Real Estate newsletter: Inside L.A.’s plan to add 250,000 homes

Welcome back to the Real Estate newsletter, where a busy week brought us news from every corner of the Southern California housing market.

Let’s start with the affordable part of the market (relatively speaking, of course). State regulators recently rejected Los Angeles’ long-term plan for growth, and now the city is facing a deadline for the ages: It must rezone to accommodate 250,000 new homes by mid-October. If the city can’t figure it out in time, it could lose access to billions of dollars in housing grants.

To be frank, making the deadline will be a stretch because rezoning for that many homes is usually a matter of years, not months. L.A. has a 3,000-word essay due at midnight. It’s 10:30 p.m. Fingers crossed.

On the luxury end of the market, we saw two famous musicians enter the fray. The first is DJ Calvin Harris, who listed his five-structure compound in Beverly Crest for $25 million. The prized property comes with an East Coast-inspired mansion, a garage that ascends to a movie theater and a guesthouse that’s been converted into two recording studios.

The second is Pharrell Williams, who finally sold his ridge-top estate in Hollywood Hills for $9.2 million. It’s the second California home the Grammy winner has sold since moving into a $30-million mansion in Florida during the pandemic. The place Williams sold has almost as many amenities as Harris’, including a skate park, outdoor theater and 70-foot infinity pool.

We also got a scoop from the commercial market. Fresh off their Super Bowl victory, the Rams are in negotiations to build a new practice facility in Woodland Hills on the site of the former Woodland Hills Promenade shopping mall. Ballpark estimates put the potential deal at $150 million or more.

Finally, we got another stellar installment from Liam Dillon on the damage of freeways planned but never built. In the San Francisco Bay Area, some houses along the abandoned 238 Freeway have been upgraded and repaired, a happy ending for a lucky few. Others remain squalid, with doors and windows boarded up and lawns littered with trash.

While catching up on the latest, visit and like our Facebook page, where you can find real estate stories and updates throughout the week.

L.A.’s assignment: add 250,000 homes

The Da Vinci Apartments under construction in Los Angeles.

The Da Vinci Apartments under construction on Temple Street next to the 110 Freeway in Los Angeles.

(Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles must rezone to accommodate an additional quarter-million new homes by mid-October after state housing regulators rejected the city’s long-term plan for growth, Liam Dillon and David Zahniser write.

The likelihood that L.A. will be able to accomplish in months a task that would normally would take several years is very low, but the cost of failure could be high, experts say.

If city leaders do not fix the housing plan or complete the rezoning by the new deadline, they could lose access to billions of dollars in affordable housing grants, officials with the state Department of Housing and Community Development said in a letter this week.

Without the money, the production of new housing for low-income and homeless residents throughout L.A. would take a massive hit at a time when more than 41,000 people are homeless and soaring rents and the COVID-19 pandemic are making it harder for Angelenos to stay in their homes.

DJ spins compound onto market

An aerial view of Dj Calvin Harris' 2.7-acre estate.

The 2.7-acre estate includes a main house, guesthouse, two recording studios, security building, movie theater and gym.

(Christopher Amitrano / Douglas Elliman Realty)

Calvin Harris, the do-it-all DJ from Scotland who also produces and sings, is asking $25 million for his impressive compound in Beverly Crest — or $10 million more than he paid for it in 2014.

The price increase comes with a quality increase, as Harris completely reimagined the estate during his eight-year stay.

Gates guard the property, which is reached by a long, winding driveway and offers little reason to leave with five structures spread across 2.7 acres. There’s a main house built in 2014, two-story guesthouse divided into two recording studios, a five-car garage that rises to a movie theater, security building and gym.

Pharrell sells second California home

The striking home sits atop a narrow ridge in Laurel Canyon.

Built by Hagy Belzberg, the striking sits atop a narrow ridge in Laurel Canyon.

(Anthony Barcelo)

Pharrell Williams just sold his second California home in three years, unloading a glass-covered compound sprawled across a ridge in Hollywood Hills for $9.2 million.

The final sale comes up short of the $12 million he was asking in 2020, but it’s still about $2 million more than he paid for it in 2015.

Perched on a promontory lot in Laurel Canyon, the contemporary residence resembles his other L.A. home — a striking architectural compound that he bought from Tyler Perry in 2018 and sold two years later for $14 million. The Grammy-winning artist moved to Florida during the pandemic, dropping $30 million on a 17,000-square-foot showplace in Coral Gables.

His most recent sale might be his most stylish. The slender, low-slung abode was built in 2007 by Hagy Belzberg, a Santa Monica architect who creates striking, spaceship-like spaces. Here, Belzberg unites glass and stone with jagged lines slicing through scenic interiors.

Rams eyeing new practice facility

Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald runs a drill during practice before the Super Bowl.

Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald runs a drill during practice before the Super Bowl.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Super Bowl champions could soon set up camp a kick away from Victory Boulevard, write Roger Vincent, Bill Shaikin and Sam Farmer.

The Rams are in negotiations to buy the site of the former Woodland Hills Promenade shopping mall and build a team practice facility there, according to people familiar with the talks who were not authorized to discuss them publicly and asked for anonymity.

If the deal is completed, the Rams could pay more than $150 million for the 34-acre site, which would be large enough to hold a summer training camp with fans in attendance. The Rams have practiced at Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks but have staged training camp at UC Irvine.

Freeways leave scars, whether built or abandoned

Debbie Frederick stands in her front yard in Hayward, Calif.

Debbie Frederick, 72, stands in her front yard in Hayward, Calif.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Eight lanes of freeway would be slicing through what’s now Debbie Frederick’s house if everything had gone to plan, Liam Dillon writes.

Instead, the retired nurse practitioner gazes through her home’s picture windows on clear afternoons to take in a sweeping view of San Francisco Bay.

She had rented the three-bedroom stucco house in the East Bay city of Hayward for nearly a quarter century when, just over a decade ago, her absentee landlord, the state of California, finally gave up on plans to build the proposed 238 Freeway.

The state began selling off hundreds of properties, and, in 2013, Frederick bought the house for $250,000. “I’m sitting on a gold mine by accident and good luck,” she said.

But for others, blight and resentments linger.

What we’re reading

In September, The Times looked at L.A.’s growing list of million-dollar neighborhoods, where home sales exceeded a median of $1 million. New additions during the pandemic included Eagle Rock, Echo Park, Atwater Village and Woodland Hills. That trend is continuing nationwide, according to Zillow, which found that the number of million-dollar cities has tripled since 2020. CNBC has the story.

A few weeks ago, we highlighted a circus wagon that had been converted into a home. The latest entry in the “weird thing converted into a home” category is an Ohio church, where a family of seven transformed a 1903 house of worship into a chic space with a slide and pews as dining seats, according to New York Post.






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