Playhouse Auction Benefits Homeless

Special to The Times

QUESTION: Is $338 a square foot too much to pay for a house you can't stand up in?

ANSWER: Not if it's a whimsical 80-square-foot English thatched cottage called "Once Upon a Time," which sold for $27,000 at last year's Project Playhouse charity auction, where home builders and others create exquisite children's playhouses that are sold to benefit the homeless in Orange County.

Now in its fourth year, Project Playhouse has raised $310,000 for HomeAid, the Orange County building industry's program that builds and renovates shelters for the estimated 12,000 people (half of them children) who are homeless in Orange County because of catastrophic illness, job loss, spousal desertion or abandonment. In 1994, nine playhouses were sold for bids ranging from $7,000 to $27,000.

This year, eight playhouses will be sold at auction Nov. 11 near the Hard Rock Cafe at the Fashion Island shopping center in Newport Beach. The event will begin at 5 p.m. Tickets to the auction are $15 and include dinner and a party at the Hard Rock. Children 12 and younger are free. The auction will start at 6:30 p.m.

The playhouses are on display at Fashion Island, and tours of the interiors of the houses are conducted on the weekends with purchase of a ticket to the auction.

Project Playhouse '95 builders and their creations are Baywood Development Corp., "California Cottage," which will pay homage to the modest Victorian homes built throughout California at the turn the century; Centex Homes, "My Little Manor," which will feature Gothic windows and brick trim; ETCO Homes, "Home--Where It All Begins," a contemporary house with a garage; FHP Inc., "River Belle," a riverboat; the Presley Cos., "Daisy Lane Cottage," an old English flower shop; Trimark Development Corp., "Tower 24," a lifeguard tower straight from the Southern California beach scene; the UC Irvine Farm School, "Fun Zone," a playhouse designed by students 8 to 12 years old, and William Lyon Homes, "Hansel & Gretel's Cottage," a gingerbread cottage, complete with a secret door.

For more information about Project Playhouse '95, call (800) 414-SALE.

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