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Harry Gesner, RIP

Hat tip to Rob Dawg for sending in the news that one of the most engaging architects of our time has passed away at age 97.  Harry lacked formal architecture training, but that didn’t stop him from designing 100+ houses.  My favorite is the Sandcastle (above), the house he built himself from reclaimed woods and other parts found at the junkyard. He lived there for the second half of his life, and he used to sit up in the tower to do his designing!

A couple of links to view his work:

https://www.pinterest.com/domester/harry-gesner-architect/

https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/harrygesner/

Here are quick interview questions plus a Vimeo film linked at the bottom with clips of the Sandcastle interior (at the 9:15-min mark) and his 1958 Mercedes Benz 190SL that he converted to electric power:

Modernism’s Maverick: A Conversation with Harry Gesner

Unlimited Density and Height

For those who saw the Carlsbad Train Redevelopment and wondered what other apartment houses (and affordable housing) are being built around town, check out this article:

https://www.kpbs.org/news/local/2022/04/14/in-san-diegos-quest-for-more-housing-unlimited-height-density-show-results

An excerpt:

Construction began this week at 901 West Washington St. in Mission Hills, where developer Soheil Nakhshab is building 54 studio apartments. He likens each unit’s design to a Swiss Army knife, with built-in tables and beds that fold up into the walls.

The project would not have been possible without Complete Communities, San Diego’s most aggressive attempt yet at encouraging high-density housing near public transit.

Approved by the City Council in November 2020, just one month before Mayor Kevin Faulconer and five councilmembers left office, Complete Communities allows developers to build apartments with unlimited density and height if they agree to set aside a much greater share of the homes as affordable housing than would otherwise be required.

The program is designed to withstand political and neighborhood opposition to individual projects, letting developers bypass the Planning Commission and City Council and get building permits directly from city staffers. The result has been swift approval of bigger projects with smaller, less-expensive homes.

Sites zoned for single-family homes are not eligible for Complete Communities, no matter how close they are to public transit.

Nakhshab said his project, which includes no off-street parking, would open up Mission Hills to more young professionals who don’t want the expense of car ownership and can’t afford the pricey single-family homes that dominate the neighborhood.

“What we’re trying to do is give them an opportunity to live in a prosperous, vibrant neighborhood with tons of public amenities at an affordable rate,” Nakhshab said.

The One Foreclosure

Even if this 12% ‘auction premium’ (commission) gets cut in half, every home seller and agent should take note of the commission structure at auctions – paid by the buyer!

The mega-mansion known as “The One” sold Thursday for $126 million at a bankruptcy auction. That’s a huge discount from its $295 million listing price, even with a 12 percent auction premium bringing the total to about $141 million.

The Bel-Air property set a new record for the costliest house sold at auction, but it fell well short of the California sales record set by venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, who purchased a Malibu estate for $177 million in October. The most ever spent on a U.S. residence was $238 million by hedge fund mogul Ken Griffin for a New York City penthouse in 2019. Several international sales have surpassed $300 million.

The buyer will be disclosed by March 8, when paperwork must be submitted to U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Deborah Saltzman, who will hold a hearing later this month on whether to approve the sale. It is possible that the winning bidder will be a limited liability company, a legal entity often used by the wealthy to hide their real estate purchases.

At least three dozen prospective buyers toured the 944 Airole Way property over the last couple of months, including billionaires from the Middle East, Asia and in California, The One’s listing agents have said.

The online auction opened Monday, with just a handful of participants bidding before the final gavel. Most of the action occurred in the last few minutes.

The price amounted to well less than the roughly $190 million in debt carried by the property, meaning that many creditors will take losses.

The largest single creditor is Los Angeles billionaire Don Hankey, who lent $106 million to the dream project of developer Nile Niami. The lender claims he is owed more than $130 million in secured debt, including money he provided in bankruptcy to repair and spiff up the property for sale.

Hankey, who previously said he might bid for the property if it was severely underpriced at the auction, said he did not make a bid. He said the price should allow him to recover the cash he put into the project, but added that he was surprised at how low the final price was.

“The guy who bought it just got a great deal. He’s got people willing to pay $50,000 a day just to do commercials and films,” he said.

The hilltop home, said to be 105,000 square feet, was marketed for $500 million several years ago while under construction but didn’t find a buyer. It was placed into bankruptcy in October after Hankey foreclosed on the $106 million in debt defaulted on by Crestlloyd, the limited liability company established by Niami that legally owns the project.

The One is just the latest L.A. trophy home to end up in bankruptcy following a blitz of costly development in the region’s glitzy hillsides and coastal communities.

Concierge Auctions, a luxury online auction house that handled The One’s sale, last year set an auction record when it sold a Beverly Park home for $51 million — but that was still more than $100 million off its original asking price.

How much The One would go for has been something of a parlor game in the luxury real estate community, with some thinking it is the ultimate trophy home and others declaring it a white elephant.

The property includes a 4,000-square-foot guesthouse, a sky deck with cabanas, a private theater, a full-service spa, a nightclub and even an outdoor running track and moat. It has 21 bedrooms and 42 full bathrooms.

Link to Article

Read the YouTube comments for a chuckle!

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