Golden Touch Along the Silver Strand : Marina Developer Pays Strict Attention to the Details

Times Staff Writer

It's too bad that the advertising slogan that begins with "Nobody sweats the details like . . . " is already taken: Clifford D. Rome would certainly qualify.

Rome, the 30-year-old president of Clifford D. Rome & Associates Inc., 4015 Via Dolce, Marina del Rey, is the kind of nitpicker with whom the buyers of his custom homes near the marina can identify.

After all, he reasons, anybody who shells out half a million dollars or more for a 3,000-square-foot home on a 2,870-square-foot lot--they're three-story houses--has a right to expect the highest quality materials and workmanship.

His North Star development features 16 Country French-style houses on Northstar Court off Via Dolce in Los Angeles, adjacent to Marina del Rey. The two-block-wide, 10-block long area is called the Silver Strand and about 220 houses by various builders are expected to be built there.

(A story on the saga of the Silver Strand development, originally carved out by Venice's founder, Abbott Kinney, in 1906, ran in this section June 24, 1984.)

Of the 13 homes under construction by the Rome company, eight are in North Star, three are on a nearby lagoon, one is a New England-style house and the other is a contemporary house designed by Marshall Lewis. "Contemporary houses appeal to a select group of people, but if you're building a development, traditional houses like those in North Star appeal to a wider market," Rome said. "Traditional houses--especially ours designed by Ade Collie and Tom Boyle--offer a wealth of texture and detailing that appeals to high-income home buyers."

Architectural features include hand-fired and molded brick, copper rain gutters and downspouts, three different types of stone trim for the houses and patio walls and thatched roof details on two of the houses. That's right, thatched roofs, just like those in England!

Not quite. This thatch roofing system, by Warwick Cottage Enterprises, Anaheim, has received a Class A fire rating from the Council of Building Officials, which includes the Whittier-based International Conference of Building Officials, the building code governing the West. Wes Warwick of Warwick Cottage Enterprises, has also received the Class A fire rating from the tough Los Angeles Building & Safety Department.

"Nothing in these homes is ordinary, from the $1,700 lintel over the wider-than-usual front door to the traditional architectural style, the first time this style has been used in the Marina," Rome said.

The houses are priced from $560,000 to $585,000, according to sales representative Tim Alexander, who added that most of the buyers so far are selling a larger home in other parts of Los Angeles. Typically, they are people who want to live at the beach but in a single-family detached house rather than a condominium, he added.

Other design details include sectional overhead garage doors with automatic door openers, a laundry room off the two-car garage with laundry chutes feeding into it from the upper floors, 10-foot-high coffered ceilings and kitchens with custom cabinets and built-in appliances, including the refrigerators.

Walking through houses under construction, Rome pointed out the complicated framing to a reporter. The framers who work on houses like his can't fake it--the angles are just too complicated for inexperienced carpenters.

"We've got a burial site at the end of the court for framers we burn out," Rome said jokingly. Construction of the houses is handled by R. T. Development Inc., a subsidiary of Rome Associates.

Although the zero-lot-line houses are on tiny lots, their placement on the sites provides enough room for a side yard, part of which can be used for storing a third car or a boat. Windows are placed high on the wall of the side facing the neighbor's yard, allowing light to enter but retaining as much privacy as possible.

Since this is California, after all, the homes feature rooftop decks, with plumbing for a spa already in place. This juxtapositioning of a hot tub in a house with a thatched roof probably could only happen in Southern California.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World