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Catalina Island Buzzing With Activity

June 22, 1986|RUTH RYON | Times Staff Writer

Catalina is hopping with real estate news this week.

The first item concerns Ida Courts, now being called Ida Gardens.

Built about 60 years ago, after chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. bought the island in 1919 for $3 million, the Ida Courts has been sold for $1.6 million.

Robert and Virginia Raine, who have a home on Catalina as well as in Rancho Palos Verdes, bought it from two partners from Pasadena. The Raines own coin-operated laundries throughout California, but this is their first hotel.

Through the years, the hotel hosted a succession of famous people, and lately, some character actors stayed there, said Jim Lehr of the 65-year-old realty firm Davis-Baker Co. Davis-Baker was founded in Pasadena but was relocated by Harrison (Bud) Baker, son of one of the founders and 1978 president of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, to Catalina about seven years ago. Lehr represented the buyers.

The hotel, totaling about 22,000 square feet, is what he termed "old California court construction" with about 26 guest rooms, an appliance store and printing, real estate and accounting offices in 22 cottage-like buildings. It's in the town of Avalon, about a block from the beach.

The studio to three-bedroom units rent for $50 to $150 a night. All have kitchens, but only five have private baths. "For the rest, you have to walk down the hall to the restroom or the shower, but by the end of the summer, we hope to have all with private baths," a desk clerk said.

Ida Courts was the second largest sale, except for the island itself, in the island's history. The first was the Paradise Island Inn, bought last November and scheduled for a grand opening on July 1 after renovations. "It was almost a $4-million deal, including the construction loan," owner/developer Bill Moller said.

Moller and his partners demolished 15 of the 34 units on the 1.6-acre parcel and are building 60 additional rooms on the property, which they renamed the Catalina Canyon Hotel. A limited number of rooms have been available on weekends during construction.

When completed, the 20-year-old resort, in the foothills of Avalon, will also have a remodeled restaurant, health spa and swimming pool.

"We own Helitrans too," Moller noted, so he's planning some weekend packages using the helicopter and/or Catalina Express boat service. Per-night room rates range from $120 to $150.

Last but not least, remember that Daon project at Hamilton Cove on Catalina? Actually, plans to build at Hamilton Cove started in 1970 by the Balboa Bay Club of Newport Beach, but Daon got into it a few years back, before the recession.

Since then, things have been publicly quiet, but Daon--now known as BCED (Bell Canada Enterprises Development)--has finished the 22 units in Phase 1 and plans to built another 56 units there this winter. In all, 330 condos, called villas, will occupy 33 of the 130 acres of the ocean-front site about a mile from Avalon.

All but two of the 22 units are sold, but 10 were purchased by an investment group to be rented out at $200 to $325 a night.

Hamilton Cove Resort was created to handle the rentals, and Brent Glissmeyer was brought in to run the rental company. Glissmeyer is the fellow who opened and managed the Stein Erickson Lodge at Deer Valley, Utah.

Hamilton Cove has lots of mooring space, by the way, and that's great news to boaters who have been forced to camp because of the limited number of buoys near Avalon.

It's been almost a year since the Beverly Hills mansion once owned by Saudi Arabian Sheik Mohammed al-Fassi was demolished, and now the site--on the northwest corner of Alpine Drive and Sunset Boulevard--is on the market again.

"I just put the signs up and have had many calls on it already," Bruce Nelson of Asher Dann & Associates in Beverly Hills, the listing broker, said.

No wonder. Last we heard, developer Cesar Lopez Jr. and his Custom Space Builders was set to build a 15,000-square-foot home on part of the 3.58-acre property for some unnamed celebrity, believed to be Joan Collins (who in May bought elsewhere). Asked about this, Lopez said he was surprised that the site is for sale and is still hoping to build a house or houses on it.

The city just gave its final approval for a lot split, and the owner, whom Nelson described as "some very wealthy people from Florida," decided, he said, that it was not economically feasible to develop the property. "I told them that for the amount it would cost, it wasn't worth the effort.

"They'd have to get astronomical prices for the houses to make it lucrative from a developer's point of view," Nelson explained, "but from a user's point of view, it makes tremendous sense, because there is no land like it in Beverly Hills.

"And cutting it up in two pieces would devalue the property." However, it is for sale in whole or in part: $8.5 million for the entire site or $4.75 million for one part, $3.75 million for the other.

Before it sold to the current owners, the property--with its fire-gutted 68-year-old mansion--was listed for $10 million by the sheik's ex-wife, who won it as part of her divorce settlement.

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