Nine-figure price tags and four-lane bowling alleys no longer guarantee open-house headlines when it comes to LA’s exploding luxury spec home scene. So what’s a determined developer to do? The answer, it seems, is a near universal focus on outrageously opulent amenities: Think jellyfish viewing galleries, air-conditioned car museums, and rooms made entirely of energy-altering salt. Extreme? Yes. Obscene? Perhaps. Welcome to the tippy-top of the city’s housing market.
Mansion envy: These days it’s not the size of spec homes but the amenities that matter, including the ubiquitous modern-day “moat” at hilltop spreads like a recent Bevery Hills listing on Laurel Way.
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As spec homes have become larger, grander, and more expensive, so have water features. Viewing pools—where one side is made entirely of see-through acrylic—have become a hillside must-have for certain developers, while moats are de rigueur for others. When architect Richard Landry created a custom-designed castle-like home for Giselle Bündchen and Tom Brady, he included a moat (or “show-moat,” since the shallow waterway contained no crocodiles). Dr. Dre has since purchased the property.
Pushing the water concept into even more outrageous seas is mega-developer Nile Niami. His latest project, The One, has earned the moniker of “giga-mansion” for its mind-boggling 100,000-squarefoot size as well as features that will include a 5,000-square-foot master suite, a 30-car gallery, and a 45-seat IMAX theater that “rivals any commercial theater,” says Niami. And then there’s the jellyfish room, a lounge area where “jelly fish swim around you and surround you.” A moat will “surround the entire property, so it feels like the mansion is floating on water,” he says of the home that will be listed at $500 million. Yes, that’s right.
While twin kitchens are now practically expected in most spec homes—a show kitchen along with a hidden kitchen where professional chefs can work in privacy— the obsession with ever more specific beauty rooms continues to grow. “Staying in and maintaining your privacy for simple things like dental visits, yoga, massages, and even cosmetic surgery procedures has become the norm in these over-the-top spec homes,” says The Agency’s James Harris, star of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles. Now that basic beauty services have made their debut, developers are looking to less expected and even more out-there forms of extravagance. Architect Paul McClean recently created an entire room out of salt for one spec home developer. “Wellness spas are really big right now,” says McClean. “Steam rooms, saunas, hammams, salt rooms, which are entire rooms made out of salt—it’s supposed to be beneficial.” Om-azing
Currently the most expensive home for sale in the US is a 38,000-squarefoot Bel-Air spec spread developed by QVC handbag tycoon Bruce Makowsky. The $250 million, 21-bathroom, three-kitchen compound comes loaded with a helipad and $30 million worth of cars. As for its truly jaw-dropping amenity? A seven-person staff for two years. At Opus, Niami’s Hillcrest manse, mindboggling details include Roberto Cavalli flooring, a gold Lamborghini Aventador Spyder and a gold Rolls-Royce Dawn that come with the home, as well as a Champagne vault pre-loaded with 170 bottles of Cristal. How to manage it all? No problem. A “house concierge” is included for two years with the $100 million price tag. We’ll take it.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BERLYN PHOTOGRAPHY (924 BEL AIR ); COURTESY OF
SIMON BERLIN (1677 N. DOHENY); COURTESY OF THE AGENCY (1201 LAUREL).
OPPOSITE PAGE: RENDERING COURTESY OF SKYLINE DEVELOPMENT INC.
(THE ONE); BERLYN PHOTOGRAPHY (924 BEL AIR)