Moderns Sweeping MB?

Posted by Dave Fratello on Tuesday, March 26th, 2013 at 9:41am.

Modern architecture in Manhattan Beach got a nice little plug in the LA Times recently, in a Saturday section feature about a privately commissioned new construction project.

"Cool, not cold," the headline proclaimed – thereby expressing the liability of the "modern" style (cold) and the hope people have for something clean, livable and great (cool) when approaching a home crafted in the style.

Devotees of moderns have had a good run of choices on the market here in MB recently.

Right in front of you every day here on MBC for a couple of weeks has been 700 27th St., a modern crafted by an architect for her family, offered at $2.250M (listed by Dave). Tonight we're ready to review offers, and we can report for now, at least, that the interest has been substantial – and greater than we might have expected for a home in modern style.

More than one person who is not offering on 700 27th has said this is a home they would buy in a flash if one or two things were different at this moment in life. (Mrs. MBC said something like that, too.)

And with many such comments comes an upbeat qualification: "I'm not into modern, but..."

It's a compliment to this specific house, but also an expression of how moderns lurk at the margins of the market.

Recently we saw a sale close at 532 6th (4br/4ba, 2750 sq. ft.) on a corner lot in the South End along Valley.

You may remember it, since the home has now traded 4 times since 2005, and was discussed here on MBC in 2007, 2008 and 2011.

This one is a home we have described as "surprisingly warm for a contemporary [that] made pretty good use of the limited footprint to make a good family home." It's situated on a trapezoidal lot on the corner with Valley and the 6th St. walkstreet. (Ooooh, walkstreets!)

The listing emerged late this January and sold at 4 DOM.

Its sale prices over the years:

  • March 2005: $1.818M
  • Oct. 2008: $1.820M [sellers had shot for $2.7M in '07]
  • July 2011: $1.935M
  • March 15, 2013: $2.275M

You can't see much about the latest listing online now, because the sellers made the curious choice to block internet distribution of the listing info. (Boo!)

Heading back over to the Tree Section, there was another modern in addition to 700 27th that hit the market recently, and it's in escrow.

That's 1708 Elm (4br/3ba, 3100 sq. ft.), a newer (2003) modern that's called a "Sophisticated Showpiece w/ A Warm Casual Vibe" in the listing description.

It features a huge, open great room on the first floor, with polished limestone floors and a super-sharp kitchen.

There are warm cherry wood floors in other rooms to liven up the feel of the home. The building was designed to give most every room lots of light coming in from big windows in more than one direction.

This one listed at $2.100M and made a quick deal.

Maybe one of the shockers of 2013 so far – we're going to have to make a list, because there are a few already – is that 217 9th finally has a deal.

This little half-lot home (3br/4ba, 1735 sq. ft.) right in the thick of downtown first sold – improbably – in Sept. 2007 for $3.000M. That's $1,730/PSF, for those of you keeping score at home.

It was offered back at $2.950M for 6 months last year, but to say it had no prayer at that price seems to really diminish the power of prayer.

217 9th came back this year with a local agent and still looked ambitious at $2.5M.

After a cut to $2.390M, they've now posted a deal.

If it comes in near that number, it's still well over $1,300/PSF. And for that home, which has some tight squeezes and unusual uses of space.

You missed all of those?

There's a new option (re-)emerging 505 N. Valley (4br/4ba, 2200 sq. ft.) in the South End.

This is a custom-designed, "green" build completed in 2006 and sold in Aug. 2007 by the folks who had built it for themselves for $2.175M. 'Twould appear that the owners foresaw a shift in the winds right around then, and got out while the getting was good.

We said 505 N. Valley was "re-emerging" now because this one ran 3 months on the market last year.

Then: $2.0M asking. No deal.

Now: $2.0M asking. And we'll see.

This is a cool home with a nice bonus: The great room up top and in back, which faces west, doesn't really have a neighbor to worry about that might block the views. A little half-lot home along the 5th St. walkstreet in back, 533 5th, is "landlocked" – no garage or street access – so you can't build new on that site. The half-lot cottage traded last year for $725K and will just have to stay as is unless and until it gets merged to the lot behind it, which does have garage/alley access.

UPDATE: A few folks have written to suggest that the building prospects at 533 5th are not as restricted as we state here. Buyers please investigate.

The story of last year's listings coming back this year and selling is one we keep writing here, and this year 505 N. Valley simply won't be a surprise if it joins that gallery.

The only hitch to last year's listing was the lack of public open houses, so you needed an agent to see it. Besides that, 3 months of exposure just didn't work. But that was then.

Is there really a trend toward moderns in MB? Maybe not. We may just be focused here on what's right in front of us each day.

But this sweep of new listings and sales does feel like it may represent new vigor for a style that is too often dismissed or disregarded in favor of more mainstream tastes.

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UPDATE: Another new listing up on the Plateau has some modern/contemporary inspiration: 449 34th St. at $1.899M.

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