YOUR MAMAS NOTES: People all across Los Angeles are betwixt, bewildered and all atwitter over the uncertain future of the somewhat mysterious and undeveloped 138 acres of ridge line property just to the west of the Hollywood sign that has recently hit the market with a $22,000,000 asking price. According to listing information, the five parcel property includes Cahuenga Peak, which at 1,821 feet is the highest elevation in the region, and serves as a visual back drop for the iconic, beloved and world famous Hollywood sign. The peak and ridge line, a strong visual guide and landmark, can be seen from nearly everywhere in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley Area.
Many in Los Angeles, including usually well informed real estate agents up and down Sunset Boulevard, can be forgiven for thinking the undeveloped land was in some way protected, public lands, or part of the neighboring 4,107 acre Griffith Park. But oh how näive we are. Until 2002 the property had been owned by Howard Hughes’ trust ever since the reclusive and often bizarre billionaire purchased the sky high parcels in the early 1940s.
The story goes that the kooky tycoon planned to build a secluded aerie on the property for his then lover Ginger Rogers. She, perhaps wisely, balked at the notion of being so alone and so far removed from the earthly delights of Hollywood below. The relationship soon went splitsville and the land remained undeveloped and a largely forgotten part of Howard Hughes’ trust for more than 60 years.
In 2002 Fox River Financial Resources, reportedly a group of investors from Chicago, acquired the property for just $1,675,000, which quite frankly seems like a paltry and even shameful amount of money for the Howard Hughes Trust to accept for the gigantic property.
Ever since, Angelenos in the know and city officials have worried themselves sick and bitten their nails to the nubbins with anxiety about what sort of development plans Fox River might have for the property. The LA Times reported that city officials were given the opportunity to purchase the residentially zoned land but, shockingly, were unable to come up with the funds. Some reports indicate the land was (recently) appraised at $6,000,000, and the much higher price being sought by Fox River is surprising. It also might be unrealistic at best and greedy at worst since they know they have the city, who does not want the land developed, bent over a barrel.
Listing information for the property indicates that the land can be developed into one massive estate with 360 degree views that stretch to the Pacific Ocean and over the San Fernando Valley, or that five large estates can be constructed, each offering jetliner and near total privacy. The home sites would be undeniably spectacular. At this point, it is unclear to Your Mama whether any permits or permissions have been sought or granted to pull up water lines, drag in power cables and etc.
Clearly there would be only a few that would benefit from the development of this land: Fox River, the builder/developer, a few real estate agents and whatever stupendously rich and trophy property seeking people purchase the hilltop estates. Everyone else loses one of the only large and untouched pieces of undeveloped land in West Los Angeles.
Here’s the thing…the owner of this land, or any land for that matter, is free to develop it as he or she sees fit as long as it fits in the parameters, zoning restrictions and guidelines that are set up but the locality. However, Your Mama asks…Does this mean that every good piece of land should be developed? At a blistering profit? We are of the opinion that the answer is no. Call us a pinko communist or whatever other silly thing you want, but having been raised in a part of Coastal California well known for its natural beauty, we are sensitive to the notion that healthy chunks of “nature” in its most untouched form are something to be maintained and preserved.
We can only hope that this 138 acres of rugged gorgeousness, which is arguably a part of every Angeleno’s psyche, can and will be bought by some ridiculously rich Angeleno who will happily, gladly and generously offer to donate it to Griffith Park. Mister Broad? Mister Geffen? Where are you and your billionaire brothers and sisters on this one?