Neighborhood Spotlight: Beverly Crest's got it — and flaunts it

The distinction of largest home in the 90210 belongs to the massive 49,000-square-foot mansion that Hyatt heir Anthony Pritzker carved into the side of a mountain overlooking Beverly Glen Boulevard.

In a neighborhood not known for shying away from outsized displays of wealth, Pritzker’s home and its myriad over-the-top luxury touches (bowling alley, game room and arts and crafts room, for starters) represent peak ostentation.

Which, in Beverly Crest, is a feature, not a bug.

This is a neighborhood shoehorned between the lush lawns and old money of Bel-Air and the architecturally brash, nouveau riche environs of Hollywood Hills West, and which has made itself an appealing alternative to both largely on the basis of its prestigious 90210 Zip Code.

What drew the well-to-do to Beverly Crest in the 1920s wasn’t just a ZIP Code, but also a willingness to market to Hollywood’s elite. Whereas haughty Bel-Air turned up its nose at the stars of the silver screen, to its east the hills above Sunset Boulevard soon played host to legends like Harold Lloyd and Rudolph Valentino.

George Read, Beverly Crest’s canny developer, was the first to capitalize on pent-up demand in the Hollywood community for luxury living near Beverly Hills. He called his subdivision “the balcony” of Beverly Hills and heavily promoted it as a haven for industry types.

Graceful gates at the entrance to his tract mirrored the infinitely more famous Bel-Air portals and marked it as a place of refinement — a quality that everybody in déclassé Hollywood wanted to be seen to possess.

After World War II, new engineering and home construction techniques allowed developers to plunge ever farther into rugged canyons and up previously unbuildable hillsides. The styles of the past — the Tudors, the Georgians, the Spanish Colonials — gave way to glassy modernist homes that properly took advantage of the area’s stupendous city and Valley views.

From there the houses began to get bigger, and soon the baseline size of new homes grew from the 5,000-square-foot houses of the 1920s to the 10,000-square-foot (and beyond) homes of the postwar era.

Now it comes to this: In this brave new world of supermassive luxury homes, it is possible — with enough money, of course — to have a nearly 50,000-square-foot house in the 90210.

Neighborhood highlights

Beverly Hills Post Office: Even though Beverly Crest is actually in the city of Los Angeles, that ever-desirable 90210 Zip Code adds Beverly Hills dollars to home values.

The good life: Beautiful homes, stunning views and privacy — there’s a lot to like about Beverly Crest, provided you can afford the price of entry.

Mountain high: When sipping Old Fashioneds by the infinity pool becomes tiresome, there are plenty of places to enjoy the great outdoors, including Franklin Canyon and nearby Coldwater Canyon.

Neighborhood challenges

The invasion of the mega-mansions: Neighbors have been on high alert since Pritzker sneaked his giant home in by building it in phases to hide the size, but the threat of intrusive new mansions is constant.

Expert insight

Drew Mandile, a certified property specialist with Sotheby's International Realty, said that despite its reputation as an exclusive neighborhood, Beverly Crest has “more variety than people might think” when it comes to home prices.

He noted prices range from $100-million guard-gated mega-mansions to $600,000 homes on smaller lots. Because of that diversity, clear-cut comps are hard to come by.

“It’s very difficult to appraise homes in a mixed neighborhood like that,” Mandile said. “So you could buy a home for a million-and-a-half dollars for example, fix it up and sell it for $4 million because the comparable homes in that area are difficult to compare."

Market snapshot

In March, based on 21 sales, the median sales price for single-family homes in the 90210 ZIP Code was $6 million, according to CoreLogic. That was a 136% increase in median price over the same month the previous year.

Report card

There are three public elementary schools within the boundaries of Beverly Crest. Roscomare Road scored a 967 in the 2013 Academic Performance Index. Warner Avenue and Wonderland Avenue scored 960 and 973, respectively.

hotproperty@latimes.com

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