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Beverly Hills Homes: Lost Legends and New Styles
Beverly Hills is full of historic buildings and homes, many related to the rise of Hollywood. Where else could you move into the former home of Hollywood royalty or opt to buy a house from a living legend?
With so much history in Beverly Hills and the city’s desirability in the luxury housing market there is renewed debate about how much history Beverly Hills should preserve.
The Beverly Hills City Council adopted historic preservation rules in 2012 after the city lost treasures like the Friars Club and Pickfair, the estate of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. City officials said they wanted to create regulations that balanced preserving historically significant homes with property owners’ rights and the new law was praised by preservationists.
“The city has demonstrated a real commitment to the historic places that make Beverly Hills unique,” said Linda Dishman, executive director of the L.A. Conservancy.
Spanish Revival, Art Deco, Hollywood Regency, and other quintessential Beverly Hills home styles are not everyone’s cup of tea. Some buyers want to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Beverly Hills from their own dream home, which has reopened the debate over preservation rules.
The 2012 law lengthened the public notice period for a demolition permit from 10 to 31 days for any building 45 years or older that was designed by locally important architects or designers. Also of note, a building cannot be placed on the preservation list just because of famous former owners.
Recently the Beverly Hills City Council approved more stringent requirements for considering a building historically significant and set higher standards for local architects to be considered “masters.” For advocates, the new rules mean only the best homes will be preserved, giving the city a chance to evolve.
“People today have very different lifestyles than they did 80 to 90 years ago,” said Beverly Hills resident Larry Larson in support of the new standards. “Many of these older homes are ‘functionally obsolete.’”
Opponents worry, though, that the tougher qualifications will make it easier for homes that should be saved to slip through the cracks.
“This is a big step backward for Beverly Hills,” said Adrian Scott Fine, Director of Advocacy at the Los Angeles Conservancy. “After making such great progress in preservation, the city has clearly reversed course with overly selective landmark criteria, a subjective process for opting out of designation that’s vulnerable to abuse and a lack of basic safeguards for historic places.”
Of course, preservation or total reconstruction aren’t the only options if your Beverly Hills home isn’t quite right for you. Redecorating and renovations can go a long way in bringing a decades old home into the modern era, or you could do something a little more offbeat.
Billionaire real estate entrepreneur Jeff Greene decided that rather than sell his 25-acre Beverly Hills estate, he would turn part of it into an organic farm.
“We’re going to grow tomatoes, potatoes, onions, corn,” Greene said of his plan. “We’re going to talk to a local farmer who is going to take the product and sell in a local market. And, of course, we’ll eat the organic foods. Our neighbor can walk through the gate and pick some, too.”