Builder Rethinking Dubious Lot?

By Dave Fratello | March 24th, 2007
If you drive into or out of town via Highland Ave., you are probably familiar with one of Manhattan Beach's worst developable lots.

At the corner of Highland and 45th, on the southwest corner, sits a trapezoidal postage stamp. (Described by one source as 28 x 45, 1280 sq. ft.) The current construction under way there has prompted a few snickers from MBC, and we just know we're not alone.

The problem begins with location, but just saying that doesn't convey the extent of the problem. The lot, 4419 Highland Ave., is six feet from Highland, one of our busiest and most clogged roadways at rush hour, with a view to the south of a gas station, and to the east of the refinery tank farm and massive power lines from the generation plant nearby. (To see those, you'll have to look over the traffic whizzing by, or chugging by in idle, depending on the hour.)

To be fair, to the south and the west you also have an ocean view. You will see ocean behind the gas station and the power line towers down there.

The house previously located there was a forlorn blue shack smaller than some refrigerators in our neighborhood. The lot went up for sale in Feb. 2005 via a handwritten sign on the garage. By Aug. '05, it had sold for $730k.

For almost 18 months, the original house sat there, untouched. Evidently, a lot of planning was under way.

Construction began in February 2007. At this writing you'll find a concrete foundation and two giant iron girders sticking straight up. (Are they swaying in the breeze, or is that an illusion?) You have to wonder what is being built, and for whom.

Wonder no more! All the gory details are here, on a website built just to tout this glorious beach-home-to-be. Would you believe this is slated to be 1900 sq. ft.? (Note the projected sale price: $1.650m.)

Maybe you're bullish on this project. Maybe you love the location ("steps to beach!"). Maybe, having examined the detailed blueprints available on the website, you are wowed by the vision and imagination shown for this house, and you must have it.

If so, a craigslist opportunity has presented itself:
Manhattan Beach - Great Deal 200K in Equity

Reply to:
Date: 2007-03-27, 9:07PM PDT

Wholesale price for Builders, Investors or early bird buyers ...This home is
under construction. Plans are approved, contract with contractor is in place,
foundation should be complete soon.

Price for Land, Survey, Plan check fees, Permits, Approved Design,
Demolition, Grading, Utility hook-up, Retaining walls and foudation is

The balance of the construction contract is $309,980.

$1,399,500 to complete. Comps are in the $1.6 million to $1.7 million range.

View comps and plans at

3 BD
3.5 Baths
over 1900 square feet
ocean view
walk to the beach(1 1/2 blocks)
Does this seem strange to you at all?

The ad touts $200k in "equity" being offered up in the deal. But that's hardly "equity," it's speculation. Well, who's complaining?

First question: Is this builder bailing? You've come this far, and you're going to sell midway for the meager profit of $370k?

Second question: Is there a fool with money to bail out the builder?

Third question: Is there really a buyer for this house at $1.6m-$1.9m?

Fourth question, actually the first question: Was this really such a good idea?!?

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