Weekend Opens (2/11-2/12)

By Dave Fratello | February 11th, 2012
There's a little more new inventory to see this week, including a brand new home on dreamy lower 18th St. (128 18th), another new listing (though an older house) on dreamy 31st St. in the Trees, and another huge ocean-view option in the 300 block of the 30s.

First, let's take a quick moment for MB history. As you must have heard by now, this year is Manhattan Beach's 100-year anniversary. There are all sorts of Manhattan Beach Centennial events and commemorations happening and coming. You could learn a lot if you're not careful.

Somewhere along the way, we learned about yet another distinction MB has. As if our perfect climate, decent surf and awesome schools aren't enough.

That distinction is that Manhattan Beach is the original home of the Pinewood Derby.

If you were ever a boy, and/or you now have a boy, this is an especially fun fact about MB to digest.

Homemade vehicles rolling down a hill in races attended by hundreds – why does that sound familiar? Could it be the World Famous Pumpkin Races, also originated here in MB? Hey, what's with the local obsession with rolling things down inclines?

Turns out, way-back-when, a young scout who was ineligible for the Soap Box Derby (where kids build and ride in the cars) because he was too young inspired his father to create an alternative: Model cars racing down an inclined track. Once the rules and specs were developed, the first races were held (in 1953) in MB at the Scout House by Joslyn Center at Live Oak Park. This weekend, local scouts are running their entries for the 60th consecutive year. (Albeit in El Segundo, not MB.)

To plan your open-house tours for this week, use MB Confidential's online list of Manhattan Beach open houses (it's mobile-friendly!).

As usual, we appreciate it when readers share views on this week's featured properties. Let us know what you like, don't like or must have.

Hill Section

807 Boundary Place (3br/2ba, 1350 sq. ft.) will probably be the cheapest sale in the Hill Section all year, and it's a good bet saying that – even here in the first part of February.

It's a little, mostly original 1950s house (the kitchen has been upgraded) in a pretty challenged location just one door off of speedway Ardmore, and just across the street from Hermosa (as the street name, Boundary, suggests).

For $950k, you get a mostly frumpy house with a teeny garage and a little yard accessed off the side walkway (the lot is 4525 sq. ft.). You enter into one living room just off the kitchen and eating area; a second family room is way in back, apparently an addition. (This was probably a 2br/1ba originally.) Nothing is big or up to date besides the kitchen.

The back yard steps up a bit from the level of the house and is not really integrated into the home – as our note about the side walkway implies. There's a fairly large shed taking up some of that space; a "guest house," we heard some wags say during our tour.

Locationwise, Valley traffic creates some noise, but you are so close to Robinson school that you can hear the bells. That's something of a plus (the school more than the bells). And you're in the Hill Section. The immediate neighbor on Valley is an older home that is utterly overgrown with trees and shrubbery, signifying that homes like this are among the last to get redeveloped – if they ever do.

807 Boundary Place starts at $949,900, and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

230 Anderson (4br/5ba, 6125 sq. ft.) is everything 807 Boundary isn't. It's got big views, and it's newer and luxurious. Such is the diversity of the Hill Section.

The home should be familiar, inasmuch as it was on sale most of the past year. Just the other day, we said, "In its way, this one's a Hill Section beauty, boasting one of the highest points you'll find in the Hills, with good ocean views."

But it is an ultra-custom build dripping with an elaborate "French Riviera" style. It's too formal for the average, mainstream buyer, even at the $4m+ price point.

This past week we noted the relative shortage of bedrooms for the square footage, and even asked: Is this really a 3br house? Officially, it is 4br, and we're informed that during construction, plumbing was placed within 2 additional rooms not currently used as bedrooms with an eye toward their being converted some day by a buyer who wants additional suites. Yes, that's work, but less than it would have been without the accommodation during construction. And don't miss the extra, extra bonus space on the lowest level, which offers several options – game rooms, workshops, theater, etc.

230 Anderson ran a full year last year on market, gradually chopping from $5.5m to $4.5m.

It starts anew at $4.295m, and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

Sand Section

128 18th (5br/5ba, 4000 sq. ft.) is a gorgeous new "tropical contemporary" in one of the best locations in town, period. If you know the Sand Section, if you know the teen streets, 18th is probably the best. (MBC readers said so, and we wrote it up as one of the city's "Great Streets" in a post 4 years ago.)

Now the 100 block of 18th... Oh yeah.

So did they do the location justice with the build? Oh yeah.

Rooms feel wide open and spacious, sharp, modern and clean, with great views from the top level, front and back, and good views from the master as well. The "tropical contemporary" style here features mahogany wood flooring, cabinetry and trim, which lends a naturalistic air to the modern style, softening it and warming it up.

The top floor features disappearing nanawall doors at both ends, with a good-size patio out front and more of an outdoor room in back, a big space that's completely covered. The south-facing view includes PV, Catalina and even a sliver of the MB Pier. These spaces, plus the first-floor front patio that also gets the disappearing doors, makes for ideal indoor/outdoor living.

Take note of the car in the listing photos. That's a 550 Ferrari Maranello, year not given, that we hear will come with the house. This would officially be the third "free car" listing we've been aware of in MB, but we don't think they awarded the vehicles in the original 2 cases. 

128 18th starts at $6.1m. That would be a record price for a sale in the teen streets, eclipsing the $5.6m paid for 200 19th, a then-brand-new, high-end Cape Cod, a full 4 years ago (March 2008). A couple of new homes south of the pier have recently sold for, or been valued for, somewhat more, based on additions and upgrades during and after construction. And as we reported recently, 125 2nd is going to be the site of a new home, after a $4.2m purchase of the land – so it will likely climb over $6m when all is said and done.

128 18th starts at $6.1m and is open Sun. 2-5pm.

311 32nd (3br/3ba, 3500 sq. ft.) is possibly the largest TH we've seen, and it's also got some of the biggest views in town. (There's serious competition, but this one makes the final round, no doubt.)

This is the back, and senior, unit of a duplex built in the go-go years (2007 completion). Much of the top-floor living space is very nicely done and shows as nearly new. Views go on forever for nearly 180 degrees, and there are plenty of windows to feature them. On yet another awesome, clear, warm Friday, we could see the wide bands of approaching waves for a quarter mile offshore, and the break as well.

One side patio off the top floor is of good size, but unfortunately the city did not allow a fuller roof deck at the time the units were built. (The rules in place now might have allowed far greater outdoor space; a modification could be possible, but that's a different conversation.)

It's curious that none of the 3 bedrooms seems huge. There are 2 on the first floor along with a fairly large media room. The master's alone on the midfloor. All nicely appointed. Most of the plus-plus living space is in the bonus room on the first level and a larger-than-normal top floor. A recent appraisal measured and confirmed the square footage, we're informed.

311 32nd was purchased in Sept. 2007, new, for $2.850m.

It starts now at $2.549m and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

Tree Section

First things first, 657 31st (4br/4ba, 3625 sq. ft.) is NOT for sale at $1.199m, though a mistake some open-house listings may say it is.

Not for 3600 sq. ft. on famed 31st Street, no.

Try $1.999m. At least that's the start price.

657 31st is a late-80s build intended as a timeless design – they call it "French Country." There's thick stucco outside and an overall look that's very much Old World.

Outside it's Old World, while inside, let's just say that the home provides a series of "before" photos. The home is officially 23 years old, but the kitchen, baths and other features don't even feel that current. There is work to be done.

The layout is mostly pretty workable, though it seems the owners are not taking much advantage of the grand, 2-story living room up front. As with many formal living rooms, this step-down space feels isolated, out of the flow. (It was the style of the time.) The formal dining room is right off the entry – wax about that as you will – but the balance of the main floor is both big and cozy.

The kitchen has a good layout, even if it should be 90-100% updated/replaced, and a big casual-dining space flows openly into the family room in back. The smallish yard and patio are just off the family room. A big office space with double doors but no closet is also on the first floor – a "bonus room" with uncertain purpose that you see in newer construction as well. Yes, it could be a 5th br in a pinch. Completing the first floor is... the laundry room. (Oh, why is it not upstairs with the bedrooms?)

Master at 657 31st  
The 4br upstairs include one suite and 2br that share a jack-and-jill bath. The frontmost of those is potentially very charming, with a high, angular ceiling and exposed beams.

The master is huge, with 2 walk-in closets, a very big (if totally forgettable) bath, and an extra step-up space with a fireplace that must be intended as a getaway. We took to wondering if it could make for a good office – and whether you'd want that in your bedroom.

657 31st was last purchased for $1.4m in April 2002. It does not seem to have been improved much since then. It starts now at $1.999m (not $1.199m), reflecting the attraction of the location more than the home as it stands now. It is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

1808 Pine (3br/3ba, 1725 sq. ft.) spent several months on the market last year.

The 1970s home is unusual and, as we said the other day here, the "one-of-a-kind design" (per the old listing) is not very attractive. The 3 original bedrooms include 2 that are quite small. The kitchen needs an update, as does pretty much everything else.

You enter the home along what feels like a narrow bridge. (Pictured.) All that's missing is the moat.

Offered last year at $1.130m, 1808 Pine restarts now at $965k, with the provision that it's an "as-is" sale (no repairs, etc., by the seller). Some would surely view the offering as a lot sale. It is open Sat. & Sun. 2-4pm.

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