Weekend Opens (9/8-9/9)

Posted by Dave Fratello on Saturday, September 8th, 2012 at 2:01pm.

It's amazing to say, but out of 6 new listings we're able to review for you this week, 4 are priced under $1m.

Not that they'll all sell for under $1m – let's see what the market has to say about each one. But that's extraordinary for MB.

Also extraordinary... 1402 Manhattan Ave.

This seems like one of our occasional "you gotta see this" new listings. A slick, modern beauty, packed with careful details, near downtown. (Bring $2.8m if you want to stay.)

To plan your weekend tours, try this Redfin map list of open houses – sort by price or sub-region of MB by clicking the title on a column.

Or click here for the new-format Beach Reporter list of opens.

If you're thinking about getting into the market as a buyer or seller, please consider asking MB Confidential author Dave Fratello for help. For more, see MBC's Need an Agent?" page.


Sand Section

1402 Manhattan Ave.
1402 Manhattan Ave. (3br/4ba, 2400 sq. ft.) is a new, modern TH in the thick of downtown that launches with a Strand-like PPSF: $1,166/PSF to begin. 

It's the rear unit of the 2 you see pictured here; the front is taken (by the designer/developer).

The home is all high-style, spare and modern, with layer upon layer of extra detail added in. The tiles used in flooring are special, imported, the kitchen countertop is a unique blue-tinged stone, woods used in cabinetry and accents are sharp, and the use of floor-to-ceiling doors you'll see requires precision craftsmanship.

In short, they didn't do anything the easy way.

The 3br layout isn't quite as expected – there is a little undefined space on the lowest level where you might expect a bedroom; they say this could be a media room, gym or who knows. The 3br are together on the midlevel with a bonus landing in back and up a couple of steps – a good candidate for a sunny office (sunny, you said it – it's got a wall of glass facing south) with some views.

1402 Manhattan Ave. starts at a ceiling-pushing price for a TH anywhere in town, $2.799m. This being 2012, we're not going to bet against anyone or any price, but that's really up there.

For comparison's sake, slightly larger 2305 Bayview (4br/4ba, 2600 sq. ft.) got $2.3m this year – a tough comparison, given the original building's age (2005) and lesser exterior, but 2305 Bayview had all the potential 1402 Manhattan does but was fully fleshed out and gorgeously decorated. (You can see our raves from April, including the phrase, "shocking fabulousness.")

112 Manhattan Ave.
There are 2 examples of new construction along Manhattan Ave. in the South End, each of which was in a modern style, had comparable square footage and sold recently for $2.250m (both). Those were 104 Manhattan Ave. and 112 Manhattan Ave.  (pictured); both had superior ocean views.

And quite near 1402 Manhattan, you've got 1310 Manhattan Ave., a slightly smaller modern TH built in 2009, sold for $2.270m in April this year and now back on offer at $2.599m. (There's a story behind that.)

Interestingly, we do see a comparably sized TH that sold off-market last year for much more than both of these – 205 27th (3bd/3ba, 2875 sq. ft.) going for $3.125m. So miracles happen.

1402 Manhattan Ave. starts at $2.799m and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

If 1402 Manhattan has location and some ocean going for it, what 316 45th (3br/4ba, 2320 sq. ft.) has is ocean, ocean, ocean – if not, so much, location.

There are few higher points in MB with more unobstructed panoramas than this TH on the furthest edge of town. The master gets very good views but the top floor... wow, oh wow. The whole of Santa Monica Bay.

The TH was developed in 2006 and sold in Feb. 2007 for $1.999m. Whoops, that was the end of the bubble. Even in today's recovering market, this one is a short sale with a start price of $1.5m.

The 3-level TH has a familiar layout, with one bed/bath suite and laundry on the lowest floor. Midfloor bedrooms are of good size; both get some views. This unusually shaped lot widens as it approaches 45th from Gull, giving you somewhat more space to spread out on – perhaps 500 sq. ft. or so more than would be normal. You feel the extra space upstairs.

All of the original – 5 year old – materials are terrific and reflect 21st century tastes. The reddish cherry wood floors and cabinetry are always a warm choice, a nice balance against the more sleek, modern appliances, tile and accents.

Views from that top floor, helped by the use of glass balcony railings/barriers, are the signature "wow" factor here. But location trades directly against that – this pocket east of Highland is pretty isolated, 45th is the northernmost street in MB, and not everyone wants to see the various industrial wonders of the area in their foreground view – massive tanks, power lines, ships offshore, a gas station.

And we'll quibble with the idea that you'll ever "[l]isten to the waves" (per the listing) from here, because Highland traffic generates somewhat constant noise of its own.

The 5-car parking is an essential bonus, since El Porto El Norte offers basically no parking.

316 45th starts (short) at $1.500m, and is open Sun. 1-4pm.


Sand Section

633 35th (2br/1ba, 800 sq. ft.) has to be viewed as a lot sale, because who can live in 800 sq. ft., right?

(Yes, we understand that many people in the world would be happy to have 800 sq. ft. of their own, even more so in MB, but we're just being realistic.)

Up and down this stretch of 35th St. you'll find modern houses taking advantage of the street-to-alley lots – this one being a touch over 5400 sq. ft.

Neighboring 641 35th (4br/4ba, 3750 sq. ft.), a refreshed 1997 build with that same size lot, sold in June for $1.910m.

The current little postwar cottage is cute, but difficult. Of course there's not much common space, the little alley kitchen is largely original, and the single bath could be roughly compared to a phone booth, if anyone could remember what a phone booth is.

So you have to look at the lot and location. The lot has a downslope, gentler in the front, it seems, than along the back half, where the dropoff is slightly steeper. The current backyard (on the north side) seems kind of shady; the downslope may exaggerate that concern.

Perhaps the worst part of the current buildout on this lot is that they ran a long driveway to the garage in back, when the alley access would have permitted a wider house and no driveway. Well, when they built this one, no one had ever seen color TV, so there were a lot of design and taste changes to come.

633 35th starts at $935k.

A low mark for the general area was hit with a lot sale almost exactly a year ago at 562 36th, a notably less-good location, at $815k. Lot sales around the Trees have been nearer and above $1m since, depending on location.

633 35th will draw immediate interest, so jump in there if you're chasing a lot like this.

Think it'll stay below $1m? The property will be open Sat. & Sun. 2-4pm.

552 Rosecrans (3br/2ba, 1220 sq. ft.) is a 1950s cottage that's been added onto and updated in spurts. It's certainly far above the standards of the original, if not quite up to 21st century standards in every regard.

The open kitchen is a nice change from the standard layout. It's got lots of storage and space to spread out, despite being stuck in a 1200 sq. ft. house.

Beds and baths have some nice upgrades and accents, like the paneling along the lower halves of hallways and in some rooms. The ceiling of the living room up front along Rosecrans shows off the original wood, stained, though we wondered if it was peeling or just uneven in our quick look. There's some grassy yard up front and a separate patio area behind the house.

Might make you say huh?!: The listing pics show an empty house and a boxer (dog), while in our tour the house was very much occupied and had 2 very small dogs instead.

Nearby neighbor 560 Rosecrans (3br/3ba, 1950 sq. ft.), a total gem of a remodel and a much larger house on a lot that's the same size as 552 Rosecrans (4050 sq. ft.), fetched $1.149m in July.

552 Rosecrans starts $150k lower, at $998k, and is open Sun. 1-3pm.


East MB

1709 Manzanita (4br/3ba, 2625 sq. ft.) is a very different, stylistically interesting "modern craftsman" remodel of an original, 1950s, typical Liberty Village cottage.

If you know the flow of the original cottages, you'll feel that in the layout of the formal living room up front and the 2 bedrooms just off to one side, also in front. It's just that a bunch of house got added on toward the back and up.

The living spaces toward the rear include a city-cool open kitchen with craftsman-cool cabinetry and slick concrete countertops.

The kitchen opens to a big half-circle of space with high ceilings that's set up now for formal dining; the balance of the family space is pushed toward the back. (How often do you get to read the word "curvilinear" in a property's listing description? Here you do. Fun.)

A curved, small deck and mostly hardscaped patio/yard are in back sharing space with the garage, tucked at the rear of the lot. "Yard?" Not so much.

Back inside, beyond the family room in back, you'll find what is called the 4th bedroom, but it's so far out of the flow that we'd see it put into service as many 4th bedrooms turn out to be – an office/playroom rather than a core sleeping space.

The master and adjoining loft/office space are upstairs. Master gets a curvy wall just like the dining space downstairs, and some nice treetop/rooftop views to the west/northwest from the curvilinear panel of windows. The walk-in closet is spacious and bath is quite attractive, not standard-issue at all.

On balance, an eye-opening house (in a good way) that makes pretty good use of much less than 3000 sq. ft. 

1709 Harkness starts at $1.4m and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

1813 Harkness (4br/2ba, 1700 sq. ft.) holds out so much promise – a 4br house on a big 6100+ sq. ft. corner lot, "upgraded." And then you see something peculiar and kind of plain.

The layout has the feel of 2 houses having merged. There's a 3br "wing" sharing a hallway bath, then more house toward the back, including what might be called the master. You might call it that, but it not only lacks an attached bath, but the most-upgraded bath, right outside this bedroom – complete with jacuzzi tub – also serves as the bath for the living areas. Do you mean to invite your dinner guests for a bubbly soak?

It's when you find elements like that that the phrase "piecemeal remodel" comes to mind.

With those caveats, the common space is quite large, including a very spacious and open, upgraded kitchen. Pretty much all of the common space is one giant great room, with space sprawling hither and thither. Seeing the house (mostly) vacant made it something of a challenge to figure out how areas might be defined – maybe it works. There's also bonus space out back, an extra room with a fireplace, built out off of the separate garage.

The smallish yard is sunny but neglected, and won't ever provide much of a play area, but it's something.

What 1813 Harkness really has going for it is a sub-$1m start price, and little competition.

1813 Harkness starts at $975k and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

1507 23rd
1507 23rd (3br/2ba, 2050 sq. ft.) made an immediate deal when listed last week, but came right back the next day. Still, take note of that quick action; an attractive remodel like this will find its market again soon, we'd bet.

This home is recognizable as a 60s original, but greatly remodeled, particularly the surprisingly large master suite. Only the kitchen seemed uneven, but in general this one is a modern-feeling house.

1507 23rd starts at $1.2m and is open Sun. 1-4pm.
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