Loews Will Build Hotel at Santa Monica Beach

Times Staff Writer

Neither rain nor snow nor the devastating storm of last week apparently frightens Loews Hotels.

The New York firm, which now operates 14 hotels including some in Europe and Canada, will open its first West Coast property in the spring of 1989 just south of the Santa Monica pier.

A ground breaking will be held Thursday for the $30-million, 350-room project, which its backers say will be "the only hotel directly on the beach between Santa Barbara and Laguna Beach."

A California partnership, formed by Sidney W. and George T. Caplan, is the project owner, and Jonathan M. Tisch, president of Loews Hotels, is also involved in the development.

The name "Loews" has been associated with the entertainment business for 83 years, but "Tisch" is also well known. Jonathan Tisch's father is U. S. Postmaster General Preston Robert Tisch, who started the hotel company in 1946 with his brother, Laurence. The brothers acquired Loews Theaters in 1959, then later changed the hotel company's name to Loews. The theater division was sold in 1985.

The Santa Monica hotel is being designed by John H. Spohrer of ArchiSystems International to have a 3,200-square-foot fitness center, an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, private access to the beach, a couple of restaurants (one for seafood), a ballroom, meeting rooms and underground parking for 500 cars.

It took 10 years to get approvals for the project, which will be built on the site of an old motel.

Mickey Rooney's old Encino estate is for sale.

Built in 1931, the two-story Mediterranean-style mansion has six bedrooms, 5 1/2 baths, three patios, four fireplaces, a pub room, walk-in vault, courtyard with a walnut tree and wishing well, motor court that would hold 20 cars, two dining rooms, tile roof and carved beams and doors.

"There's a room we call The Zodiac because it's hand painted with the signs and figures of the zodiac," said Adele Cooper, who shares the $1,395,000 listing with Vida Monify--both of Merrill Lynch Realty.

One of the fireplaces has an old California map painted on it that pinpoints the locale of the house, and one of the master baths has tile trimmed in 18-karat gold.

The veteran actor lived in the 6,200-square-foot house some time ago. Current owners are a young Beverly Hills psychiatrist and his wife, a former ballet dancer, who want to sell, said Cooper, "because they want to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city."

Actress Jane Seymour and her husband/business manager, David Flynn, have bought a house on Heather Road in the Beverly Hills post office area, just across the street from another house the couple bought a few months ago, says their realty representative, Jana Jones of Alvarez, Hyland & Young.

The savvy investors have been buying houses, fixing them up with the help of Sherman Oaks-based architect Gus Duffy, then selling them for a profit.

One of the houses they just bought will be back on the market within the next three months in the $1-million range, said Jones, adding that Heather Road is becoming a $1-million street because of the Flynns' efforts and her sale of a 3-acre lot there, which just went back on the market for $2.1 million.

Duffy is the fellow, by the way, who designed the first 15 homes built and sold by Columbia Savings & Loan in its locomotive-like drive through Beverly Hills, buying old homes, demolishing them, and rebuilding.

Among Duffy's current projects is an 8,000-square-foot house in Holmby Hills for Mike Dubelko, Cannell Productions chief, and his wife, actress Deidre Hall.

Lagoons were being filled last week at Chris Hemmeter's Westin Kauai at Kauai Lagoons, the 580-acre Hawaiian resort, which had a "splashy" opening in January.

"Our boat program will start Feb. 1," said Judy Potter-Gordon, L. A.-based sales manager for the Westin Kauai and Westin Maui. The boat program will begin with three 40-passenger mahogany launches and 10 four-passenger outrigger canoes. (Five 40-passenger launches, 90 outriggers and three 15-passenger VIP boats are planned.)

There is also some good news about those huge (25 feet tall and 4 1/2 feet wide) Roman-type columns in the lobby that to many seemed more plastic than real. Jim Treadway, the resort's manager (formerly manager of L. A.'s Bonaventure) says though they are made of fiberglass-type material, the columns were structurally sound and served a support purpose, "but for aesthetic reasons, they have been filled with concrete."

Hemmeter expects to spend $500 million on the place before he's done, "and if something isn't quite right, he'll change it," Treadway added.

Liongate, a Bel-Air mansion built in 1938, has finally closed escrow, and--at $7.7 million--is the largest single-family sale transacted on the Westside last year.

Joyce Flaherty, who represented both sides in the deal while working at Schreiber Realty (she's now manager of the Rodeo Realty Collection), heaved a sigh that the sale recorded a few days ago.

"It was in escrow at $7.75 million but fell out the day after the stock market crashed. The buyer said he took tremendous losses so couldn't get the loan (on the house)," she explained.

"Lucky she had a back-up offer on the property, which had been listed at $12 million, from Nancy and Bilo Zarief, oilman Marvin Davis' daughter and son-in-law.

"I'm glad they got it, because Nancy was the first person I showed the house," Flaherty remarked. "Anyway, I think it's interesting that the Davis family bought both of the homes Kenny Rogers owned and renovated in the Los Angeles area."

The popular singer once owned Liongate and the Knoll, the Beverly Hills estate he sold to Davis in 1984 for $20.5 million, but the seller of Liongate this time was Mark Hughes, founder of Herbalife. Hughes is planning to build a mansion for himself in Palos Verdes and is just waiting to get the permits to break ground.

It might have become one of the largest estates in town--those 20 Bel-Air acres that were sold last April, purportedly to a wealthy English gent. Instead, the property was sold to a developer who has since sold two of the subdivided sites through Jeff Hyland of Alvarez, Hyland & Young. The remaining two parcels are listed at $3.25 million and $3.75 million.

There has been a lot of controversy over this one: Plaza de las Flores, a shopping and restaurant complex that has gotten the go-ahead in Palm Springs.

The center of controversy was possible demolition or other use of the 1941-vintage Welwood Murray Library, which will now be retained as a library.

The "Old World" style project, designed by architect Robert Altevers, will encompass nearly a full city block in the heart of town, extending from Tahquitz Way to property just south of the Plaza Theater, which will be remodeled instead of razed, and from South Palm Canyon Drive on the west to Indian Avenue on the east.

The old McCallum Building, former home of the Desert Museum, also will be remodeled in keeping with what developers say will be "an old Palm Springs village ambiance." There will be tile roofs, pane windows, Mexican pavers, fountains, patios, stone columns and trim.

Plaza de las Flores, a $6-million project of Wessman Development and the city's Redevelopment Agency, is expected to be under construction this spring.

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