The Eastside LA neighborhood of Los Feliz is chock-full of beautiful old homes, many of them Spanish Revival-style jewels. Some of those houses — most originally built in the 1920s and 1930s — have gradually decayed over the past decades. But soaring area real estate prices have recently enticed developers to buy these elderly ladies, give them a facelift and rhinoplasty, and flip them for millions in profit.
Take today’s house, which is located on one of the best streets in Los Feliz — a steep street lined by grand old manors. Originally built in 1930, the old gal was sold to a developer for just $3,200,000 in early 2015. One thorough modernization later, the property was put up for sale this March (2018) with a very aggressive $8,495,000 asking price. Yet it was in escrow within 11 days and eventually sold for the full asking price, all (almost) $8.5 million of it. Every last penny, every grain of sand.
Naturally Yolanda was curious about the new owner’s identity, particularly since $8.5 million is a very big number for this neighborhood. And this is far and away the biggest Los Feliz home sale of 2018 (so far).
Though the buyer’s name is locked away behind a trust, we eventually learned that he is a famous man named Jerry Lorenzo. Our Mr. Lorenzo is a successful fashion designer — more on that in a moment — who is married to his longtime lady love Desiree Manuel (née Martinez). The couple have three young children, one boy and twin daughters.
Our Mr. Lorenzo, now in his early 40s, has quite the interesting life story. He was born Jerry Manuel in Sacramento (CA), but we assume he uses the surname Lorenzo professionally to avoid confusion with his father Jerry Manuel, a well-known former Major League Baseball manager.
The younger Mr. Manuel — aka Mr. Lorenzo — grew up in a deeply religious household, with a mother who read him daily devotionals. Her influence would eventually make its mark on his clothing line.
As a young boy, however, Mr. Lorenzo never imagined working in fashion. Thanks to his father’s career, he was raised around professional athletes. Though his own family was not rich — Mr. Lorenzo has stated that his parents lived paycheck-to-paycheck until he was an adult — he saw how multi-millionaire ballplayers lived and assumed he’d become a sports agent one day.
But life has a funny way of derailing even the best-laid plans. After graduating with an MBA from Loyola Marymount University, Mr. Lorenzo took a job handling corporate sponsorships for the LA Dodgers, but quickly discovered that it was not his passion. Eventually he became a nightlife entrepreneur. Our boy spent several years hosting and promoting boozed-up shindigs here in LA.
As Mr. Lorenzo grew older, however, he realized that workin’ the nightclub scene would not endow him with a lasting career. So he left the business, got sober, and used the money he had saved to start a business — by that time he had a pregnant wife, a family to support. Though he had no formal training in fashion and no investors, he decided to launch a streetwear line.
In 2013, Fear of God was born. In just five years, the brand has grown from just an idea in Mr. Lorenzo’s head into something of a phenomenon. It now sports more than 1.4 million followers on the Instagram contraption. Fashionable stores like Neiman Marcus and Barney’s can’t restock the clothes fast enough. And the company has many celebrity aficionados — Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Kylie Jenner, and Kendrick Lamar have all been spotted rockin’ the brand’s $900 jeans and $700 hoodies on numerous occasions.
Fear of God is so successful that it has made Mr. Lorenzo something of a celebrity as well. He now boasts nearly a million Instagram followers of his own, and he was named one of the “Most Creative People of 2017”. While we don’t have any idea what his net worth may be, it’s clear he is not hurting’ for cash. His new $8.5 million Los Feliz mansion is proof of that.
Completely walled and gated for privacy and security, the house sports a wraparound front motorcourt and a walkway that leads to the carved-wood front door. A long front foyer lined with terracotta tile ends with a classic curved staircase. Immediately to the left of the entryway is a sunken living room with a coffered ceiling and fireplace.
We know that some of y’all may gripe about the vintage charm being “modernized out” of this residence with the recent renovation. But in your gurl’s opinion, the developers did a good job at infusing the contemporary features into this house without sacrificing too many of the classic details. Look, many of the doorways still have the old-school arches!
To the right of the entryway is a formal dining room that can easily seat 10 and connects to the all-new kitchen, which features a center island with bar-style seating, high-end appliances, and plenty of wine storage. The family room has no fewer than six sets of French doors — all opening to the backyard — and the adjacent office/library boasts huge bay windows and woodwork stained a glamorous ebony. Besides the foyer, all rooms on the main level sport hardwood floors.
The .3-acre property, while not particularly big, is actually a smartly turned-out mini-compound. There are three structures on the premises: the main house, the garage/guesthouse, and a poolside loggia with a bathroom and changing facilities. Total stats are 7,200-square-feet with 6 beds and 9 baths.
All five of the main house’s bedrooms are located on the second floor, and all feature convenient en-suite bathrooms. The master suite is rather larger than we might’ve imagined — it takes up an entire wing of the house and sports a spacious bedroom with a fireplace, a private living room, a walk-in closet, a bathroom with soaking tub, and a huge private outdoor terrace with a sitting area.
Backyard amenities include a BBQ and a large terrace easily capable of accommodating large outdoor parties. Amid the olive trees is a classy swimming pool/spa combo, and the poolside loggia features an outdoor fireplace. The home’s two-car garage is all the way at the rear of the mini-estate, and is set directly below a studio apartment that’s perfect for a live-in housekeeper or nanny.
Though this is one of the most prestigious streets in Los Feliz, there aren’t too many celebs that reside here. More like ordinary, everyday rich folks. Still, the roadway isn’t completely devoid of fame — right across the street from Mr. Lorenzo’s new compound is the home of comedian Bill Burr, who purchased his house in a quiet off-market deal last year for $4,700,000.
And don’t quote us on this but Yolanda thinks Mr. Lorenzo’s $8.5 million Los Feliz manse may actually be his very first (purchased) home. Previously, he and Ms. Manuel lived in the city of Glendale — just a bit northeast of their new digs — but that house was only a rental. And as far as we know, he’s never owned any other property.
The moderately charming Glendale rental house was built way back in 1927 in a Spanish style and has since been updated, clearly. There are 4 beds and 4 baths in 2,272-square-feet, and the property was last available for rent at a rate of $6,900 per month.
What we like best about the Glendale house, however, is that it’s only a 5-minute drive (or so) from the scrumptious Porto’s Bakery. Never had Porto’s? Do yourself a favor and drive out there (or visit one of their other locations scattered across the Southland). One bite of their potato balls will have even the most hardcore agnostic placing their faith in God, we promise.