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The Dirt on the Persian Palace

Posted by John Hathorn on December 13, 2016
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Photo credit:  The

Do you find the term or words Persian Palace offensive? I’ve been selling real estate for almost 30 years and can assure that none of the Iranian friends, clients and real estate agents that I know personally have any problem with the term. The real estate website Curbed recently ran a piece (rather lengthy but an interesting read, as one of my clients put it) called Learning to Love the Persian Palace. I agree, it is worth reading.

Some think that the anti-mansionization rules that are being implemented throughout various cities are a result of Persian Palace type development. I disagree – more on that later.

Of course the term Persian Palace has not always been used fondly – but it is often used accurately. Properties (over) built with grand entrances and sometime too much of a good thing- like marble everywhere, lots of decorative (non-load bearing) columns, extensive ornament and less than a traditional “North American” sense of scale. Quoting an LA Times piece from a few years ago; “No other coinage so immediately evinces dismissal and revulsion. It is the ultimate form of ‘mansionization’, taking a small lot and building the largest- possible box on it,” according to Greg Goldin’s Los Angeles Times article In Defense of the Persian Palace.

Beverly Hills is home to where the style originated, a town known for flash, so what better way to show off cash than on your home- and proudly! The City, however, banned the style from development back in 2004 noting it “affects the desirability of the neighborhood.”

However, those that settled here from Iran proudly built their homes to replicate the original architecture they so fondly love; open floor plans, lots of sunlight, almost “hotel-like.” The idea “the more the better” with lots of room for family. “Persian architecture, like carpet weaving and the poetry of Rumi, was an effort to partake of the sublime… a celebration of beauty in its own right, and in that way a direct appeal to the senses.” These Palaces are not intended to show off to their neighbor but to celebrate their cultural flare and praised architectural heritage and history.  A place that is both euphoric and inviting for all their guests and themselves.

Many native Angelinos also like to think that their home is in keeping with the nature of SoCal and that somehow our style of home, whether Craftsman, Spanish, Traditional or Modern, embraces the original early Spanish and Mexican influences. But that is not quite true. L.A., like most modern cities is more of a façade. Especially in light of the fact that all these 100+ year old homes are being replaced to accommodate larger families with larger amounts of money to spend. If a home is not original to the early development, these days most new homes are almost like a movie set.

As far as the Palace being blamed for the anti-mansionization rules, that is a stretch. Certainly the tendency to max out the lot and to make floor-plans more open – for entertaining, has caught on with owners and developers, and one could argue that the Persian Palace paved the way, but I think it would have happened regardless. Families got bigger, traffic got worse, people stay home and want to be comfortable. I can point to large numbers of homes of every style being built on lots that traditionally had smaller homes on them. With how expensive it is to buy a home, only fairly wealthy people can afford to do so, and if you have the money, and your “happy place” is in a larger-than-life home, why not have one?

I am not saying ignore the local rules and regulations like Mr. Mohamed Hadid (Gigi’s dad) has done in Bel Air. I am saying it makes sense in some cases to build the biggest home that the city will allow and if one can do so without bothering too many neighbors – do it.

We can’t legislate taste and aesthetics. The Persian Palace style home is not going away anytime soon but with a more diverse group of developers on the scene, including local (super hot) architect Ken Ungar, East Coast Traditional style homes are far more ubiquitous construction sites right now than the Persian styles.

Now, onto some real estate market information. As one might expect, there are no new listings in the flats of Santa Monica right now.

The 2 that have sold in the past 2 weeks both had larger than average lot sizes:

2020 San Vicente Boulevard – Tuscan style on an 11,000 square foot lot.  5 bedrooms, 6 baths. The list price is $5,595,000.  Remodeled kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances, expansive sun-drenched family room.  Makes my 215 21st Place listing   look like the steal that it is at $4.7 million

624 Marguerita Avenue4 bedrooms, 4 baths.  $5,390,800. Oversized lot of 12,700 square feet.  Great location on renowned Marguerita Avenue.  Interesting development opportunity. J Charles has designed plans for a new 8,000 square foot house on this lot.  Last sold in January 2011 for $2,400,000.

Closed sales in the last week

234 Marguerita AvenueClosed sale. 4 bedrooms, 4 baths. $5,480,000- look for a new home to go up on this site over the next 18 months.

327 18th Street –  Closed sale. 3 bedrooms, 3 baths.  Sold price is $3,580,000. I represented the Buyers for this home and they are thrilled that they prevailed over multiple competing bids!

Call me for a couple of upcoming attractions that are not yet listed in the MLS, priced from $1.9 million to $8 million.  And….here are a few that we have listed in the MLS:

1024 Palisades Beach Road – 5 bedrooms and 8 baths $9,250,000

323 Adelaide Drive – 4 bedrooms and 6 baths $6,895,000

920 Alta Avenue – 6 bedrooms and 6.5 baths $6,595,000

215 21st Place – 5 bedrooms and 4.5 baths  Price Upon Request

1012 2nd Street Unit# 2 – 3 bedrooms and 3.5 baths $3,488,000

1023 S. Bundy Drive – 2 bedrooms and 2.5 baths $2,049,000


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