Beverly Hills offers so many distinctive homes designed by noted architects, many tied to Hollywood’s Golden Age. But architectural and cultural heritage has proven no match for the nouveaux riches of Beverly Hills. Some of the older homes lack the style and amenities today’s luxury buyers want — great rooms, entertainment centers, restaurant-quality kitchens and vast bedroom suites. Rooms in even the most opulent older Beverly Hills homes can feel cramped by modern high-end standards. For today’s luxury buyer, remodeling is unappealing. They want to maximize home size, often reducing outdoor space in favor of more bedrooms and more expansive living areas. The tear-down phenomenon is hardly new. Beverly Hills residents have for decades razed houses that earlier generations considered grand to make way for more lavish residences. Many structures associated with celebrities or designed by noted architects were among those toppled by bulldozers, including John Lautner’s Shusett House. The recent demolition of a North Roxbury Drive residence where Gershwin lived, wrote and entertained Hollywood royalty. And aftern the near miss of a modernist Richard Neutra, Beverly Hills finally got serious about preserving its architectural legacy, the city enacted an ordinance early last year, and quickly enacted tax breaks to foster neighborhood preservation. The city is also conducting a citywide survey to identify potentially significant houses.
October 2, 2013 By