They loved the house. Now they want to tear it down. The neighbors won’t have it

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The dear seller letter helped close the deal.

Reuven and Shevy Gradon had fallen in love with an elegant Tudor-style on a corner lot in Hancock Park. They could envision hosting family dinners in the dining room, with its carved wood beams and leaded windows, and padded their offer with a heartfelt message: “This home is exceptional both in character and in location and is the home of our dreams,” the couple wrote in July.

The sellers were looking for a buyer who wouldn’t tear down the home—and accepted the offer.

They were “stunned and heartbroken,” then, to learn from an old neighbor on Friday, one month after escrow closed on the $2.3 million sale, that a demolition notice had been posted in the dining room.

“It really is devastating to watch these beautiful old homes be completely demolished,” says David Cole, who owned the home at 361 North Citrus Avenue for nearly a decade.

This morning, a Bobcat was staged at the end of the driveway, construction workers milled about, and a cloud of dust briefly plumed in the front yard.

Gradon, a real estate investor and president of Afton Properties, says he meant everything he and wife wrote in that letter. But during escrow, learned from his contractor that his plans to expand the 2,356-square-foothome to make it work for his growing family would not make financial sense.

They decided the best solution would be to demolish the house and build a new, bigger house for his family that “will draw on the neighborhood character” for its design.

A spokesperson for Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz says there is “a swell of concern” in the neighborhood. Responding to pleas from neighbors, the councilmember filed a motion Tuesday asking the City Council to take the home into consideration as a potential historic cultural monument. That could stay demolition, if the motion is approved before the home is razed.

The motion infers the demolition isn’t being done to code, but a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety says Gradon is clear to start work.

“I’m doing everything by the book,” Gradon says.

A city survey identified the area between La Brea and Highland and Rosewood and West Third Street as a potential historic district, because of its tree lined-streets, deep front yards, and period revival homes, and Koretz says the home itself could be “eligible for historic designation on its own.”

Built in 1927, it might have been one of the neighborhood’s original design showcase homes. It still has a plethora of period details, including a hand carved entryway, large Batchelder fireplace, and inlaid floors.

This was a kind of wonderful example of what we think is a Tudor home,” says Alison Simard, a Koretz spokesperson.

Gradon bristles at the notion that this is a speculative deal or a money-making endeavor.

He says he has every intention of living on the property. “This is my home,” he says.

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