Original article published by Town & Country
Written by Candace Jackson
A Mediterranean mansion in Beverly Hills. A modern glass box in the Hollywood Hills. While apartment living has long been the way in cities from New York to Paris and beyond the Los Angeles dream home has always been a house.
But now ambitious developers are taking that dream vertical, betting on strong demand for luxurious condos from buyers interested in more traditional city living. Under construction now: a Four Seasons Private Residences, the brand's first stand-alone residential development in North America, and the Century Plaza, two 43-story condo towers attached to the Century Plaza Fairmont Hotel in Century City. A Mandarin Oriental Residences in Beverly Hills is also in the works.
One of the most anticipated new projects is 8899 Beverly, a 10-story building in West Hollywood that has 40 condos, each with a Vitrocsa glass wall that opens to the outdoors. The building is within walking distance of Rodeo Drive and West Hollywood's nightlife.
"It's still true that 95 percent of the people who buy in L.A. want single-family homes," says Tyer Siegel, a developer with Townscape Partners, the company behind 899 Beverly. "But we're creating a product that bridges the gap between condo and single-family home living." He started by hiring architecture from Olson Kundig, which oversaw everything down to the front door handles, which Siegel describes as "pieces of jewelry."
Developers say condos cater to those looking for security and less maintenance — and fill an underserved niche in the market. Of course, vertical giving isn't new to Los Angeles. Downtown, there are dozens of apartment buildings, and the fence Wilshire Corridor in Westwood has long been a canyon of high-rise homes. In 2009 developer Related Co. built the Century, a 42-story luxury tower in Century City where Candy Spelling paid $35 million for the penthouse, still the record for a condo sold in L.A.
But Siegel says the market is evolving. Today's buyers want to be in buildings that are integrated in walkable neighborhoods, and he's confident that a pandemic-induced dip in demand for condos is temporary.
One-bedroom units at 8899 start in the mid-$2 million range, and two penthouses, each with 2,000 square feet of terrace space, will ask upward of $100 million as a combined unit. Agent Fredrik Eklund says they'll feel like single-family "compounds" in the sky.
Jill Epstein, a broker with Nourmand & Associates, says that while the L.A. market has been hot, with buyers relocating from cities like New York and Chicago, condos remain a tougher sell. Still, Mauricio Umansky, co-founder of real estate brokerage the Agency, says demand is returning. He's counseling developers to include amenities like roof decks and private restaurants to appeal to buyers in a post-pandemic world.
Agents and developers agree that easy access to nature is a the top of everyone's list. At Beverly Hills' 16-unit Gardenhouse, designed by MAD Architects, the units are set behind what is described as the largest living wall in the U.S. Each condo opens to a large private outdoor space. (Starting price: $3.3 million) "It's not your grandmother's condominium," says Don Heller, of Compass, who is handling sales. "That's not to say your grandmother wouldn't be very happy there."