With its near-perfect Mediterranean climate, rolling mountains and tranquil ocean vistas, you can always count on Montecito to serve up some lovely real estate listings. So today we journey up north to check out the properly beautiful Palmyra estate, a 4.5-acre compound located in the foothills near the western end of Montecito, just a few minutes’ drive from downtown Santa Barbara.
The fully-landscaped spread recently sold for exactly $10 million to Jeff Abrams, a fashion designer from Los Angeles. While that may seem like a lot of money — and it is — the property was originally listed for $19.5 million nearly four years ago. Numerous pricechops (and at least one change of realtors) inevitably followed. Finally, Mr. Abrams strolled into the picture and the deal was sealed.
Yolanda is no expert on the Montecito real estate market (or any market, for that matter) but your gurl is of the opinion that Mr. Abrams got a great deal here — just judging by the amount of land, features of this property and comparing to other Montecito homes (also written about by Yolanda) recently sold for double or even triple what this one fetched. The only real negative is this place doesn’t have much — if any — view of the Pacific. At least from what we can tell.
The property is comprised of three standalone structures: a Mediterranean-style main house, a three-bedroom guesthouse, and a low-slung adobe building/poolhouse. While the main and guest houses were built in 1991, the poolhouse dates to the early 1900s. Back then, the Palmyra property was part of the legendary El Mirador, a palatial 70-acre estate built by the wealthy Armour family in the early 1900s. El Mirador was one of Santa Barbara County’s crown jewels, as it were.
But time showed no mercy. El Mirador‘s grounds fell into ruin and were eventually subdivided. Now all that remains — at least on the Palmyra property — is the wee adobe building.
The 1991-built manor house was long occupied by Stephen Hahn, a noted art dealer/collector and expert on Picasso and Degas. Upon his 2011 death, the home passed to his widow Carla — the lady who just sold the whole caboodle to Mr. Abrams.
Current marketing materials do not specify the home’s size, but it’s quite large. If Yolanda had to guess, we’d wager the total square footage is 10,000 (or so). There are 5 beds and 6.5 baths.
Beyond imposing front gates, a serpentine drive winds past acres of gardens, rolling lawns and sculpted hedges before dead-ending at a central motorcourt. Guests will be impressed by the enormous double-height foyer with barrel-vaulted ceiling — y’all could practically land a small airplane in there.
The living room sports a substantial fireplace, coved windows, and sets of French doors overlooking a portion of the estate grounds. Likewise, the library and dining room sport similar getups (and substantial fireplaces, too).
An eat-in kitchen has a vaulted ceiling and top-of-the-line appliances. There are four bedroom suites in the main house, and the master sports French doors leading to a private balcony, fireplace plus dual closets and bathrooms.
Across the manicured lawn — check out that fountain! — is the 3-bed, 2-bath guesthouse. And hidden behind tall privets is the historic adobe structure — that relic of bygone El Mirador days — with its additional 2 beds, 3 baths and a 40-foot living room. Said room opens on one side to the tennis court and on the other, to the pool and adjacent patio area. Yolanda imagines this space could easily be converted into a gym or yoga studio, though we have no idea what the new owner intends to do with the place.
All told, there are 10 bedrooms and 11.5 bathrooms on the property, which seems like a lot of space for an unmarried, child-free guy. But although this property is big, for better or worse it sits directly below three monstrous compounds, all of which make Palmyra look like servants’ quarters. Those three mega-estates are owned by software CEO Dan O’Dowd, Ghostbusters producer Ivan Reitman, and Annette Simmons, widow of Texas-based multi-billionaire Harold Simmons.
Anywho. Speaking of Mr. Abrams, here’s a wee background on our boy. Born and raised in Beverly Hills, he began designing after spending time in Italy during college. His first product was headgear — yes, hats — which he began hawking door-to-door (and shop-to-shop).
Eventually Mr. Abrams began designing women’s shirts, which would ultimately become the halo product of Rails. Today, his signature plaid shirts are beloved for their quintessentially California chic look and comfort. Be warned, though, these casually luxe pieces ain’t for the financially faint of heart — one plaid shirt will set you back $148 (plus tax).
But hey, it’s worth it! The shirts have been worn by nearly every top female influencer on the planet: Beyonce, Kate Moss, Taylor Swift, Kendall Jenner and the Hadid sisters are all fans of Mr. Abrams’ clothing. And all those gals can’t be wrong. Right? For any curious ladies (and dudes — Mr. Abrams recently launched men’s and kid’s lines), you can find Rails clothing at most any luxury department store: Nordstrom’s, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, etc.
40-year-old Mr. Abrams has big dreams for his fashion line. Here he is talking about expansion plans/goals for Rails that include potential standalone retail stores in LA and NYC. But we digress.
Given that he now presides over a seriously deluxe vacation home up in Montecito, one might imagine Mr. Abrams’ main LA residence is just as grand — perhaps even grander. Surprisingly, that’s not the case.
For the past 5+ years, Mr. Abrams has bunked up in his modest bachelor pad out in the San Fernando Valley, in the unheralded neighborhood of Valley Village. The 1939 Spanish-style bungalow has a wee front porch, a sunken living room and 3-beds/2.5-baths in just over 2,500-square-feet of living space. But no pool. Our boy paid $1,250,000 for the property back in 2013.
FYI, Mr. Abrams’ Valley Village street is lined with gorgeous, towering magnolia trees. You’d almost think it was an affluent neighborhood way down south in Dixie, not deep in the LA Valley.
Listing & Selling agent: Cristal Clarke, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices