In Los Angeles, Small is a Big Trend for New Developments As the market slowed, downsized luxury condos are trending in the coming season
April 3, 2020
By Nancy A. Ruhling
Although the Los Angeles condo market as a whole ended 2019 on a dramatic down note, the upper end, comprised of “boutique” developments with prices starting at more than $3 million, more than held its own.
Overall, the market saw a 37.9% year-over-year decrease in sales and an average 3.4% annual fall in prices to $724 per square foot, according to Compass Market Watch for the fourth quarter of 2019, but units priced over $3 million had the best year-over-year price performance, rising 22.4%.
The luxury condos that are picking up steam in the core of the city have a small number of units, imbuing them with a rarity that purchasers are willing to pay a premium for, said Sandra Eaton, regional director-West Coast Compass.
She added that small-lot subdivisions, which offer exclusivity, are another popular choice “because they give foreign buyers the ability to buy a single-family home; this is alluring because they are used to having condos as the only option.”
She said that although there will be more small-lot developments in the future, she sees them as a prelude to the development of more condos.
“Two-thirds of the buyers in L.A. buy close to where they work,” she said. “There will be more luxury offerings in the greater L.A. area because people don’t want to have a long commute. There’s only so much land, so you have to go vertical, but the development has to be compelling. Condos offer greener living, and they’re becoming more alluring to the younger buyer who is more nomadic.”
Here are some of the condo and small-lot-subdivisions—free-standing single-family houses or attached townhouses that have separate walls and are built on lots that are smaller than conventional single-family lots—launching sales in spring and summer.
Skye 22, 10811 Hortense St., Toluca Lake
Located in the San Fernando Valley, Skye 22 is a small-lot subdivision in a modern or warm contemporary style that’s designed to blend in with its eclectic neighbors, which are a mix of single-family and multi-family residences that were built roughly between the 1940s and the 1980s.
Across the street from a new small-lot subdivision, Skye 22’s three-story stucco and fiber-cement siding townhouses feature living spaces on the first two floors and bedrooms on the third.
“The roof decks are like backyard spaces,” said architect Alan Scales, a principal at KTGY Architecture + Planning, which designed the project.
He said the way the land is subdivided is what distinguishes Skye 22.
“It looks like one development,” he said. “To the north and the west, where there are existing multi-family developments, the density of Skye 22 is higher. The houses start out being eight inches apart and spread out as they move south so they are 10 feet apart to blend into that part of the neighborhood, where there are single-family homes.”
Sales are launching in April.
Number of Units: 22
Price Range: $900,000s and up
Developer/Architect: Warmington Residential/KTGY Architecture + Planning
Home Sizes: 1,921 to 1,983 square feet
Amenities: Private yards, patio space, rooftop decks, oversized two-car garages.
Photo: KTGY Architecture + Planning
CUE NoHo, 10907 Otsego St., North Hollywood
A small-lot subdivision in the NoHo Arts District, CUE is right in the center of things—it’s less than a mile from the Metro, and it’s in the hub of restaurants, markets, boutiques, theaters and nightlife-spots that make the neighborhood vibrant.
The three-story stucco and cement-board-siding residences were designed to fit into the creative character of the San Fernando Valley neighborhood and to impart a bit of the glamour of Hollywood Hills.
“The design is a playful reaction to the arts district,” said architect and project manager Alan Dana of Modative, the designer of the development.
He added that CUE also pays tribute to the Hollywood studios that are part of the community’s history.
The shape of the roof line references the Santa Monica, San Gabriel and Santa Susana mountain ranges that surround the development on three sides, and the gray siding creates a silhouette of a single-family house.
Mr. Dana said that the living rooms were placed on the top floor to better take advantage of the views.
Sales are launching in April.
Number of Units: 20
Price Range: $700,000s and up
Developer/Architect: Warmington Residential/Modative
Home Sizes: 1,571 to 1,788 square feet
Amenities: Each has a den or flex space, a two-car garage, a comprehensive, state-of-the-art home automation system, a balcony and a rooftop deck with cinematic views.
The Estelle, 1333 S. Orange Grove Ave., West Los Angeles
Centrally located on the border of Beverly Hills in the prestigious Westside neighborhood, The Estelle is the first condo development on its block.
The Old Spanish-style complex, built on the former site of five homes, was designed to fit seamlessly into the largely residential neighborhood, which has single-family and multi-family buildings.
“We hired a separate architect for the interior and exterior,” said developer Steve Erdman, who noted that The Estelle faces a block of single-family homes and duplexes. “The exterior is timeless, not modern.”
The family-centric neighborhood, which is equally close to Culver City and the Wilshire Boulevard Corridor, lately has become the home to hip cafés, jazzy-style bars and even some condo developments such as The Estelle.
Noting that The Estelle is the first condo development to open in the neighborhood in nearly a quarter century, Mr. Erdman said that “we’re offering a Beverly Hills product without Beverly Hills prices. The finishes are very high end. If you bought the same condo in Beverly Hills, it would be three to four times the price. Even if you bought a single-family home by The Estelle, it would be about $2 million.”
Sales will launch in May.
Number of Units: 61
Price Range: High $900,000s and up
Developer/Architect: Canfield Development/DE Architects and PK Architects
Apartment Sizes: Two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 1,300 to 1,900 square feet
Amenities: A lobby with a concierge and uber lounge, a mailroom with package delivery lockers, a social room with a chef’s kitchen and a private dining/conference room, a fitness center, a Zen courtyard, a pool and spa, a pet spa, a barbecue lounge, rooftop decks that include sun lounging spaces, barbecue dining and lounge areas, cabanas and an a outdoor theater all set in lush landscaping that includes mood lighting, fire pits and waterfalls.
Photo: Canfield Development
Pendry Residences West Hollywood by Montage Hotels & Resorts, Sunset Boulevard and Olive Drive, West Hollywood
The flagship residential project for the Pendry brand with residential service by Montage Hotels & Resorts, Pendry Residences West Hollywood is set in the heart of the Sunset Strip, offering stunning views of the Hollywood Hills and the cityscape.
The development, which is adjacent to the hotel, includes a private music venue, the first in West Hollywood in more than two decades, seven food and beverage offerings by Chef Wolfgang Puck and a private social club.
The residences, which have large floor plans, flow to private verandas, and some of the units include landscaped terraces of up to 3,400 square feet that have pools, spas and outdoor kitchens.
The development features a private entrance to separate it from the hotel, and dual elevators lead to private vestibules for most residences.
Sales will launch in late March.
Number of Units: 40
Price Range: $3 million and up
Developer/Architect/Interior Designer/Landscaping: AECOM Capital and Combined Properties/Designed by Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects, executed by Cuningham Group Architects/Martin Brudnizki Design Studio/Lifescapes
Residence Sizes: 2,900 to 6,000 square feet
Amenities: Exclusive residents’ lobby, private valet services, a rooftop pool, a fitness center, a garden deck, a boardroom, a residential lounge with stocked bar and wine-tasting room with private lockers, and a dedicated residential staff delivering personalized experiences such as catering and Wolfgang Puck in-residence dining. Residents also have preferred access to the hotel’s amenities, which include the food and beverage outlets helmed by Michelin-starred Chef Wolfgang Puck; a multi-purpose live entertainment venue, screening room and bowling alley; exclusive membership to The Britely, a private club, and to Spa Pendry and its state-of-the-art fitness center and curated art collection.
Photo: Pendry Residences West Hollywood