Multibillionaire BILL GATES, co-founder and chairman of Microsoft Corp., one of the nation's most successful computer software companies, plans to build a 45,800-square-foot home in the Seattle suburb of Medina, and 80% of the project will be underground.
"He wants to build something of a scale to fit the surroundings and sort of low-key," said Bob Burke, planning consultant to the city of Medina, "but it won't be totally buried. He'll be able to look out at the lake." The home will have 400 feet of waterfront on Lake Washington.
Most of the 35,800-square-foot main house will be built into a steep hillside. The remaining 10,000 square feet will be used for a caretaker's house, a lakeside pavilion with a hot tub and barbecue, and an underground garage to house at least 20 cars.
Three kitchens, a television/theater room and a swimming pool will be among the subterranean features. Plans also call for a sports court for racquetball and volleyball; a 100-foot, two-slip dock, and an artificial estuary and creek circling the house and running down to the lake.
Work on the caretaker's cottage, the garage and a road into the 4.5-acre site is scheduled to begin this fall. "The big house will be under way after the rains, next spring," Burke said. The home will take at least two years and an estimated $5 million to $10 million to build.
Gates, a 34-year-old bachelor, now lives in Seattle's Laurelhurst neighborhood.
On the scale of big houses, Gates' home rates behind producer Aaron Spelling's, whose nearly completed Holmby Hills residence will be 56,500 square feet; a 112,895-square-foot mansion in Cold Springs Hill, New York; the 125,000-square-foot Pullman estate in Hillsboro, Calif.; and the 126,000-square-foot Biltmore House in Asheville, N.C.
The world's largest privately owned single-family residence is said to be the 231,000-square-foot, West German mansion owned by Prince Johannes Thurn und Taxis.
Tony Award-winning lyricist/composer JERRY HERMAN ("Hello, Dolly!," "La Cage aux Folles," "Mame") has purchased a home in Los Angeles after about a 10-year absence from the city.
"I'm coming back; I'm so excited," he said by phone from his Manhattan townhouse. "I've very much missed all my friends in the Los Angeles area. I always had my major home in New York, but I had a second home in L.A. all through the '70s."
Herman, who will continue to maintain his townhouse in Manhattan and a country home in Upstate New York, bought a place above Sunset Strip for slightly more than $3 million.
The seller was John Bourne, an artist and collector of pre-Columbian art who just acquired actor Gene Hackman's home in Santa Fe, N.M., for $1.9 million in cash, sources say.
Bourne owned the house above Sunset Strip almost from the time it was built in 1966. Herman knew of the home because he had bought, remodeled and sold three or four houses in the area.
He left Los Angeles in the early 1980s for the Florida Keys, where he also refurbished several homes.
"I have a background in design and architecture, and between shows, I buy old houses and redo and sell them," he said. "It's a wonderful hobby and great therapy, but I'm glad I was able to get this (home above Sunset Strip), because it is a house I've had a great love for."
A friend told him that Bourne finally put it on the market, and Herman hurried to buy it. "It was designed by Ted Grenzbach, one of my favorite architects," he said.
The 3,500-square-foot house was designed in the shape of an H, with a glass crosswalk from part of the house to the other. Half of the two-bedroom house is the master bedroom suite.
The home sits on a knoll with a 180-degree view from downtown to the ocean; a fountain and a swimming pool.
Joe Kyle with Mimi Styne Associates, a Joyce Blumberg Co., handled both sides of the transaction. Kyle, a former dancer, has known Herman since 1964 when appearing on Broadway in the chorus of "Hello, Dolly!" starring Carol Channing.
PIA ZADORA, who goes on tour with Frank Sinatra and Don Rickles starting Aug. 17 in Sacramento, and her businessman husband, MESHULAM RIKLIS, have sold one of their three Beverly Hills-area homes.
The home, built in 1958, was owned, about 10 years ago, by former jockey Bill Shoemaker. It was bought by an Italian industrialist for $4.7 million, according to public records. The 6,370-square-foot contemporary, on one acre with five bedrooms and 6 1/2 baths, had been listed with Mike Silverman of Beverly Hills.
Zadora and Riklis also own the legendary Pickfair, which they practically razed and are rebuilding, as well as homes in Beverly Park, in the Beverly Hills Post Office area, Malibu and Manhattan.
MAURICE L. KUSELL, former choreographer/writer/director of stage and screen musicals, and his wife, Linda, have completed a home near Pismo Beach and have put their Los Feliz home on the market at $1,075,000.
Their $1-million beach home, in Arroyo Grande, has four bedrooms, four baths and an artist's studio in 3,000 square feet.
"We both oil paint," he said. "I gave up choreography quite awhile ago. . . . Choreography is for much younger people," said Kusell, who is 88.
Kusell said he worked the films "Puttin' on the Ritz" in 1930, starring Joan Bennett; "Reaching for the Moon" in 1931, starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr., and "The Great Gabbo" in 1929, starring Erich Von Stroheim, among others.
Their new home is on an acre of rolling hills overlooking the ocean. Their daughter, Maurine Kusell Zigelman, a dental surgeon, and her internist husband, Dr. Michael Zigelman, built a house for themselves on an abutting acre, he noted.
Kusell's Los Feliz home is listed with Lucy Kominih of the Jon Douglas Co.