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Home, paparazzi-free home

The sales pitch for a luxury high-rise condo project in Westwood stresses that units are photographer-proof.

August 19, 2008|Harriet Ryan and Joanna Lin | Times Staff Writers

Forget infinity pools and wine cellars. The developers of a luxury condominium high-rise in Westwood have come up with a new way to entice wealthy buyers: paparazzi-proof living.

The Carlyle Residences, a 24-story tower under construction on Wilshire Boulevard, bills itself as the first building specifically designed to thwart prying lenses.

Promotional materials for the property, which is set to open next year, promise round-the-clock patrols by "Israeli-trained VIP" security guards, private elevators that open directly into apartments, and high hedges that shield the swimming pool and yoga lawn from shutterbugs. Even the shape of the tower, a crescent, is advertised as an anti-paparazzi device. According to the developer, it minimizes views into the Carlyle from neighboring buildings.

Thomas Elliott, chief operating officer for Elad Properties West, said the company was responding to complaints from celebrities and elected leaders about aggressive tabloid photographers.

"We are reaching out to the Hollywood community to do what we can to ensure their safety and security," he said.

It remains unclear whether any of the Carlyle's so-called anti-paparazzi measures will actually work -- or whether their pitch is drawing any of Hollywood's elite. Elliott declined to say whether any celebrities had endorsed the project with their checkbooks. (Prices range from $2.9 million to $20 million for one of four units on the penthouse floor.)

"We are very discreet when it comes to our buyers," he said, adding, "I can say there are some high-profile people looking at the building."

He said the developer relied on advice from agencies that specialize in providing security for celebrities while mapping out the building. Among those features designed to ensure privacy is the confidentiality agreement -- a Hollywood staple. The Carlyle will require them from everyone who works in the building.

Among those who make their living by chasing the rich and famous, news of the building's paparazzi-free design brought either laughter or eye-rolling.

"A waste of advertising," said Giles Harrison, a paparazzo who has worked in Los Angeles for 14 years. "Paparazzi don't go into buildings to get shots. They wait until people go out and about. I have yet to see a paparazzi shot that came from the inside of a private residence."

Christian Zimmerman, a tabloid photographer for five years, said colleagues would simply park on the street and wait until celebrities left the building.

"Then they will follow their cars and it will be like any other day in the field," he said.

The Carlyle isn't the only building to protect against paparazzi.

The Sierra Towers, on the western end of the Sunset Strip, has long been housing celebrities and high-powered names.

Paparazzi stake out the building "at all times," says Russ Filice, a Sotheby's Realtor who sells the tower's units and is also a resident.

"They always try [to get in], but they have not been successful," he said. "There's too many barriers."

The building has several layers of security stationed inside and out to shield its 136 residents from camera-wielding onlookers, he said.

With garages that lead straight to private elevators for residences, lobby elevators that shut down for unwelcome guests and many dwellers hiring additional security detail for their apartments alone, breaching the tower just doesn't happen, Filice says.

Although arguably "paparazzi-proof" as well, Sierra Towers won't market the building as such, Filice said.

"I think it's an interesting slant, an interesting marketing concept," he said. "If we wanted to use the word 'paparazzi-proof' we certainly could. . . . But it's not something we'd even let them know, that we're that secure. Let them find out on their own."

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harriet.ryan@latimes.com

joanna.lin@latimes.com

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