The Wreck Next Door

Posted by Dave Fratello on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008 at 5:37am.

As new construction has churned through Manhattan Beach, one small, dilapidated cottage after another has been scraped and replaced with Tuscan villas and the like.

Problem: Some of those dilapidated cottages, and other worn-out old buildings, haven't been torn down yet. In fact, they surround, and detract from, some of the pricier new homes currently on the market.

(As always, click any highlighted address for home details via Redfin.)

CASE STUDY #1: 757 30th St.

Over on 30th St., a quiet side street just off of storied 31st, a new "Spanish Mediterranean charmer" (listing) sprouted over the last 2 years. It's nice, but two neighbors are not.

Just to the east of the property line lies this beaten-up garage with rusted-out accessories. Truly, we don't think that forklift has moved in 5 years. It always seems to be there. Buy 757 30th St., and you could see it every night as you park at your $2.7-million-dollar home.

A double-whammy – the home just to the north, with an address on 31st, is pretty shabby, too. Second-floor bedrooms of the new home, including the master, look out at the neighboring homes – and they look back – and frankly it's all a bummer.

Now, if you take the long view, you have to know that, some day, your neighbor on 30th will be a spankin' new Cape Cod, sans forklift, and some day your view from the master will be of a gorgeous Caliterranean. That could be just a few years – and lots of construction noise – in your future. For now, $2.7m doesn't buy you great neighbors.


CASE STUDY #2: 2100 Flournoy

Speaking of neighbors looking in on your master, the new home at 2100 Flournoy offers a similar view to that over at 757 30th.

Here, two homes off the back yard, to the east, look directly down at the master bedroom. They're on a slight incline up from 2100 Flournoy, so they've got a pretty good view.

But you don't. The blue home, off to the right, is just a bit dated, not a complete eyesore. And if you're ever wondering what they're up to in their back yard, you'll be able to check.

The yellow house, er, building, is some kind of stapled-together addition that must have been nicer when it was newer. Or not. Up close, it appears as if someone slapped siding on a kids' playhouse. Quickly.

Take Flournoy for $2.9 million or so, but be sure to save a bit of money for curtains to block out your views.


CASE STUDY #3: 644 33rd

There are a lot of things to recommend the large new home at 644 33rd.

At $3.25 million, you almost expect perfection, but prepare yourself, because yes, there are flaws. The back yard is small and weirdly L-shaped, not all the materials and finishes match stylistically and the master bath is shockingly cramped for a 4200 sq. ft. home.

The basement media room + bath + extra bedroom is a super feature, nicely executed. And that's great, because going downstairs is much better than going up the stairs. Going up, you see the tattered, mossy shingles of your neighbor's, achem, uniquely styled home. It's a downer, though you'll surely get used to it.

Also upstairs: the front-most bedroom features treetop views, and also, shall we say, a "refined" view – prominent on the horizon are pipes, smokestacks and other structures from the nearby Chevron refinery.

Gosh, we wish we didn't have to be reminded about the refinery.

Of course, almost all of these unsightly neighbors are destined to vanish. Our kids will never know an MB with 900-sq.-ft. homes, heavy machinery parked in clear view – heck, in a low-carbon economy, we might some day ditch the refinery, or replace it with a hydrogen plant.

If you take the long view, you'll see right past what you get for about $3m these days.
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