Streets of gold: L.A.'s most desirable addresses
The Westside corridor from Beverly Hills to Malibu boasts one of the world's great concentrations of premier residential estates.
Call it A-List Los Angeles.
L.A. County has plenty of high-end neighborhoods, from Palos Verdes Estates to Pasadena. But when it comes to finding the best mansions in town, there's still nothing quite like the golden corridor from Beverly Hills to Malibu.
This Westside area boasts one of the world's great concentrations of premier residential estates. The highest-price home transaction ever in California took place in this territory: the 2000 sale of an 8-acre Bellagio Road estate in Bel-Air by Dole Food Co.'s billionaire owner, David Murdock, to financial executive Gary Winnick in a $95-million deal.
Bellagio is one of a dozen streets that are among the most sought-after addresses, say veteran real estate brokers. Here's a look at these streets and why they are so coveted.
* Mapleton Drive, Holmby Hills. Home to the Playboy Mansion, Mapleton gets rave reviews for the quality and size of its properties, some of which back up to the fairways of the Los Angeles Country Club.
Arthur Letts Jr., who owned Broadway and Bullock's department stores, was instrumental in developing Holmby Hills in the 1920s. Letts picked Mapleton to be the best street and the site of his own residence, according to Jeffrey Hyland, president of Beverly Hills-based brokerage Hilton & Hyland and author of "The Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills."
Today the Letts estate is the home and famed party site of Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner. The street has what Hyland called "a perceived value."
"A buyer feels more comfortable where everything around is already established and well in the double digits," he said -- double-digit millions, that is.
* North Carolwood Drive, Holmby Hills. Just around the corner from Mapleton, North Carolwood has been the address of a stream of stars including Tony Curtis and Sonny and Cher. Gregory Peck's longtime home was sold in 2004 for about $22 million. Michael Jackson rented on the drive at the time of his death.
At 2 to 4 acres, these are some of the biggest parcels on the Westside. Like other premiere streets, North Carolwood has a uniformity of prices, homes and lot sizes that well-heeled buyers like. "If you just bought your home for $20 million and you see other homes that look like your $20-million investment, you feel good" about your neighborhood, said Drew Mandile of Sotheby's International Realty, Beverly Hills.
* Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu: OK, so it's a highway, not a street. But this busy thoroughfare is the street address for a cluster of homes along Carbon Beach owned by the likes of DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen, restaurateur and Hard Rock Cafe chain owner Peter Morton and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.
Called Billionaire's Beach, the line of oceanfront properties has protection from housing market changes because the owners never have to sell, said Stephen Shapiro, co-owner of Westside Estate Agency in Beverly Hills. "It's like a private club, but they don't have meetings."
* Malibu Colony Drive, Malibu. Gates, 24-hour security and views of the Pacific make the street desirable, said Joyce Rey, who heads the estates division of Coldwell Banker Previews International. "It's a pretty exclusive enclave," the Beverly Hills-based agent said.
But the lots and houses, once cottages used as weekend places, are smaller than properties along Carbon Beach, which has "big, magnificent homes," Hyland noted.
Of course, even the best streets have some drawbacks.
Pacific Coast Highway can become clogged with traffic; Mapleton -- with its Playboy Mansion -- is a regular stop on bus tours; and North Carolwood is a hot spot for sightseers.
The corners of Carolwood and Sunset and nearby Baroda Drive and Sunset have been staked out by three generations of the Hot Star Maps family since 1936.
Linda Welton, who has been selling the maps for 21 years, said she feels the Carolwood residents have come to accept and even appreciate her presence -- her mother and maternal grandfather having paved the way.
Michael Jackson's security people asked for one of her maps, then another, which they later returned with his autograph, she said.
These days Dr. Phil stops by to say hello.
"Once David Hasselhoff wanted to know how to get to David Beckham's house," she said.
Standing up straighter with a mock-stern expression, Welton recounted her response: "Are you expected?"
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times
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