The Duke and Duchess of Kent are expected to become honorary citizens of Orange County on Thursday, when they are due to dedicate Marina Hills, a 2400-home community in Laguna Niguel of Taylor Woodrow Homes California Ltd., a member of the London-based Taylor Woodrow Group. (Taylor Woodrow just celebrated 50 years of operations in the United States.)
The duke--first cousin to Queen Elizabeth--and duchess are also in California in connection with the nationwide "Best of Britain" retail promotion sponsored by J. C. Penney Inc. in cooperation with the British Overseas Trade Board. The duke is vice chairman of the board.
His royal highness will also be honored at a luncheon in Los Angeles later this week of the British American Chamber of Commerce.
Americans probably know the famous couple best as presenters of the men's and women's trophies at Wimbledon. The duke is president of the All-England Lawn Tennis Club, the governing body of Wimbledon.
It's one thing to buy an island. It's something else to buy an island that can be towed by an ocean-going barge anywhere in the world.
That's just one of the many ideas Paul Kruisbrink, a Sausalito real estate broker, has for Forbes Kiddoo's man-made island, which is anchored in San Francisco Bay.
"Kiddoo, a wealthy bachelor, built the island five years ago as a fantastic party house," Rich Goss, a San Rafael publicist, said. "It has palm trees, a beach, and a residential structure that goes under water with big glass windows to see the fish."
Now the 100-by-50-foot "island," which is taxed as a boat and weighs an estimated 700 tons, is on the market for $2 million.
"It could be a corporate retreat, meeting place or board room," Kruisbrink suggested. "It could be a private haven for a wealthy businessman, rock or movie star. It could be a hotel annex and rented out for $2,000 to $4,000 a night. It could be used as a sales and corporate sales office to sell time shares."
Using Kiddoo's island as a prototype, Kruisbrink envisions a series of man-made "Nautilus Islands," each built at a cost of $450,000 and finished within 90 days of being ordered. Then each island would be divided into four units that are time-shared and sold for $30,000 to $40,000 a week.
Who said real estate people are unimaginative?
When a Hollywood Hills house designed by renowned architect John Lautner was on a recent 1950s tour sponsored by the Los Angeles Conservancy, it made owner Jim Curley's rehabilitation efforts personally rewarding, but he is stuck with some debts.
"That's why I'm selling the house," the 45-year-old bachelor explained. "I borrowed money and sacrificed other projects to fix the house up. I borrowed about $60,000, and that's about $85,000 with interest. (The house cost $80,000 to build about 1950.)
"I wish I could donate the house to a school and live in it all of my life, or I wish it was like Europe, where they give low-interest money to fix up such houses, but government grants like that don't seem to be available here."
The part-time actor is looking to sell his one-of-a-kind, redwood-and-glass home for $285,000.
It only has one bedroom and 1,100 square feet, but the house was designed for musician Foster Carling (who wrote for guitarist Les Paul and singer Mary Ford) in the shape of a musical note. The house also has a living room wall that is on hinges and can be pushed out to reveal a view of the San Fernando Valley. The other side of the house looks out on downtown Los Angeles.
Curley bought the house in 1977 from the estate of the original owner. Before that, Curley owned a home designed by architect Richard Neutra. Where will he move if he sells now? "I'll find a Schindler or some other architectural treasure that needs a lot of work and start all over."