The House of Spelling : Massive Construction Project in Holmby Hills Flusters Some Neighbors

Times Staff Writer

What’s bigger than a football field, smaller than Hearst Castle, has a bowling alley and an entire floor of closets, and is making some people very annoyed?

Aaron and Candy Spelling’s 56,500-square-foot mansion in Holmby Hills.

The French chateau, under construction now for two years, has turned the corner of Mapleton and Club View drives into a gawker’s paradise. Sprawled across 6 acres on what once was the Bing Crosby estate, the house dwarfs the sizable mansions on the block and looms large over tranquil Holmby Park near Wilshire Boulevard.

Some of the neighbors are not impressed. Audrey Irmas, who lives across the street, won an injunction against the television producer and the construction company three years ago. She calls the house, which obscures her view of the sunrise, “Look-at-me-I’m-rich architecture.”


“I hope I never lay eyes on them,” she adds.

Interest by Sultan Reported

Interest in the house led Spelling to deny one report that he offered to sell the unfinished house for $22 million to a representative of the Sultan of Brunei in a meeting arranged by millionaire businessman Marvin Davis. Spelling acknowledged that the representative did meet with Davis but said he has not attempted to sell the house and does not intend to sell the house.

The sultan’s representative bought three adjacent homes in Beverly Hills, which he plans to raze to build one huge estate. The sultan himself bought the Beverly Hills Hotel last year from Davis.

Spelling also would not talk about the house or the neighbors, although he did respond to a few questions through his publicist.

The house, he said, will contain, among other things, a screening room, a kitchen, a pool, a tennis court, four two-car garages, a gym and a one-lane bowling alley.

It will not have, he said, three kitchens, 12 fountains, a gazebo and a 6,000-square-foot guest house as reported recently in People magazine.

And the magazine’s report of an estimated $75,000 monthly operating budget for the house is “the most outrageous figure I’ve ever heard,” he added.


In a statement, Spelling declared, “We were outraged when People magazine printed all those lies and that’s why we’re answering now. We’re very private people and would like to be left alone about the house.”

The project--a few doors down from the Playboy Mansion and a few blocks from the Spellings’ current home--already has tongues wagging 3,000 miles away, as Easterners cluck about another ostentatious display of Hollywood bucks for a house that out-dynasties “Dynasty.”

That high-gloss series, along with “The Love Boat,” “Hotel” and “Fantasy Island,” has made Spelling one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Hollywood.

The Spellings’ money is the stuff of which legends are made, even though Aaron Spelling failed to make the Forbes 400 list in 1987 (in 1986 he was said to be worth $235 million).

For years, the Spellings had snow trucked in for the annual Christmas party for their two children, Tori, now 13, and Randy, now 9.

Then there are Candy’s large, handsome jewels and her designer gowns.

And now there is the house.

Or, “The Manor,” as a sign on the property read for a while. The sign, now gone, had some wondering if a condominium or a hotel was going up on the property.


If Candy Spelling is true to her word, she will decorate the entire house herself, as she told Vanity Fair four years ago, and will even get the “Gone With the Wind” double staircase she dreamed of.

In addition, to allow enough room for the Spelling clothes, the Board of Building and Safety Commissioners approved a request in June, 1986, “to allow two clothes closet areas and adjacent balconies, approximately 28 feet and 42 feet in length and both approximately 8 feet in width, to be constructed on an intermediate level between the second story and the attic area of (the house) without considering the clothes closet and balcony area as an additional story, in order to waive the second exit required for a third floor.”

The Spellings’ mansion-to-be doesn’t break any size records for single-family dwellings, although it ranks right up there. The Pullman estate in Hillsborough, Calif., is 125,000 square feet. If they wanted to upgrade they could make a bid on a 112,895-square-foot, 170-room mansion in Cold Springs, N.Y., which has an asking price of $52 million.

Many people connected with the construction of the house refused to comment or return phone calls.

But the construction, estimated in the building permit to cost $12 million, reportedly includes tons of natural limestone imported from Italy. It will cover the outside of the house, designed by James Langenheim and Associates. Langenheim also has a bid in to design a house for the shah of Iran’s sister in Santa Barbara.

The Spellings purchased the property from Patrick Frawley, president and chairman of Schick Laboratories, in 1983. Frawley was going to subdivide the lot but backed off when Spelling scooped up the land and an existing house for $10,250,000. Bing Crosby once lived in the house built in 1932 by George B. Kaufman, who also designed the Beverly Hills Greystone mansion.


Spelling leveled the Crosby mansion to make room for his--a move that seems all the rage in Southern California.

Then dirt was trucked in to reshape the land.

That’s when the trouble started, according to Irmas, who, with her husband, Sydney, filed the injunction against Spelling in December, 1985.

“The truck drivers would throw beer cans on the lawn and there were all these weeds on the property,” she said. “They would go to seed and then we’d have weeds. People would drive over the lawn. We asked them to clean it up . . . we filed the injunction. This was one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city.”

The permanent injunction, among other things, limited the number of trucks on the construction site and ensured that the weeds would be cleared away and the neighbors’ property repaired if damaged.

“This has been going on for four years in different stages,” Irmas continued. “They send us flowers but we take them and throw them out . . . They would send (someone) to talk about the problems, but we said we don’t deal with intermediaries.”

“Our peaceful neighborhood has been shattered,” added J. P. Guerin, former chairman of PSA Inc., as he calmly paced his driveway and looked across the street at the cement walls and scaffoldings.


“I’m not complaining, but it has been very unpleasant. It’s been noisy, there have been strange people, sightseers in the neighborhood. I can’t say they’ve done anything abusive. And when we’ve asked them to fix something (on our property) they’ve done it immediately.

“But Aaron Spelling is not a superstar in this neighborhood. And I am not excited about the visibility of this wealth. Yet,” he added, “you have to look at this with a certain amount of humor. If you don’t laugh at it, you’ll cry.”

If good fences make good neighbors, the Spellings may want to invest in a lot of brick.


Location: Holmby Hills.

Size: 56,500 square feet on approximately 6 acres.

Construction cost: $12 million.

Style: French chateau.

Architect: James Langenheim & Associates, La Crescenta.

Height: 51.5 feet.

Stories: Two, plus a basement, plus an intermediate level for closets between the second story and the attic.

Included inside: One kitchen, one screening room, one gym and a one-lane bowling alley.

Planned outside: Four two-car garages, one tennis court, one pool (not Olympic-sized).

Size of outside guard house: Approximately 4x4 feet.