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$75 Million Could Land You a Nice Chunk of Bel-Air

One broker calls it `wishful thinking' that the 12.4-acre parcel will be sold for that much.

October 06, 2006|Roger Vincent | Times Staff Writer

Even at $75 million, it doesn't come with a house, pool or anything else, for that matter.

But a group of Century City investment bankers are hoping that their 12.4-acre terraced hillside lot in Bel-Air will fetch that amount -- even in a cooling real estate market.

The parcel, across from the Hotel Bel-Air and less than a mile north of Sunset Boulevard and UCLA, was assembled over nine years by flamboyant movie producer Steve Bing. He tore down homes on the land once owned by such show business luminaries as Barry Manilow, Red Buttons and Kim Novak.

Current neighbors include billionaire Robert Addison Day, founder of money management firm Trust Co. of the West and chairman of the W.M. Keck Foundation, and home-building mogul Bruce Karatz, chief executive of KB Home.

"We suspect it will go to a rich individual or small club of two or three rich individuals," said real estate broker Robert Beeney of Greenwich Group International in San Francisco, who is representing the sellers.

They bought the parcel from Bing last year for $48 million and hope now to "flip" it for a profit.

But to some brokers in the rarified strata of mega-million-dollar home sales, the offering has a whiff of desperation. They note that an effort to quietly sell the parcel by invitation to subdividers failed to produce a buyer, prompting the owners to cast a wider net by seeking bids starting today through an auction format more common in commercial property sales.

In a cooling real estate market, even the richest buyers have become more discerning, they said.

"Most of the high-end brokers feel we've reached a point in the cycle where both sales and prices are going down," said Cecelia Waeschle of Sotheby's International Realty in Malibu. "This happens every five years or so."

"It's wishful thinking" to hope for $75 million, said Beverly Hills broker Bruce Nelson of Bruce Nelson & Associates, who noted that some uphill neighbors would actually be able to look down on an estate.

And competition is on the way. A similar-sized parcel in nearby Beverly Hills -- once owned by the Shah of Iran, Merv Griffin and the late Herbalife founder Mark Hughes -- is about to hit the market.

"There will be six billionaires living up there," Nelson said.

Still, all the sellers need is for one wealthy buyer unfettered by concerns about interest rates and market trends to be smitten with "The Park at Stone Canyon," as the sellers grandly refer to the lot.

Joyce Rey of Coldwell Banker's upscale Previews International has seen some big spenders in action: "If they find what they want, they buy it, regardless of the circumstances."

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