Big, Beautiful, Too Much?

By Dave Fratello | July 24th, 2009
In case you haven't whizzed by recently to see for yourself, it's news that they're almost finished building the new home at 212 The Strand.

This is the famous, or infamous, three-lot merger on which construction began nearly 18 months ago after plenty of wrangling and preliminaries.

The project was almost dragged down by the ongoing "mansionization" debate. But the very day after the owner got the green light from the city to proceed, back in early 2008, the bulldozers busted loose, and the long birthing process began.

What we see now is a giant, beautiful new home with plenty of beach character. Plans called for 6br/11ba and 16,000 sq. ft., including nanny's quarters and guest spaces. And yes, that's big.

Still, you'd be forgiven for thinking that, in person, the home looks like a smallish, 5-star hotel. Somehow, the near-final product does not dominate or overwhelm in the ways we might have feared. Count us as pleasantly surprised.

We'll note that the regional fish-wrapper ran a story in early 2008 sampling all sorts of negative sentiments. The prospect of this new home had "struck fear into the hearts of neighbors," by the estimation of the writer. One neighbor said simply, "Three lots is way too much."

Is it?

The L-shaped home, tucked mostly to the rear, leaves a lot more open space near The Strand, where locals and neighbors might care most about an imposing mega-structure. Surely, a row of 3 separate max-out-the-lot homes in the same space would create a firmer façade.

Is the space along the walkstreet a "large yard," as promised in a 2007 description of the project in the Easy Reader? We'll call that a stretch. Most Strand homes have zero yard; we'll grant you that. But a narrow 1/8th to 1/6th strip along the walkstreet hardly qualifies as a big chunk of "open space."

We should take note of the dollars involved here. We truly do not have firm data, but it appears that the 3 lots were acquired for $15m or so dating back to 2001. The LA Times estimated the value of the land last year at $29m. We hear tell of the construction costs hitting $15m+.

The southernmost part of the South End Strand keeps remaking itself. There's one terrific home on the north side of 3rd, about 5 years old now.

Moving south, you have the triple lot in this story, then 208 and 204 The Strand, sold to the same buyers for a double-lot conversion at the end of March this year for $12.8m combined. (That was $6.7m for 208 and $6.1m for 204. The latter was intended as a non-public price, but the county assessor published it anyway – whoops!)

Finally, at 200 The Strand there's a lot purchased for $5.5m in Sept. 2004 and now at advanced stages of construction for a new home.

The parts of the Strand furthest south are helping to redefine MB, but none so boldly as 212 The Strand. Can we handle the size with the sizzle?

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