Great Streets: The Strand, Part I

By Dave Fratello | March 13th, 2008
The Strand is a 2-mile-long playground. It's hardly a street, since there are no cars – just walkers, joggers, baby strollers and dogs. And the occasional party spillover, toddler meanderings and games of dominoes.

Still, The Strand is a Great Street, and a distinguishing feature of MB. It's both very public and very exclusive. Anyone can visit, but only the elite few can buy in.

It's a bit funny now to imagine that when Manhattan Beach was first founded, living on The Strand could be a hassle. The big problem: Blowing sand. It would bury yards, patios and the wooden boardwalk, piling up on windowsills and rooftops. And there were the beachfront train tracks (where the bike path is now) plus electrical poles ruining the sight lines.

Our ancestors gradually got a grip on these problems, moving the dunes around, ditching the train tracks and paving the wooden boardwalk. That work helped make beachfront living on our white-sand beach the multi-million-dollar ticket that it is today.

For this first story, we're looking at some homes on the southern half of The Strand (south of 20th). We're offering snapshots of some of our favorites in the area. Note that these are smallish thumbnails, but clicking any pic will enlarge it.

Our first photo above is of one of the oldest homes on The Strand, circa 1902, according to one history. (Jan Dennis' Manhattan Beach, California, via the MB Historical Society.) It's been remodeled a few times, but always in keeping with a classic beach-cottage feel. Located at 8th/The Strand.

Further south (at 4th), the natural-wood look and classic styling of this home combine wonderfully with naturalistic landscaping. This may be the most unpretentious and beautiful of Strand homes. (And please, don't the rest of you go slipping notes under the door asking to buy it, whenever they're willing – we're sure ours is first in line already. Right?)

Marking a transition is our third pic, a newer home that somehow draws together a beach-cottage feel with its wood shingles, a modernist feel with concrete and sharp angles and a boating feel with porthole windows and the overall design. It's impossible that this design works as well as it does.

There are several sharp, crisp contemporaries along The Strand, particularly in the southern half. One concrete-and-glass modern home at 1212 The Strand (4br/5ba, 4600 sq. ft.) sold for $10.7m last year, reportedly the highest price ever paid on The Strand.

A slightly larger home on a corner lot further south at 120 The Strand (pictured) was offered at around $10m in 2005, and eventually sold for $8.8m in January 2006.

Our final pic (below) is of the northernmost home of this set, at 19th St. We can't name the style, per se, but we love it. It's simple, crisp, modern and great.

Researching this one, we believe we learned something new.

The nondescript building to the immediate south of this home appears to have been joined with the main house quite recently. At a price nearing 3-4 times that of the original home on the corner lot.

So there's a goal: First, buy on The Strand and build a wonderful home. Then, if it's just not enough, buy out the neighbor and build an annex. You can't leave The Strand once you've landed there!

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