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The Post Office Area: Almost Beverly Hills, for a Lot Less Money

October 08, 1989|RUTH RYON and Jack Smith | Times Staff Writer

His client was a movie director, realtor Jack Hupp said, and was adamant about living in Beverly Hills.

The film maker had found a house he liked, Hupp said, but was so concerned that it have a Beverly Hills address that he made it a contingency in his offer.

Hupp discovered to his alarm that the house was not within the city limits of Beverly Hills, but found with some quick checking that it was in the Beverly Hills Post Office area, which means that it has a Beverly Hills mailing address.

"So the deal went through," Hupp said.

That was 18 months ago, and now the "Post Office" or "BHPO" as it's called by realtors and residents, has become what David Perry of Fred Sands Estates says is "a hot ticket."

People are increasingly buying in the area for two reasons, said John Aaroe of Douglas Properties: "First, because of the Beverly Hills name, and second, because it's less expensive than Beverly Hills, which it adjoins."

The BHPO has the same 90210 ZIP code as part of Beverly Hills but is just outside city limits, generally extending from a few blocks north of Sunset Boulevard to Mulholland Drive and Coldwater Canyon to Benedict Canyon Drive. (The BHPO is not to be confused with "Beverly Hills Adjacent," which is used in real estate ads for other areas skirting the city.)

The Beverly Hills Post Office makes 3,000 residential deliveries in the BHPO area, 17,000 in the city, Postmaster Koula Fuller said. Realtors estimate the geographical size of the BHPO as about one-third the size of the 5-mile-square city.

The Post Office area is also a hot market because it is what realtors describe as "countrified," and it has many more view properties and much more available land than Beverly Hills.

"The Post Office area has become as desirable, depending on the property, as Beverly Hills," Perry said, "and it's more desirable than some parts of Bel-Air."

Added Jeff Hyland of Alvarez, Hyland & Young:

"I'm sure there are people who prefer it (the BHPO) to Bel-Air and even Holmby (Hills), because you don't use Bel-Air or Holmby as a mailing address--you use Los Angeles. So there is a cachet or a plus to living in the Post Office."

"Many people buy in the Post Office because they can't afford Beverly Hills prices," said Beverly Hills broker Mike Silverman. Added Bruce Nelson of Asher Dann & Associates: "Prices drop dramatically once you're out of Beverly Hills."

"You can still buy a house in the Post Office, though it's a cantilevered tear-down, for $249,000," said Cecelia Waeschle of Merrill Lynch/Rodeo Realty.

By comparison, the cheapest house in Beverly Hills is "a two-bedroom, one-bath with a one-car garage just east of the civic center at $550,000," Hyland said.

The highest asking price for a house in Beverly Hills is $30 million, while the highest in the BHPO is $7.8 million, and several homes have been sold there in the last few months in the $5-million to $7-million category.

Among them was an old house that actress Barbra Streisand purchased for nearly $6 million, with plans to tear it down, and a new house industrialist Sir Gordon White acquired for about $7 million. His house is in a subdivision called Beverly Park Estates, where entertainer Pia Zadora is buying a new house for nearly $6.7 million, and producer Jon Peters took title to another new house at $6 million.

Mike Koven, a Westside Bekins moving consultant, said, "Certain areas of the BHPO are known to be celebrity enclaves, like upper Benedict Canyon."

Among the celebrities living in the Post Office area are Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Don Johnson, Sylvester Stallone, Roger Moore, Kate Jackson, Jacqueline Bisset, Charlton Heston, Stefanie Powers, Juliet Mills, Donna Mills, Eddie Murphy, Jean Simmons, Barry Bostwick and Ann-Margret.

Post Office residents range, Hyland said, "from nobodys to well-knowns," and include "people who bought when houses were selling at $50,000 or $75,000 and can't afford to move . . . people who had large homes but wanted smaller houses with less maintenance . . . and even first-time buyers," he said, to yuppies and other professionals, movie stars and moguls, willing to spend millions on a residence.

"More regular folks than celebrities live in the Post Office," Hupp said, "but a lot of celebrities live there because there is more seclusion as you get into the hills than there is in the Beverly Hills flats, where the tour buses go."

That's what prompted Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward to move years ago to the Post Office, he noted.

Hupp remembers getting a phone call from the actress at 11:30 p.m., saying she wanted to sell her Beverly Hills house "because some guy knocked on her door just before she called, asking for her husband's autograph."

Hupp then sold them a house on a quiet street in the BHPO, where they lived a number of years before moving to Connecticut.

Not all BHPO streets are quiet; Coldwater and Benedict canyons are often clogged with traffic.

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