It's a rare day in May (how appropriate) when a house comes on the market on London's exclusive tree-lined avenue, Kensington Palace Gardens, commonly (excuse the expression) known as "Millionaires' Row."
What's more, the chance seldom arises to become a neighbor of Lady Di.
However, this is the case, Dr. Watson and others, but there's no mystery to it. 20 Kensington Palace Gardens, which has been put up for sale, is next door to Kensington Palace. And you know who lives there! Not only the Prince and Princess of Wales but Princess Margaret and some other members of the Royal Family.
20 Kensington Palace Gardens also adjoins Hyde Park and is within the Kensington Palace Conservation Area in the heart of London's diplomatic enclave. It is being handled by the Crown Estate Commissioners, managers of the Royal Family's property interests, and has been listed with Knight Frank & Rutley and Chestertons, Chartered Surveyors--both in London.
The 25-room mansion, most recently occupied by the European Economic Community, is for sale at an undisclosed price, but offers "in the area of 5 million (about $7.25 million)" are being considered. "You buy it for 60 years," Alan J. Rogers of Douglas Elliman Knight Frank, the New York affiliate of Knight Frank & Rutley, said. Besides the purchase price, there is a ground rent of 2,500 a year for the first 20 years, 5,000 a year for the next 20 years, and 10,000 for the remainder.
The buyer is also expected to restore the three-story, 18,500-square-foot building, designed by Sir Charles Barry and completed in 1846.
The half-acre property, which also includes a five-room cottage and front and rear gardens, is already "attracting significant interest," Rogers noted. "However, the buyer will be carefully selected to meet the commissioners' criteria."
What criteria? "There is no set of ground rules, but the commissioners will look at each prospective purchaser and decide if it is a suitable person to be an owner of that property. The purchaser will probably be someone from a Middle-Eastern oil family or a very rich American who is well known in society or the business world."
In the '50s, the house was the home of movie producer Sir Alexander Korda, the Hungarian who moved to London in 1930 to become the "legendary father-figure of the British film industry." Korda made "Catherine the Great" in 1933, "The Scarlet Pimpernel" in 1934 and "Anna Karenina" in 1948 before moving to the house and holding what Rogers termed "many famous parties."
Would a movie producer, who might like to give such parties, be considered as the owner today? "I'm not so certain that a wild owner would be approved," Rogers answered with a chuckle, "but I'm not saying that a movie producer or somebody in the entertainment business wouldn't be considered."
Word has it that Rosanna Arquette, who stars with Madonna and Aidan Quinn in the currently screening movie "Desperately Seeking Susan" and was the inspiration for the rock group Toto's hit single "Rosanna," has purchased actress Barbara Hershey's Topanga Canyon hideaway for roughly $275,000.
The dark-eyed Hershey, who appeared in such films as "The Right Stuff" and "The Entity," has been lured to New York to appear in a play, according to a source, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified.
"Barbara bought the house five or six years ago and dumped a lot of money into it," he said. "It's not a big house--probably 2,000 square feet--but has a gorgeous master suite, natural woods, and a marvelous view."
It's what he termed "very private and romantic." That's nice, because Arquette is apparently engaged, he observed, sporting "an enormous rock on her finger."
If this isn't yet hot property, it's certainly spicey! At the ground breaking for his San Clemente housing development, Rick Doremus planted some garlic cloves "to ward off the evil spirits of high interest rates."
"We've tried everything else to keep the interest rates down," he said, "and while burying the garlic might not help, it's a sure bet to give the ground a good head start on the Italian Mediterranean flair we're about to create." His project is called Villagio.
And if you think that's a waste of good garlic, consider this:
Herman G. Rowland, president of the Herman Goelitz Candy Co. Inc., shoveled soil over neatly planted rows of his company's best-known product, Jelly Belly jelly beans, at a ground breaking for a new $15-million facility in Fairfield to house his firm's offices, manufacturing plant and warehouse. The planting was called "a symbolic gesture of the family-owned company's past growth and future potential."
Goelitz Candy, which has been in Oakland for 63 years, only achieved modest growth until 1981, when Jelly Belly fan Ronald Reagan became President. Virtually unknown outside the candy industry, the firm gained national attention when Reagan was interviewed during the presidential campaign about his fondness for Jelly Bellies.
Within a year of the 1981 inauguration--where 7,500 pounds of Jelly Bellies were consumed--the company expanded from 10 employees to 160.
Due to open in October, the new, 100,000-square-foot facility will include a retail store, daily tours and Jelly Belly tastings. Said Fairfield City Councilman Ben Huber:
"How sweet it is."