Linda Johnson Rice lists dramatic compound in Palm Springs’ Southridge

Since last week’s story about the huge $9 million Palm Springs transaction proved unexpectedly popular, Yolanda thought we’d make the trek back out to one of our favorite local vacation destinations today. Perhaps something else worthy of a quick chat lies out yonder.

Lo and behold, something quite interesting does indeed lurk in Southridge, a guard-gated community/street made up of approximately 20 houses, many of them cool mid-century pads.

Homes in the Southridge gated community, Palm Springs (photo: modtraveler.net)

Like the name implies, Southridge is located south of downtown Palm Springs, on a high ridge in the San Jacinto Mountains. Most of the homes there boast panoramic vistas of Palm Springs in its entirety (and the surrounding mountain ranges, too).

Southridge is notable for containing some of the area’s most significant — or at least most famous — residential architecture. There’s the oddball (and giant) Bob Hope estate, recently sold for a record-breaking $13 million to supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle. There’s the old Steve McQueen pad. And then there’s one of Yolanda’s all-time favorite homes: the Elrod house, made world-famous by the James Bond flick Diamonds Are Forever. (That place is now owned by LA fashion designer Jeremy Scott).

Today’s house was just listed a few days ago and hasn’t been on the market “in over fifty years,” per the listing. That’s interesting because records show the property last sold back in 1974 for $700,000. But we suppose that deal could’ve been an off-market situation.

Anyway, the property has long been owned by Linda Johnson Rice, a (very) prominent businesswoman from Chicago — and the heiress to a publishing empire founded by her entrepreneurial parents, John H. Johnson and Eunice W. Johnson.

Linda Johnson Rice

Widely regarded as the most influential African-American publishers in history, the Johnsons founded the Johnson Publishing Company, which served as the umbrella holding company for Ebony and Jet magazines plus book and film production divisions and their very popular Fashion Fair cosmetics line. At one point, Mr. Johnson’s personal net worth was estimated at $150 million and he was the first black American to ever appear on the Forbes 400.

The Johnsons purchased the Palm Springs pad as their vacation residence. Yolanda imagines it came in handy when they wanted to escape those bitterly cold Chicago winters. Upon their deaths — Mr. Johnson passed in 2005, Mrs. Johnson in 2010 — Ms. Rice inherited the spread.

Speaking of Ms. Rice, she currently serves as Johnson Publishing’s CEO and also served as Ebony‘s CEO until March 2018 (Johnson Publishing sold Ebony and Jet in 2016 for an undisclosed amount). She has also long been a very visible pillar of Chicago society. And yes, Ms. Rice also has SoCal ties — she graduated from USC with a degree in journalism.

Today, Ms. Rice serves on the board of directors for GrubHub and Omnicom Group. And perhaps most notably, she has been a board member at Tesla since 2017.

The 2.25-acre property comprises two adjacent parcels of land. One parcel contains the residence itself, while the second lot contains little more than a full-size tennis court — one of only two in the Southridge community — and some palm trees.

A generous motorcourt sits behind drought-resistant landscaping. The home’s windowless front facade features stacked stone walls and an elaborate carved front door.

Originally built in 1964, the mid-century spread has a foyer with intricate tile patterns, whitewashed brick walls and a bunch of tribal-lookin’ artifacts. Guests will be dazzled by the home’s central courtyard, with its massive pool surrounded by loggias. Check out those jade (?) dragons guarding the doors.

There are 6 beds and 6.25 baths in the roomy 5,386-square-foot residence, including a secluded master suite with built-in soaking tub and walls of glass. The glassy theme continues throughout the casa — imagine settling’ down at one of those tables with a glass of chianti and a good book. Ahhh.

An open-concept floorplan features living/dining/family room combos and would easily allow for a variety of customizations by the next owner. Elsewhere are three ensuite guest/family bedrooms and two staff rooms.

Outside is the second pool — yes, there are two pools — this one freeform and infinity-edged, overlooking all of downtown Palm Springs. And tucked under the eaves is a separate spa/jacuzzi.

If you’re looking for a unique Palm Springs home and you’ve got the moolah, Yolanda recommends hopping over to this place sooner, not later. With the two pools, stunning views and a spacious home on what is arguably the best street in Palm Springs, $5.3 million almost seems like a good deal.

Of course, living in Southridge doesn’t come cheap. In addition to the $5,300,000 ask for Ms. Johnson Rice’s home, prospective purchasers should keep in mind the hefty HOA fees of $1,400 per month — most of which goes toward the 24/7 guard salary.

But regardless of whether Ms. Rice succeeds in unloading her Palm Springs compound, she won’t be homeless. Her current primary residence is located in Chicago’s coveted Carlyle condo building.

The Carlyle, Chicago

Believe it or not, but Ms. Rice has lived in the Carlyle for over 50 years — since 1968, when she was a wee lass of 9. It was then that her parents purchased a two-unit combo on the 24th floor of the building.

In 1988, Ms. Rice bought a Carlyle apartment of her own — this one located on the 35th floor. After her parents’ deaths, however, she moved back into their larger spread. Records show she sold the 35th floor unit in 2011 for about $2.5 million.

Located on Chicago’s coveted Gold Coast, the Carlyle has long been a favored residential destination for the city’s elite. Owners there have included numerous CEOs, powerful real estate developers and local politicians. Some of the 1964 building’s earliest big-name residents were industrialist Henry Crown, Chicago Bears quarterback Sidney Luckman, real-estate mogul Arthur Rubloff and gossip columnist Irv “Kup” Kupcinet.

Listing agents: Nelson Moe Properties, Compass

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