Santa Barbara Biltmore to Close Escrow

Times Staff Writer

The historic Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel is due to close escrow by March 31 at a selling price, we learned, of about $55 million.

That's a whopping difference from the $5.25 million the Marriott Corp. announced in a letter of intent that it would pay in 1976 to Allied Properties to take over the Biltmore operation.

Allied Properties had to divest itself of both the Biltmore and its sister, the Clift in San Francisco, in the estate settlement of the late Robert Odell, who owned Allied Properties. Four Seasons, a Canadian firm, bought the Clift. The Marriott bought the Biltmore.

Now the Four Seasons is buying the Biltmore in a joint venture with VMS Realty Partners of Chicago. Remember them? That's the group that helped finance the $120-million Grand Champions (tennis) Resort, which opened in December in Indian Wells.

The Biltmore opened before Christmas in 1927 as the fairest jewel in an 18-hotel national chain. It was acquired by Allied Properties of San Francisco in 1936.

Marriott Hotels completed an $8-million expansion and renovation in 1983.

When the latest transaction closes, the newest owners plan to embark on a $13-million renovation. The 228-room hotel is on a 20-acre site that is one of only three major hotel oceanfronts between San Francisco and San Diego.

This is the first partnership between VMS and Four Seasons as owners, although Four Seasons operates the Inn on the Park Hotel owned by VMS in Toronto, Canada.

It's one of those grand old Hollywood buildings, The Montecito, and its story has a happy ending.

Home to the stars for more than 40 years, the former residential hotel reopened last week as rehabilitated apartments for low- and moderate-income senior citizens.

The 10-story building was a home, in the '50s, to then-actor Ronald Reagan. It was also a home to Mickey Rooney, Geraldine Page, Hazel Scott, Rip Torn, George C. Scott, Gene Hackman, Sal Mineo, Don Johnson and Ben Vereen.

Designed in 1929 by Los Angeles architect Marcus Miller (best known for his art-moderne design of the Darkroom Camera Shop on Wilshire Boulevard, with an entrance in the shape of a giant camera), the hotel was completed at 6650 Franklin Ave. in 1931.

Since then, the 10-story structure has been a Hollywood landmark, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Designed by architect William Ellinger III of Woodford, Parkinson, Wynn & Partners, the rehab included restoration of the Art-Deco architectural style with the addition of some contemporary amenities in the 118 apartments. A limited partnership developed the $8-million rehab with financing from the Community Redevelopment Agency, U. S. Department of Housing & Urban Development and California Housing Finance Agency.

Hollywood entrepreneur Jerrold (Jerry) Perenchio has purchased a house next door to the Bel-Air Kirkeby Estate he bought last year for $13.6 million.

Insiders say he plans to tear down the adjacent house, which he acquired to enlarge his 6.6-acre property and gain more privacy. With the purchase, he now has about 11 acres of prime Bel-Air property.

The parcel he just bought changed hands three times in the past six months: first, for $2.65 million, then for $3.3 million, and finally, to Perenchio, for $3.6 million. A $3.6-million teardown? Bel-Air dirt must be laced with gold.

Perenchio has been known to add on to another of his holdings in a ritzy area. In Malibu Colony, he bought several houses near one he already owned: one house, it's said, for a projection room; one for his help, and one for his security people. He also bought an expanse of land near the Colony's guardhouse for a private jogging track, which he used once as a helicopter-landing field and another time, for a party under a large, circus tent.

Herman Wouk apparently gets to build a kosher-kitchen addition to his Palm Springs home after all.

The novelist's notion was turned down in February by the city's planning commission, but he appealed that decision and won, Roger Hardy, who writes a desert newsletter, let us know.

Entertainer Sonny Bono, who is running for the office of mayor, supported Wouk's appeal, Hardy said.

Wouk's house has had some illustrious owners: besides Wouk, actor Robert Wagner and his actress wife, the late Natalie Wood, and, at another time, actress Barbra Streisand.

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