with the most upside. Not every home that needs repairs is worth the investment. Go look at homes with your agent and estimate the amount of work needed, the amount of time it will take to complete everything and how much it will sell for. Don’t forget to factor in closing costs and agent commissions in your calculations. 

You can tell a good investment from a bad one by the extent of the repairs it needs and the strength of the real estate market in that area. Do some research before making an offer on a house and leave yourself a cushion for unexpected repairs and expenses. 

 

Home Improvements That Yield a Strong Return on Your Investment

Most people believe that every home repair increases the value of a house. This is not true. Maintenance repairs such as replacing a roof or fixing the foundation do not increase the value of a property. These repairs are necessary to keep the value of the house from decreasing. 

Home improvements that yield return on an investment are renovating kitchens and bathrooms. Homebuyers like to see these areas of the home upgraded are critical in getting top dollar. New flooring and carpeting also make a big impact on buyers. Always paint every wall in a home in neutral tones for a fresh and clean look. Painting is an inexpensive repair that really helps sell a home. And don't forget landscaping! The front yard is the 1st impression. Curb appeal gets buyers in the door.

 

Prime Los Angeles Areas for House Flipping

This year Los Angeles ranked seventh in the nation for house flipping activity. In fact, according to Redfin, three neighborhoods in LA were listed in the top ten hottest flipping neighborhoods. 

The national average for a flipping profit per house is $102,400 and the following three LA neighborhoods well surpassed that number:

Mt. Washington: $312,000 (on average)
Silver Lake: $307,000 (on average)
Loz Feliz $241,000 (on average)

These are the prime areas in LA to flip a house today. Furthermore, Los Angeles in general yields a higher profit than the national average.

 

Time for my shameless plug!

Time for my shameless plug!

Using a Real Estate Agent During House Flips

There are many benefits to using a real estate agent throughout the house flipping process. They will save you time, money and headaches. They have the professional expertise to help you negotiate a lower price when buying and yield a higher price when selling. They can provide you with comparable properties in the area so you know what your competition is. They've seen successful flips and really bad flops. They can provide useful advice on how to maximize your investment. 

Questions to Ask Your Realtor:

What are some comparable upgraded homes in this area?
What is the average length of time on the market for a house in this area?
What demographics of homebuyers can afford houses in this neighborhood?

Some other real estate professionals to build a network with:

Home Inspectors
Home Appraisers
General Contractors
Mortgage Brokers

5 Things to Do With Your Dad on Father’s Day

Dad's been working hard all year for his family. He has been giving you great advice, letting you keep your stuff in his garage, helping you fix your broken everything. This year, give him what he really wants: quality time spent with his family. Check out the events below for some fun ways to spend your Father’s Day!

 

Pasadena Chalk Festival 

This annual event happens each year on Father’s Day weekend, but if you haven’t been, it is well worth your time. Head on down with your dad to Paseo Colorado on Saturday and Sunday for live music and entertainment, beautiful chalk art, and an area for kids to create artwork for their dads. Find more info at http://www.pasadenachalkfestival.com/.  

 

Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance

Is your dad a car enthusiast? If so, he would probably love the chance to spend time reveling in the beauties at the annual Rodeo Drive car show. This Beverly Hills Father’s Day tradition is sure to delight your dad this weekend with its mix of classic cars and new releases. Check it out from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sunday in the heart of Beverly Hills. 

 

The Larchmont Sanctuary Spa

If your dad is overworked and overstressed, he might want a bit of time to relax. Send him to the Larchmont Sanctuary Spa for a special Father’s Day spa package that pairs massage and relaxation with a cold beer. Take him out to dinner after at the unique République in Hancock Park to make this Father’s Day one to remember. 

 

Brunch at The Langham

For the food connoisseur dad in your life, consider taking him to the exquisite Langham hotel in Pasadena. The Langham has special Father’s Day dining events including a Whiskey & Cigar Brunch, a Dim Sum Brunch, or a Daddy & Me Chocolate Afternoon Tea. One of these three experiences is sure to delight his palate. Click here for website and details.

 

The Dodgers vs. the Brewers

Take dad out to the ballgame this Father’s Day and watch the Dodgers (hopefully) trounce the Milwaukee Brewers in the last of a 4 game series. The game starts at 1:10 in the afternoon, so you will have plenty of time to enjoy popcorn, hotdogs, and quality time with your dad. 

Taking Dad to one of these events will really let him know how much you appreciate him and love to spend time with him. Happy Father’s Day!