"On a clear day you can see Catalina."
That phrase has been so overused and misused, sometimes for properties from which there is no way to see Santa Catalina Island, which is about 20 miles from the mainland at its nearest point.
Yet there are some clear days when the island can be seen distinctly, and one of the most panoramic views is from the development known as Palisades Highlands, particularly from many of the lots in the top-of-the-project Oceanview Series.
From there, the view, when facing due south, includes the city of Santa Monica. Beyond, the beach curves southeasterly and then southerly, past Los Angeles International Airport and westward a trifle to round the Palos Verdes Peninsula, pointing like an arrowhead at Catalina Island more than 40 miles away.
Tucked away within a 7,000-acre wilderness preserve in Topanga State Park, Palisades Highlands has been under development since 1965 by Land Resources Corp./Headland Properties. Oceanview is the current phase.
Valued at $125 million by the developer, Oceanview contains 133 home sites, 74 of which are unsold, ranging from one-quarter acre to three acres, with buildable pads from 6,000 to 16,000 square feet. Custom homes from 3,000 to 6,200 square feet are being constructed on 17 of the lots that have been purchased, and the first 25 of 50 condominiums, 2,200 to 2,800 square feet in size, are under construction with completion targeted for May.
The home sites are priced from $225,000 to $387,000, and the homes rising on them from $600,000 to $1.2 million. Companies building the homes include Autry Development Enterprises, Foothill Construction & Development Co., Headland Properties, R & R Construction, W. Duane Niles and Green Venture Homes.
Prices of the condominiums range from $360,000 to $450,000. They are being built by Foothill Construction.
The Palisades Highlands development, in the lower part of Santa Ynez Canyon east of Topanga Canyon, consists of more than 1,000 custom homes, town houses and condominiums along Palisades Drive running up into the mountains from Sunset Boulevard about half a mile east of Pacific Coast Highway. Oceanview is at the top of the drive.
Previously developed neighborhoods include Palisades Country Estates, Palisades Hills and Palisades Villas. Recreational amenities include tennis, swimming pool and spa, while security is enhanced by a 24-hour armed, radio-dispatched patrol.
W. Charles Chastain, vice president of Land Resources Corp., commented:
"Our previous development in Palisades Highlands has stood the test of time. Established neighborhoods form a solid community base and those moving into the Palisades Highlands today will benefit a great deal from what has been developed and built since we started here in 1965.
"Land values throughout most of Southern California, and certainly in the Palisades Highlands, have increased substantially over the past 20 years, and we expect that trend to continue."
Others involved in the development include Ron Firestone and William Overpeck, the architects; VTN of Los Angeles, the land planner; Citibank N. A. of New York, Los Angeles and Tampa, underlying financing, and Security Savings & Loan Assn. of Scottsdale, Ariz., homesite financing and construction and permanent financing for custom homes.
The Jon Douglas Co., exclusive sales agent, staffs a model home and the sales office from 10 a.m. to dusk seven days a week.
Chastain summed up the developer's view:
"We firmly believe we have created a prime residential enclave, enriched by spectacular natural beauty, with a real sense of security, and that is at the same time very accessible to major urban financial, employment, shopping and cultural centers.
"It's mountain living in a country setting by the sea at its natural best."