The Sunset Towers, a Hollywood landmark that was left half demolished and deteriorating after developers failed to turn its apartments into condos, is finally showing signs that somebody cares.
After nearly seven years of looking like "Beirut West," as former tenant/actor Werner Klemperer once described it, the 1931-vintage building is being readied for a party in December to signal its opening in February as one of four St. James Clubs. (Others are in London, Paris and Antigua.)
Site superintendent Mike Bradler said, "A month ago, there weren't even any walls inside, but now we're rolling along." You can see that as you pass the 14-story building at 8358 Sunset Blvd.
Dutch artist Peter Van Sambeek and interior designer David Becker are helping to restore the Art Deco look created by architect Leland A. Bryant. It was a look that appealed to such stars who lived there as Errol Flynn, Paulette Goddard and John Wayne. Wayne reputedly brought a cow to the penthouse so his guests could have fresh cream.
An Art Deco touch is also being given to a six-story annex that is being built, mostly for parking, next door.
When completed, the $50-million to $60-million project will have two restaurants, two deluxe penthouses, two bars, a lounge, library, fitness center, swimming pool, sauna and 75 hotel rooms (half are suites)--all for club members only.
Want to join? It costs $750 for initiation plus $750 for the year.
You win some, you lose some. A few blocks to the west of the old Sunset Towers and a block north of the Sunset Strip at 1220 Sunset Plaza Drive, the last pieces of another landmark, the Sunset Plaza Apartments, were bulldozed last week.
Designed and built by the late architect Paul Williams in 1938, the Spanish-Colonial style complex was home to many celebrities. Among them: Carole Lombard, Charles Farrell, Katharine Hepburn, Mitzi Gaynor, David Wolper and Bernadette Peters.
Actor Bob Forster was still living there when demolition crews wrecked the first units three years ago. Demolition was halted, for a spell, while legalities were questioned. A handful of tenants fought a long and hard but unsuccessful battle to save the two-story, 25-unit building.
Mark Brown, a deputy city attorney, said, "It's unfortunate (that the building was razed), but they (the owners) complied with the law. They applied for a demolition permit, the Cultural Heritage Commission's opportunity to delay demolition expired, and after that, the only thing standing in the way was an environmental impact report. It was prepared, and after many reviews, it was certified, and the city determined that preservation was unfeasible."
What will go in its place? The last word was a high-rise apartment building, but that was before the property was sold last January for about $2.3 million to an offshore entity.
Actress Jane Seymour, who sold her home in the hills above West Hollywood last March to super-model Cheryl Tiegs for $1.65 million, just sold a house in the Nichols Canyon area just north of Hollywood Boulevard to actress Michele Carey. That house was priced in the $300,000 range.
"This is the second house I sold for Jane," Jana Jones of Alvarez, Hyland & Young said, "and it's the second house I sold to Michele. Nine months ago, Michele bought another house, then sold that, and now she's bought this one."
Both actresses are dabbling in real estate, Jones admitted. "They buy houses and redo them, making the houses as cute as they are." Pressed about profits, Jones said, "Well, the last one Michele bought, she made quite a lot on."
In the meantime, Seymour is living comfortably in the Wallace Neff-designed Santa Barbara mansion she and her husband/business manager, David Flynn, bought after she sold the home to Tiegs.
Did you hear that the Bakkers sold their Palm Springs house to a baker?
Sam Apodaca, owner of Luv-ly Fruit Pies of Bell, and his wife, Teresa, bought the sprawling hacienda of fallen televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker for $600,000, says Rodger Hardy of the Desert Real Estate Report. The Bakkers tried to get $700,000 for it when they put it on the market in July.
The Apodacas bought it as a winter home and a place to get away. They also own homes in Las Vegas and Bell.
The Bakkers didn't own the house for long, by the way, and they apparently didn't make anything on it. From what Hardy says, the Bakkers purchased the house last February for $600,000. They moved to a $150,000 home in Tennessee.
What's in a name? Lots, if we got it wrong, and we did in the case of Judie Chroman, who had the Merrill Lynch Realty listing on that Pacific Palisades mountaintop that sold for $6.3 million. (Sandra Deel represented the buyers.)
It's also Arlene Carol, not Arlene Cook, who shares the $1-million listing on Liz Taylor's Puerto Vallarta house with Elaine Young of Alvarez, Hyland & Young.
TV personality Tom Ritter, brother of actor John Ritter, will be master of ceremonies Friday at a dinner to raise funds for expanding the emergency shelter of the Darrell McDaniel Independent Living Center in Van Nuys, which has such other celebrity support as Roy Campanella, Henry Winkler, Anson Williams and Steve Allen.
Patty Galen of the center said, "We have the only emergency shelter designed for persons with disabilities in Los Angles County." And it can only accommodate six persons!
The center hopes to double the capacity, using contractor Ivan Davis, who built the shelter and has served as a consultant to the city on architectural barriers.
"Part of the expansion will be prefabricated so we can keep costs down," she said. "Our goal is to raise $150,000."
The 7 p.m. dinner/dance will be held at the Airtel Plaza Hotel in Van Nuys. Tickets at $50 each can be purchased at the door.