Weekend Opens (2/18-2/19)

By Dave Fratello | February 18th, 2012
If you're a local and, maybe more so, if you've got kids in school, this is the start of Ski Week.

Ski Week has nothing to do with the beach, and everything to do with the behavior of MB residents.

Word is that in years past, school absences in February became atrocious, epidemic, and – more to the point – costly. The schools get money based on attendance. If the kids were skipping class to be in Mammoth, Aspen, or Sun Valley with mom & dad, the schools suffered.

So now we get a full week off of school in February so the parents (and kids) can play. All to the better: The change has netted about $1m more per year for the district, by one account, with reduced absences. Not to mention the economic boost to Mammoth, Aspen, Sun Valley... or even Palm Springs. (Not everyone skis.)

The disappearance of current residents shouldn't depress the number of RE listings, but it can. There are few truly new listings this week, and some retreads from last year trying to gain a footing this year, as everyone knows inventory is tight.

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

Sand Section

325 21st St. (3br/3ba, 1525 sq. ft.) is a great example of how to revive and modernize a moderately sized 1950s cottage.

Though it's a very well-done home with some good ocean views from the front room, plus something of a surprise in a spacious back patio/yard with faux grass, most of the value here is in the land. The 2700 sq. ft. lot is zoned to allow 2 townhomes, and some day that will be the best use of the dirt.

As it stands now, you enter the cottage up a very long flight of stairs into a nice living room – the one with views. All the common spaces have dark hardwood floors, and all living spaces are on one level (a reward after hoofing those stairs). The master suite is just off the living room up front, and while the bedroom isn't large, the bath is of good size and beach-modern in style. 

Down the hall are 2 kids' bedrooms boasting a nice surprise: a modern jack-and-jill bath built between them and really accessible only to the bedrooms. This cannot have been part of the original 1950s layout, but it's a smart update.

The long alley kitchen is also 21st-century sweet and with lots of storage. A great room with dining area and a nice – if not large – second living room in back opens to that surprising, flat, more-than-adequate back patio/yard. No townhome gets this kind of personal outdoor space. It's a huge bonus. (Day-to-day, you might park out back and enter the home through the yard, minimizing the stair hike.)

325 21st looks to have been updated before a 2008 sale for $1.665m.

325 21st is now offered for $1.599m. The land might be worth 80% of that (or more). So while a 1500 sq. ft. cottage for $1.6m sounds like it pushes the ceiling, there's a lot of value right under your toes. The home is open Sun. 2-4pm.

320 24th Pl. (3br/3ba, 1675 sq. ft.) is a different way to spend your $1.6m – not on land that could be built up into townhomes, but on one of the finished units.

Much about the TH is familiar if you have seen newer units around town, with a quite small bottom-floor office/bedroom, a couple midfloor bedrooms and the living space up top. We liked the separate entry for the bottom-floor room, which brightened it up a bit. Cherry wood floors throughout add a little spice and uniqueness. And among THs, this master suite is pretty nice.

The top floor felt a tad bigger than expected, very bright and with real ocean views. Sometimes a unit on the back alley like this is notably the weaker of 2 units, but in terms of views, this one's doing fine.

320 24th Place last sold for $1.575m in May 2006, and spent 6 months on the market last year (April-Oct.) at $1.649m down to $1.559m.

It begins anew this year at about the same level, $1.599m – no rewind from '06 here, yet. 

320 24th Place is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

121 36th Place (4br/4ba, 2700 sq. ft.) had a one-shot open house in November but has now hit the MLS and looks like it's ready for more conventional marketing.

This is a newer (2005) custom build on a 2/3rds-size lot (1725 sq. ft.) just a few steps up from The Strand.

The top level boasts a full-bore, PV-to-Malibu ocean panorama as well as the sounds of crashing surf.

The home blends an exterior style that's more of a modern Mediterranean with the all-white interior aesthetic you'd find more commonly in a coastal Cape Cod. Whatever the style, it's a fully modern, spectacular space upstairs. If you climb up on tiptoes, you may see the waves crash into the sand. The neighbor to the west is new construction, so the view now is the view you'll keep.

On a smaller lot like this, you expect to find rooms that are a bit tight, and that's the case. The master is clearly the master, but with no extra space. There are 2 kid bedrooms and a laundry room sharing the main bedroom floor, so space is at a premium everywhere. A 4th bedroom is downstairs at the garage level.

But here's the surprise: Go below the garage level, and there's an extra bonus room plus a big wine cellar. The space seems now to be sort of a gym/media room. However you use it, space dug out beneath the garage like this clearly shows a commitment to maximizing the lot. It's a pricey extra that tells you something about the value of a 100 block – even on an alley.

121 36th Place starts at $2.575m and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

217 9th (3br/3ba, 1725 sq. ft.) always surprised us.

Why did someone set out to build a showpiece of modern/green architecture in a downtown-adjacent location with issues? Why only 3br? Why only 1700 sq. ft.?

Why did they think it would ever be a $3m+ house on a half lot?

And then: Hey, how did they get $3.0m after all?

Well, it was 2007. (They really did get exactly $3.0m.)

They never opened up 217 9th in 2007 to the public, and it wasn't open Friday for brokers, either, but they do have it posted as a public open house for this Saturday & Sunday. Worth a gander.

Sure, the home looks very sharp, and they talk up the unique woods and materials in the description. Judging by the pics, it looks super-sharp. Also vacant. All the better to appreciate the original materials, right?

This time around, they're basically still asking $3m – $2.950m to be exact, over $1,700/PSF. Wow. No rewind from '07 here, yet.

217 9th is open Sat. & Sun. 12-4pm.

Tree Section

2516 Palm (3br/2ba, 2250 sq. ft.) is a mixed-up curiosity of a house on a short cul-de-sac block off of Marine. The home abuts Ardmore on the other side of a high fence; you can hear cars whooshing by.

What is going to help sell this one is the plus-size lot, an odd-shaped 7350 sq. ft. plot that offers a big, sunny, grassy yard on one side and a fairly sizable separate, big patio with planting areas on the other side of the house. You rarely never find this much outdoor space at a lower-tier price like you see at 2516 Palm.

The layout raises multiple questions. On the first floor, 2 bedrooms are just off the dining area. The dated kitchen marks out an unusual "angled alley" footprint. There are at least 3 separate living rooms, one wood-paneled room at the entry, another a few steps up, and yet another further back. And that doesn't count the second-floor landing above the 3rd living room.

The master is upstairs and separate, just about as far away from the kids' bedrooms as could be. The master bath seriously needs an upgrade, while the first-floor bath is OK but wants one.

The blue carpet has to go, the wood paneling probably will go, and you can mess around with updates almost any place you look. What you can't fix easily is the layout, and that's what makes 2516 Palm a puzzle. We'd be wary of over-improving the house, but then, it doesn't have to be knocked over.

True fact: We're told the "main" house with the 2br, kitchen, eating area and paneled living room were all part of an original house in Beverly Hills, which was transported to the current location before various additions.

Puzzling 2516 Palm starts at $1.189m, and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

3609 Oak (3br/2ba, 1100 sq. ft.) begins with some rather obvious strikes against it – location very near Rosecrans and across the street from a commercial building, and the house is on the small side.

But to the positive, they've managed to tidy up the place and add some plus factors that make it nice for an entry-level option.

Front and back decks invite outdoor living and bring plenty of light into the home. That's pretty much a real yard in back, at least as the Trees go, and it's on the sunny western side.

As is standard in a 1950s house, no bedroom gets its own bath – they share one in the hallway, and it's not fully updated. The extra half bath is a nice essential bonus. A 2003 listing touts remodeling from 2001, though the kitchen could use an upgrade some day.

3609 Oak starts at $975k, and is open Sun. 2-4pm.

2701 Pacific (3br/3ba, 3000 sq. ft.) raised our hackles a bit last year when they asked $1.589m for a quirky 3br on a busy street. Absolutely no one bit, and the listing – which began in March 2011 – quit after 3 months.

It's back now at a better price – $1.419m – trying to find buyers who can tolerate the issues but like the positives. (Note: As we post, the property is not yet live on Redfin, so that link above won't show you much until the listing goes live.)

So let's start with the positives. You do have 3000 sq. ft. of living space, lined by nice oak floors downstairs, a big family room connected to dining, connected to the out-of-doors. There's a sun-splashed, cozy sitting room (it's actually where the current folks have their big TV). The main upstairs bedrooms are 2 very large master suites – one for the kid(s) and one for the parents. These additions are each a few hundred square feet, almost separate worlds. 

And there's a sizable yard, half hardscape and half grass and plants. (Tall, thickly foliaged trees groomed as a 20-foot privacy screen may actually make the yard shadier than you'd like.)

The worries begin with the bedroom layout and focus on the kitchen.

This is a legit 3br house, with one downstairs and those 2 master-type suites, but they're each accessed by separate staircases up off the kitchen and casual dining area. Different. (You see one staircase in this pic right off the set of barstools.)

We mentioned a "casual dining area," presumably the area behind those barstools, but it's not being shown that way now. This avoids cluttering the space, but also focuses the questions: What is this space for? And why is the kitchen so small?

The solution is probably a bit of work. Blow out the wall separating the small kitchen from the charming great room, redo (and grow) the kitchen and take those bedroom staircases out of the flow. That might be possible. If you do that work, does that make this house great, or just better?

2701 Pacific starts now at $1.419m and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

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