Redone 1930s Spanish in Franklin Hills seeks $1.65M

Posted · Add Comment
A step-down dining room with coved ceilings and arched doorways.The dining room. | Photos by Cameron Carothers, courtesy of Joey Kiralla and Michelle St. Claire Zsakany

Meticulously restored

This Spanish Revival-inspired house in Los Feliz’s Franklin Hills neighborhood offers many of the currently cool home decor tropes—every wall is white; geometric bathroom tile; teal kitchen cabinets—in an undeniably pleasing way.

3831 Aloha Street opens to coved ceilings, arched doorways, and light wood floors. The whole 1931-built home has undergone a comprehensive restoration (down to the doorknobs and hardware) by design and development firm Habhouse.

Two of the home’s three bedrooms have access to outdoor space; the front bedroom’s terrace opens out to a large area on top of the garage and the master bedroom opens to a deck behind the house. The backyard also offers space for dining or a fire pit or both.

As the neighborhood’s name implies, Franklin Hills is wonderfully hilly, but the house’s excellent location means a walk down to Hyperion doesn’t feel like an alpine trek.

The house is listed for $1.65 million with Joey Kiralla and Michelle St. Claire-Zsakany of Sotheby’s International Realty.

 The living room has a statement fireplace and good flow into the kitchen.
A kitchen with white counters and teal cabinets with gold drawer pulls.
Cool stone counters and teal cabinets give the kitchen a fun vibe.
A bathroom with a freestanding bathrub, geometric patterned floor tiles, and a vanity with two sinks.
Double sinks and a freestanding tub make the master bathroom a little retreat.
A view of hillsides in Silver Lake dotted with houses, as seen from a deck with two chairs.
The view from the deck outside the master bedroom.
A photo of a Spanish-style house fronted by a staircase and with a terrace over the garage.
The house is set beck from the street—a nice dose of privacy.


The real-life tower that made ‘Die Hard’

Posted · Add Comment
A Die Hard movie poster shows a close-up of actor Bruce Willis’s face next to exploding skyscraper. Sparkly city lights at night are on the right.Nakatomi tower—Fox Plaza in real-life—was so popular that in movie posters it was given equal space with star Bruce Willis. | 20th Century Fox Film Corp./courtesy Everett Collection

Nakatomi tower is really Fox Plaza in Century City, an example of 1980s power architecture at its finest

It’s Christmas Eve. As most of Los Angeles is tucked in bed waiting for Santa, hundreds of FBI and Los Angeles Police Department officers swarm around the gleaming Nakatomi tower, a half-built example of 1980s power architecture at its finest. Suddenly, an explosion rips open the roof, and bloodied and barefoot New York Police Department officer John McClane propels down the building in a hail of glass and debris, falling past the sleek mirrored windows. The fire from the explosion lights up the LA skyline.

Of course, this isn’t reality, but the culminating scene in the 1988 Christmas-action Die Hard. And the man jumping off the building isn’t named John McClane, nor is it actor Bruce Willis, it is stuntman Ken Bates. And Nakatomi tower, well that’s really Fox Plaza in Century City, the building that became a star.

“There’s not an angle—literal or figurative—of the building that the movie doesn’t capitalize on, whether it’s the striking architecture standing tall relative to its Century City neighbors or the nooks and crannies of stairwells and elevator shafts,” says Alonso Duralde, film critic and author of Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas.

It’s not surprising that Fox Plaza was destined for celluloid glory. The very neighborhood it stands in was once the backlot of 20th Century Fox.

In 1959, Spyros Skouras, the head of the ailing Fox Studios, was looking for new ways to make money. It was decided that 176 acres of the studio’s extensive backlot would be developed by New York real estate dynamo William Zeckendorf. A modern “city within a city” was planned, and the groundbreaking was a star-studded event. According to the Los Angeles Times:

William Zeckendorf Sr., flanked by Mary Pickford and a bevy of politicians and press agents, gathered in front of a make-believe Western saloon for an old-fashioned ground- breaking. After a round of speeches in which Zeckendorf labeled the development “an oasis in the midst of a great city,” a bulldozer demolished the facade of a small shack on Tombstone Street. Then, according to one account, “Everyone went to lunch.”

An archival image of an old Western movie set. Wood-clad buildings line a dusty road. One is an opera house.Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
The back lot of 20th Century-Fox Studio. This set stood approximately where the Century Plaza Hotel was built in Century City.

The project soon proved difficult, earning the derisive nickname “Century Silly.” Zeckendorf was forced to declare bankruptcy, and the development of Century City was saved primarily by the Aluminum Co. of America, which developed modern industrial parks and office complexes in the community, showcasing its sleek aluminum building materials.

While Century City had developed into a convenient, upscale commercial center by the 1980s, it still needed a signature architectural achievement. Enter the brash, larger than life billionaire Marvin “Mr. Wildcatter” Davis, who had purchased 20th Century Fox in 1981. In the early 1980s, he decided to build a signature skyscraper in Century City, which would perfectly encapsulate the bigger-is-better business ethos of the decade.

The failing firm of the prolific modernist architect William Pereira (designer of such iconic buildings as the TransAmerica Pyramid in San Francisco and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) was tapped to design the massive tower. In increasingly ill-health, Pereira hired two young Harvard graduates—Scott Johnson and William Fain—and quickly gave them immense responsibilities. In a 1991 interview with the LA Times, Johnson recalled the chaos he encountered when he took the job in 1983:

The good news was that a month earlier the firm had won the commission to design a skyscraper in Century City for wealthy oilman Marvin Davis, then the owner of 20th Century Fox. The bad news was that the firm seemed to be sinking faster than Johnson had been told. He was not sure the firm would stay in business long enough to finish Fox Plaza for Davis.

Much to the consternation of older members of the firm, Johnson and Fain were handpicked by Pereira to lead it into the future. Plans for the tower began in earnest and continued after Pereira’s death in 1985. The 34-story high-rise was designed with executive egos in mind. According to USA Today, 16-corner offices were constructed on every floor, instead of the customary four.

When Fox Plaza debuted in the fall of 1987, the reviews were mixed. Sam Hall Kaplan of the LA Times penned a piece titled “Nice Style, Poor Design,” and opened it with a compliment:

Not another boxy, boring building in the severe International style, the Fox Plaza is clad in pink-toned granite and gray tinted glass and tilted and angled at the upper floors to subtly reflect light. The building, styled by R. Scott Johnson of Pereira Associates in an updated Moderne fashion, looks good, especially at a distance and when compared to most of the other office towers in the area. Even the garage with its banded concrete block and arched entry is distinctive looking.

But Kaplan went on to decry the flash over function evident throughout the building, expressing his disappointment in the lobby, landscaping, and other public spaces. To another LA Times journalist, Leon Whitestone, it was “a brilliant but isolated act of architecture with its ambiguous connection to its surroundings. The building, some observers say, seems unable to decide whether its front door is on the street or at the back, facing the parking garage.”

Fox Plaza is wrapped in pink-toned granite and glass.

But not every review has been so harsh. The tower has been compared to a church spire towering over a small village, a beacon of power and prestige. “The building is placed on axis with the middle of Olympic Boulevard, so that it become a giant obelisk or column at the end of a grand avenue,” writes design critic Aaron Betsky. “The parking garage is tucked into the hill, giving you the impression of a kind of rampart protecting Century City.”

It was the building’s looming, isolated presence, and the fact that it was brand new, and therefor still pretty empty, that made it the perfect location for Die Hard, which was a 20th Century Fox production.

During filming, which started in the fall of 1987, director John McTiernan used every architectural and structural feature of the building for dramatic effect, including the air conditioning ducts, unfinished floors, elevator shafts, and the electrical closets—“the real guts of the building,” said studio spokesperson Sharon Holliday to the Toronto Star.

Filming consisted primarily of night shoots at Fox Plaza and on a nearby soundstage at Fox Studios. Many special effects were done using a meticulous 25-foot miniature of Fox Plaza. The streets of Century City were also used to great effect. “We could fly the helicopter down the main streets of Century City and then make a right turn, but we weren’t allowed to get within 200 feet of the building,” explained Richard Edlund, head of visual effects, to American Cinematographer.

“The building might, in some ways, be looked at as a generic 1980s skyscraper, but the movie finds a personality in its distinctive angles and sheer size,” says Duralde, the film critic. “Without the movie, this might become another LA building clearly tethered to a particular period or style of architecture, but it is now and forever Nakatomi Plaza.”

Die Hard opened in July 1988, and quickly became a runaway hit. The tower was so popular that new posters were designed giving it more or equal space with Willis. “[We] realized we had a kind of action epic on our hands—and that the building… was a star too,” 20th Century Fox marketing president Tom Sherak told the LA Times.

Die Hard, a tale of terrorists and murder, was a real-life nightmare for those protecting Fox Plaza’s most famous tenant. In 1988, out-going President Ronald Reagan’s good buddy Marvin Davis told him that prime penthouse office space was available in the new Fox Plaza. The president, who was planning on retiring nearby to a $2.5 million pink stucco estate in Bel-Air, declined the government’s drab office space at the Westwood Federal Office Tower, according to a 1989 article in Newsday.

Reagan had long been a fan of the Century Plaza Hotel, and Fox Plaza seemed a perfect fit for him, but not for the Secret Service. “Great, you just picked a building where there’s been a movie made about how terrorists can blow it up,” one agent quipped in The Hollywood Reporter.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation leased a 5,000-square-foot penthouse office suite for around $135,000 a month. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan also rented an office next door. As decorators descended on the penthouse to make it ready for the Reagans, they found black cartridges left over from the filming of Die Hard. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Reagan was an enthusiastic new tenant of Fox Plaza:

Reagan was so eager to start his new life that he showed up at the office on his first day back in California (where he was governor from 1967 to 1975). The phones didn’t work properly, and he ended up playing receptionist to the surprise of incoming callers: “Ronald Reagan’s office, Ronald Reagan speaking.”

Reagan settled into a new routine. Every day the Secret Service drove him to the penthouse, where he worked on his memoirs and the design of his presidential library. He also met with guests, including President George Bush, Lew Wasserman, Tom Cruise, Mother Teresa, Bill Clinton, Billy Graham, and Margaret Thatcher. According to one staffer, quoted in The Hollywood Reporter, Reagan loved the offices’ amazing views: “Every day when he came in, he would look to the west to see if the fog had burned off and if he could see the ocean.”

A movie still from Die Hard. Bruce Willis, covered in blood and sweat, propels down a building. City lights sprawl out in the background.20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy Everett Collection
Die Hard director John McTiernan used every architectural and structural feature of still under-construction Fox Plaza for dramatic effect, including the air conditioning ducts, unfinished floors, elevator shafts, and the electrical closets.

By May 1989, USA Today was calling Fox Plaza a “power address” with the highest per-square-foot price in all of Los Angeles. “You’ve got corporate raiders—oil billionaire Marvin Davis and Alfred Checchi are two floors apart,” reported USA Today. “The two are rivals for Northwest Airlines. You’ve got politicos—Ronald Reagan is on the top floor. You’ve got big-wig L.A. law firms, and of course, you’ve got 20th Century Fox, the building’s namesake.

There was a real-life bomb scare at Fox Plaza in 1994, when a suspicious package, labeled “this is a bomb threat,” was delivered to the building. Seven floors were evacuated before it was discovered the package was actually a screen play about a human bomb, which an unthinking screenwriter had sent to tenant Davis Entertainment.

Fox Plaza continued as a power address throughout the 1990s, even as Reagan, its most famous resident, slipped into the fog of Alzheimer’s. In 1997, Davis came back into the picture when he repurchased Fox Plaza for $253 million. Davis had kept offices in the building since its opening. In a 2005 issue of Vanity Fair, a reporter reflecting on Davis’s death recalled meeting with “Mr. Wildcatter” in the office in 2000:

He sat elevated above me behind a massive desk on a pedestal in his vast, peach-colored chandelier-lit office in Fox Plaza, the 34-story office building on the Avenue of the Stars in Century City, California. Davis’s desk was a replica of the Denver oil baron Blake Carrington’s on Dynasty, the 1980s TV series, which was said to have been inspired by Davis back when he dominated Rocky Mountain oil. Davis had built Fox Plaza—which was featured in Die Hard, the 1988 Bruce Willis movie—later sold it for a $50 million profit, then bought it back for $253 million, only to sell it again for an $80 million profit.

The buyer was the Irvine Co., headed by Donald Bren. In 2001, it was announced that the Reagan Foundation would not renew its lease. “There’s a lot of history here. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have such a large space when he doesn’t come here anymore,” chief of staff Joanne Drake said in the Chicago Tribune, explaining the former president had not been to his office in more than a year.

Today, Fox Plaza continues to be a power address with political ties. Former California Gov. Pete Wilson now has an office there. Goldman Sachs is there, as is the Broad Foundation, Fox Sports, and Fox Entertainment Group. It has also become a mecca for fans of Die Hard, which spawned four sequels and made Bruce Willis a star.

“When you walk into the actual building, it’s a little surprising how familiar so much of it is, from the circular driveway to the elevator banks,” Duralde says. “And when you’re on the Fox lot, it’s impossible not to look up and see the mighty building towering above you without thinking of Die Hard.”

In 2013, at a 25th anniversary celebration of the movie, Willis looked up at the Fox Plaza while talking to a USA Today reporter. “It all started over here. It was cold out, like now. And I spent a lot of time on that roof,” he said. “Filming went by so quickly, not unlike the last 25 years. We made a great movie out of a building.”


Homey Topanga cottage built in 1923 asks $699K

Posted · Add Comment
A white house with a tiny front entryway enclosed by a white picket fence

Cozy right up to the stone fireplace

This sweet little cottage in Topanga is nothing if not cozy. It looks like the perfect place to while away a chilly winter morning, perhaps while plucking away at an acoustic guitar or writing a poem on the typewriter that now sits in the living room.

The 868-square-foot residence was built in 1923 and features planked wood ceilings, some nice built-in shelving, and a romantic stone fireplace flanked by casement windows.

The bedroom contains an en-suite bathroom and connects to a large wooden patio with space for outdoor seating. Perched above the street, most of the home sits atop a bonus room that could be used as an office or studio.

The house is situated on a 1,200-square-foot lot at 922 Old Topanga Road, shaded by surrounding trees and fronted by a classic white picket fence.

Asking price is $699,000.

A white house with a tiny front entryway enclosed by a white picket fence
The multi-level house sits above the street on Old Topanga Road.
A kitchen with tile floors, white cabinetry, and simple wooden shelving
The airy kitchen looks into the open living and dining area.
A room with white walls, a pair of windows, and a wood-planked ceiling
The single bedroom has a pitched ceiling. It leads into an en-suite bathroom with a clawfoot tub.
A wooden deck with a small table and chairs
The home’s lot is tiny, but includes space for a bedroom-side patio.

Penthouse in Long Beach’s historic Villa Riviera up for auction Thursday

Posted · Add Comment
With 35-foot ceilings, stenciled beams, and a massive wood-burning fireplace, the penthouse’s great room is a real show-stopper. | Photos courtesy of Adriano Lamboglia/Harcourts Auctions

Bids for the unit start at $750K

One of the two penthouse condos in Long Beach’s historic Villa Riviera is scheduled to be sold at auction on Thursday. Located at Ocean Boulevard and Shoreline Drive, the commanding Gothic Tudor-style complex has been a local landmark since its completion in 1929.

Designed by architect Richard D. King, whose other projects included Hollywood’s Art Deco-style Red Wine Building and the Moorish-style Sparkletts bottling plant in Eagle Rock, the 16-story structure was for decades the second-tallest building in Southern California after LA’s City Hall, and famously made it through the city’s devastating 1933 earthquake with only minor cracks to its plaster.

Until the mid-1950s, the 16-story Gothic Tudor was the second-tallest building in Southern California, surpassed only by Los Angeles City Hall.

Sadly, the Villa Riviera’s ability to withstand earthquakes wasn’t much use in defending it against ruthless remuddlers, and the vast majority of its incredible original interiors now exists only in photos and memories.

According to its listing description, the condo going on the block is the “only unit still containing historical charm from yesteryear.” And even it didn’t escape unscathed from the remuddling plague—we just didn’t have the heart to include photos of its redone kitchen and dining room in this write-up.

A pair of stone gargoyles stand sentry outside the penthouses’s lavishly tiled master bath.
More sublime period tile.

That being said, what original features that still remain in Penthouse No. 1508 are truly extraordinary. They include a vast great room with 35-foot ceilings, stenciled beams, a wood-burning fireplace, and built-in window seats offering spectacular ocean views.

Then there are the two bathrooms lined with glorious Art Deco tile, one of which has a window guarded by a pair of the building’s iconic stone gargoyles. Other vintage features include built-in shelves, arched doors, and sconces.

One of the unit’s two bedrooms.
The landmark building overlooks Alamitos Beach.

The auction for the Mills Act-eligible condo begins at noon tomorrow, with opening bids starting at $750,000. The listing is held by Adriano Lamboglia of Harcourts Auctions/Hunter Mason Realty.

LA requiring developers to put affordable housing on city-owned land

Posted · Add Comment
Aerial view of Los AngelesLos Angeles. | ShutterDivision | Shutterstock

“Affordable housing production is essential to alleviating and preventing homelessness,” says councilmember

Starting January 1, new homes built on city-owned land will have to provide the most affordable units possible, a move that one local nonprofit calls a “necessary step” toward addressing the critical shortage of available housing for low-income Angelenos.

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously signed off on the new rule Tuesday.

Under the rule, new residential buildings will have to be 100 percent affordable unless the council determines a developer could provide a higher number of affordable units by adding in some other mix of housing, including market-rate.

For example, if the city gets two development proposals, one for 50 affordable units and one for 10 market-rate units and 60 affordable units, it will select the latter.

“Our objective as a city is to maximize the number of affordable units,” said Councilemember Paul Krekorian.

Councilmember Herb Wesson Jr. introduced the idea in November, writing in a motion that “affordable housing production is essential to alleviating and preventing homelessness.”

Helmy Hesserich, director of housing strategies and services for the city’s Housing and Community Investment Department, told the council about a mixed-income project the department has in the works now where market-rate units in the project exist to pay for the cost of replacing the parking spaces that were lost by building the project—a pricey requirement the city had to meet under its own rules to build on the site.

Hesserich said the department already aims for 100 percent affordability on city land.

It has 39 projects locked in on publicly owned land, she said said, and all are 100 percent affordable, with the exception of that mixed-income project.

It is “impossible” to know exactly how many city-owned parcels stand to be affected by the City Council’s action on Tuesday. The city is continuously evaluating its properties to see which ones are “under-utilized” and could be suitable for housing, according to Yolanda Chavez of the Chief Administrative Officer’s office.

“We’re really looking at every possible option,” Chavez says.


First look: 200 apartments to rise next to Tom Bergin’s in Miracle Mile

Posted · Add Comment
The house-like structure that holds Tom Bergin’s is sandwiched between two apartment buildings.

The eight-story project would spare the landmarked Irish bar—but raze rent-controlled apartments

Los Angeles landmark Tom Bergin’s is slated to get an eight-story neighbor that would replace the bar and restaurant’s parking lot.

A developer filed plans with the city on Monday to build 800 South Fairfax, a 209-unit apartment complex at the corner of Fairfax and Eighth Street in Miracle Mile.

The majority of the development would rise on a parcel that is occupied now by two apartment buildings. The buildings contain 40 apartments, at least some of which are rent-controlled, city records show.

When developers demolish rent-stabilized units to build new rentals, they’re required by the city to either make the new building rent-controlled or incorporate a certain number of affordable units for low-income tenants.

800 South Fairfax is incorporating affordable units—and it’s using at least some of those units to qualify for the city’s transit-oriented communities program. The program gives developers the ability to add density when building near public transit hubs, if they include affordable units.

A couple of Los Angeles City Councilmembers have called the practice of using the replacement units to qualify for density bonuses “double dipping,” and have introduced legislation to stop it.

800 South Fairfax will ultimately set aside 28 units for tenants with extremely low-incomes.

Designed by the Venice-based Reed Architectural Group, 800 South Fairfax would include an amenity deck, some balcony units, and a small paseo with trees that would run between Tom Bergin’s and the development. Parking for the project would be provided in three levels, two above ground and one below—with a combined 239 spaces.

The house-like structure that holds Tom Bergin’s is sandwiched between two apartment buildings.
Tom Bergin’s is visible between an older apartment building and the new one.

A walkway with trees between the new building and the older restaurant.
A slim paseo is planned between the existing Tom Bergin’s and the new building.

The owners of both the existing apartment buildings and the Tom Bergin’s property are LLCs, which makes tracing exact ownership difficult. But, in state records, they all list the same manager: Chris Clifford, vice president of the Las Vegas office of Colliers International, a real estate management and investment company.

Public records show they paid $4.6 million for Tom Bergin’s in July and $15 million in April for the two apartment buildings.

The sale of Tom Bergin’s closed one month after the city landmarked the Irish tavern.

The owners were opposed to the landmarking, and, at the time, were in talks to sell the site to a unnamed developer for a mixed-use project. After pleas from the owners, the landmarking exempted Tom Bergin’s’ parking lot, which will now give way to the apartments.

Eater LA reports today that Tom Bergin’s, which was spared from the new development plans, will reopen as soon as this weekend.

Renting an Airbnb in Los Angeles? Here’s what to know before booking.

Posted · Add Comment
Many potential renters, who are finding themselves with more limited options, don’t know about the new rules. | Shutterstock

The city is cracking down on short-term rentals, which makes renting them trickier

When Kerrie Brinckerhoff was invited to a wedding in Los Angeles, she found the perfect place to stay—an adorable house in Echo Park. But just as she was about to book it, the listing was suddenly marked unavailable.

Brinckerhoff, who lives in Connecticut, contacted the host, who explained he had just received a letter from the city of Los Angeles telling him the listing violated new regulations on home-sharing.

“I had never experienced anything like this before,” says Brickerhoff.

The city of Los Angeles is cracking down on short-term rentals, such as Airnb and VRBO, which makes booking them trickier. But many potential renters, who are finding themselves with more limited options, don’t know that.

“I did not feel like any of the home owners made the rules in LA for Airbnb or home rentals clear,” Brickerhoff says. “The only reason I knew they were highly regulated is because my friend lives in the city.”

The new rules, which were passed in December 2018 after three years of deliberation by the City Council, are the city’s first attempt to regulate LA’s short-term rentals, which some advocates claim are taking affordable units off the market and worsening the housing crisis.

The rules have been in effect since July 1. But the city held off on enforcing them until November 1.

A city contractor is now combing through platforms such as Airbnb to find hosts who are not in compliance. Violators will be notified by the city and will have 30 days to come into compliance, according to the city’s planning department. If they don’t—they’ll be fined .

Last month, the city planning department sent out 4,800 warning letters to hosts who were not in compliance. It also gave Airbnb a “takedown” list of 164,784 addresses that are rent-controlled—and thus ineligible for hosting.

In March, the city’s tourism and convention board announced the city had welcomed a record-breaking number of tourists last year, with 50 million people visiting Los Angeles in 2018.

What to know before booking
  • Options are going to be slim. There are about 16,800 short-term rental listings in the city of Los Angeles as of November 20—that’s about a 60 percent drop since November 1, when enforcement started. Before the rules went into effect, Host Compliance LLC, a company that monitors short-term rental platforms, estimated there were 23,000 housing units available for rent in the city of LA on short-term rental platforms.
  • Look for a registration number. The city now requires hosts to register and it requires them to include that registration number in the listing. If there’s a registration number, that means the host is in compliance—and you likely won’t run the risk of having them cancel.
What hosts need to know
  • Hosts must register with the city planning department and pay an $89 fee. According to the city planning department.
  • Only the host’s primary residence can be rented out, defined as the place where a host lives for at least six months per year.
  • Renters can’t home-share without prior written approval of their landlord.
  • Stabilized (aka “rent-controlled”) units are not eligible for home-sharing, even if you own your own RSO unit.
  • Hosts may not register for or operate more than one home-sharing rental unit at a time in the city.
  • Hosts cannot home-share for more than 120 days in a calendar year, unless they have registered with the city for “extended home-sharing.”
  • The “extended home-sharing” option allows hosts to rent out residences for an unlimited number of days. To get approval from the city, hosts have to pay an $850 fee. To qualify, they need to be registered with the city for at least six months or hosted for at least 60 days. Hosts who have received a citation in the past three years will be disqualified, unless they pay a $5,660 fee to have their case reviewed.
  • Non-residential buildings and temporary structures are not eligible for home-sharing; that includes vehicles parked on the property as well as storage sheds, trailers, yurts, and tents.
  • Hosts are responsible for providing a Code of Conduct to all guests with rules about amplified sound and “evening outdoor congregations.”
  • There’s an email to sign up for to receive more updates.

Demolition fears swirl as Corky’s diner closes

Posted · Add Comment
A single-story midcentury diner with a swooping long roof and a neon sign of the restaurant’s name (“Corky’s). Corky’s at 5043 Van Nuys Bouelvard in Sherman Oaks. | Liz Kuball

It’s one of LA’s best examples of Googie architecture

Corky’s, a Googie-style diner in Sherman Oaks—and a popular filming location and long-time local fixture—and its Cork Lounge will close this month, ending a decades-long run.

In a Sunday night post on Facebook, the diner announced it will shutter December 15, raising fears of demolition. It’s urging customers to press city leaders into making Corky’s a Los Angeles landmark.

But as of today, no plans or demolition permits are on file with the city.

“Landlords just don’t appreciate these unique style buildings and design,” the posting read.

A manager at Corky’s confirmed the closure to Curbed on Monday. A lawyer representing the property owner did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Corky’s opened in 1958 as Stanley Burke’s Coffee Shop. It was designed by Armet and Davis, the architecture firm behind many of LA’s most eye-catching examples of the midcentury style known as Googie. The diner’s deeply curved roof and Flintstone-esque rock facade details recall the popular architect of Los Angeles in the 1950s and 1960s.

Corky’s has changed hands and weathered makeovers numerous times since 1958. Sometime in the early 1960s, shortly after it opened, the restaurant’s name changed to Corky’s, Sherman Oaks Patch has reported.

According to Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography, Joel reportedly played the piano “for a few weeks” at Corky’s lounge, now called Cork Lounge, in the 1970s. (Joel says he was fired from the job; he responded by throwing a rock through a window at the restaurant.)

In the 1980s, the eatery became the Lamplighter, and it remained under that name until 2010, when the structure reverted to the name Corky’s and underwent a remodel to restore some of the original Googie features.

The site has been a filming location for movies and television, including 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street and 2017’s Happy Death Day.

The Googie style’s exciting rooflines, neon signage, and space-age flourishes were meant to make car-driving passersby slow down and stop in. Since the term was coined in 1952, many of the most recognizable Googie structures, including the namesake coffee shop, have been demolished.


Here’s what $1.09M buys in Los Angeles

Posted · Add Comment

Picks include a contemporary one-bedroom in West Hollywood and a hillside home in Silver Lake

Welcome to Curbed Comparisons, where we explore what you can rent or buy for a certain dollar amount in various LA ’hoods. We’ve found five homes and condos within about $10,000 of today’s price: $1.09 million.

Curbed LA comparison horizontal rule gif
 Photos by Lucas on Location, courtesy of the Stephanie Younger Group
Culver City

Let’s kick things off on the Westside. Just one block south of the 405 freeway, this 5,838-square-foot property contains a main house, plus a one-bedroom, one-bathroom studio with a kitchenette above a detached two-car garage. The main residence was built in 1944 and holds three bedrooms and one bathroom; the living spaces flow together and include a dining room and an updated kitchen with a farmhouse sink, stainless appliances, and subway tile. Plus, there’s a sizable yard with room for entertaining and gardening. Walkable to Sepulveda Boulevard, home to Tito’s Tacos, Johnnie’s Pastrami, Sage, and Maple Block Meat Co., the R2-zoned lot is listed at $1.099 million.

 Photos by Nils Timm, courtesy of Penny Muck/Halton Pardee
Santa Monica

And we’ll stay on the Westside, this time closer to the beach, where a townhome is available in a 15-unit complex designed in 1981 by Michael Folonis. The sleek three-bedroom, one-and-three-quarter bathroom unit has three floors and clocks in at 1,480 square feet. The unit features soaring ceilings and industrial touches but still manages to feel warm thanks to some colored tile and wood cabinetry. Located off Lincoln and Pico boulevards, it’s within easy reach of the ocean and shops and restaurants on Main Street. The asking price is $1.095 million, with monthly HOA dues of $600 per month.

 Photos by DYS Photo, courtesy of Craig Koendarfer/Keller Williams
Silver Lake

Heading east, up Esther’s Steps—a staircase named after the late “Queen of Silver Lake”—this hillside home offers sweeping views of the city, the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Sign, and the mountains. Built in 1926, the three-bedroom, two-bathroom dwelling comes in at 1,492 square feet, not including a “garden basement” that, per the listing, could be “used as your imagination sees fit.” The listing also notes that the the backyard is mostly flat but is adjoined to a sloping parcel included in the sale. Together, the lots boast a footprint of more than 14,000 square feet. A short jaunt to Hyperion and Fountain avenues, the property is listed at $1.099 million.

 Courtesy of Laura Salgues, Redfin

Here’s a residence with period charm. The Spanish-style duplex was built in 1925 and has one unit on the upper level and one on the lower level. Each contains two bedrooms and one bathroom, private laundry, linen closets, and detached one-car garages. At the upper unit, original details include a picture window, moldings, and hardwood floors. The combined square footage is 2,920. Located off Olympic Boulevard and South La Brea Avenue, the price tag is $1.099 million.

 Courtesy of Jonathan Ruiz, The Agency
West Hollywood

Here’s another residence with architectural pedigree. The contemporary five-unit building was designed in 2004 by Pugh and Scarpa, a partnership that disbanded in 2010. Described as a “loft-style” condo, the one-bedroom, two-bathroom unit features super-tall ceilings, concrete floors, and an industrial glass door that opens to a private patio. A wood and steel staircase leads to the spacious bedroom, which comes with a huge built-in closet. Off Fairfax Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, right next to Whole Foods, the Surly Goat, and Bar Lubitsch, the 1,274-square-foot unit is asking $1.095 million, plus HOA fees of $400 per month.


Midcentury modern fixer in Tujunga asking $650K

Posted · Add Comment

It’s got heaps of potential!

A 1937 graduate of USC and a World War II Marine veteran, Carl Maston worked for some of Los Angeles’s most important architects, such as Gordon Kaufmann and A. Quincy Jones, before founding his own firm in 1946. Maston completed more than 100 projects in his four-decade career, including this 1953 post and beam in Tujunga.

Located at 9743 Pali Avenue in the Highland Square neighborhood north of Foothill Boulevard, the three-bedroom modern has just hit the market for the first time in two decades. Though the home is undeniably in need of work—the listing calls it a “light fixer”—it’s got a lot going for it, including vaulted beamed ceilings, hardwood floors, walls of glass, clerestory windows, skylights, built-ins, and a brick fireplace.

Sweetening the deal, the property sits on a nice sized lot of 6,873 square feet. It’s listed with Catharine Stevens at an asking price of $650,000. Open houses are scheduled Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.

The home is situated at the end of a long driveway and has a two-car carport.
Notable features include pitched beamed ceilings, hardwood floors, a brick fireplace, and walls of glass.
The kitchen is ripe for a revamp.
Clerestory windows and glass walls provide the bedrooms with plenty of natural light.
There are two bathrooms, both with original fixtures and skylights.
The current landscaping is pretty much a blank slate, but the 6,873-square-foot lot allows for plenty of options.