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Real Estate newsletter: ‘Friends’ star sells a mansion in the sky

A view of a sunset from Matthew Perry’s penthouse at the Century building.
Matthew Perry’s full-floor penthouse at the Century building was renovated by architect Scott Joyce and designer LM Pagano.
(Michael McNamara and Jason Speth)

Welcome back to the Real Estate newsletter. I come bearing bad news: Cheap rent — the one positive effect the pandemic had for many tenants — appears to be over.

At least that’s what the numbers are showing. The median rent in Los Angeles bottomed out at $1,717 in January and has been rising ever since, and experts are saying it will be back to normal — north of $2,000 — by the end of summer.

That’s the bad news. The good news (if your name is Matthew Perry and you starred in the beloved 1990s sitcom “Friends”) is that the priciest condo sale in Southern California since 2015 just closed at $21.6 million, a full-floor high-rise residence that Perry has been trying to unload for a few years. Bigger than most single-family homes, the “mansion in the sky” spans 9,300 square feet and features four outdoor terraces overlooking L.A.

Two other intriguing listings popped onto the market this week for the first time in decades. In Malibu’s Broad Beach, a brick beach house owned by late actor Jack Lemmon surfaced for sale at $13.45 million — a bit more than the $150,000 that the Oscar winner paid for it in 1971.

And out in Utah, Robert Redford is seeking $4.9 million for a 30-acre horse ranch that he’s owned since 1996. In total, around 1,800 acres of Utah belong to Redford, who’s been scooping up land there for half a century after opening Sundance Mountain Resort in the 1960s.

The Port of Los Angeles is getting some brand new development, but the wheels of history are not saving space for the San Pedro Fish Market, a sprawling restaurant complex that seats 3,000 and sells about 200 tons of shrimp a year. If the owner gets his wish, however, the restaurant/tourist attraction will move a mile and a half north and get even bigger with seating for 5,500 as well as a Ferris wheel-type attraction. One restaurant designer compared the project to “20 Cheesecake Factories sitting in one spot.”

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Farewell, cheap rent

A man holds a sign during a demonstration by the Los Angeles Tenants Union.
Noah, who declined to give his last name, participates in an April 2020 demonstration by the Los Angeles Tenants Union to demand rent forgiveness that month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

The era of pandemic rent declines appears to be over, real estate reporter Andrew Khouri writes.

After falling through much of the COVID-19 crisis as people relocated to suburbs or moved in with relatives, rents in big cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York are now on the rise. And experts say that prices are likely to keep heading upward.

“Landlords are really eager to charge more rather than charge less,” said Rob Warnock, research associate with rental website Apartment List, whose data show the median rent in Los Angeles is up 3.6% from the bottom. He said he expects the rise to continue, taking until the end of summer for prices in the city to hit February 2020 — or pre-pandemic — levels.

Mansion in the sky sells

A view of a sunset from Matthew Perry’s full-floor penthouse at the Century building.
Matthew Perry’s full-floor penthouse at the Century building was renovated by architect Scott Joyce and designer LM Pagano.
(Michael McNamara and Jason Speth)

Matthew Perry’s “mansion in the sky” — a Century City penthouse that spans an entire floor of the high-rise Century Tower — just sold for $21.6 million. That’s Southern California’s priciest condo sale since 2015.

The “Friends” star spent nearly as much time selling the home as he spent living there. He shelled out $20 million for the scenic perch in 2017 and put it on the market two years later at $35 million. With no takers, he trimmed the price to $27 million, then $23 million before closing the deal Monday.

It’s one of Southern California’s most expensive condo sales in the last decade, ranking just behind another Century Tower penthouse (coincidentally found a floor below Perry’s place) that sold for $22.5 million in 2015.

The mammoth sale is a shot in the arm for the vertical-living market in L.A. County, which some declared dead during the pandemic as buyers opted for more space and privacy. Perry’s home, however, is no ordinary condo.

Beach house built by an Oscar winner

A brick beach house with a spacious terrace and rooftop deck is seen from the beach.
Built in 1989, the brick beach house overlooks the ocean from a spacious terrace and rooftop deck.
(Daniel Dilanian / Revepix)

For the first time in five decades, the Broad Beach home of late Oscar-winning actor Jack Lemmon is up for grabs at $13.45 million.

The Southern California real estate market looks a bit different from when Lemmon bought the home in 1971. According to the Multiple Listing Service, he paid $150,000 for the waterfront property — or about $58 per square foot.

Lemmon, who was nominated for eight Oscars and won two, for “Mister Roberts” and “Save the Tiger,” died in 2001, and the home is currently owned through a trust controlled by his family.

The Old Hollywood star rebuilt the place in the late 1980s, outfitting it with a design palette of brick and blue shingles on the outside and wood and glass on the inside. In roughly 3,300 square feet, it has three bedrooms, four bathrooms, a living room with a vintage fireplace and solarium that doubles as a breakfast nook.

Actor offers a slice of Utah

The 30-acre ranch is tucked into a scenic spread of mountains, valleys and rivers.
(Colton Marsala)

Robert Redford’s Utah retreat, a 30-acre spread dubbed Horse Whisper Ranch after his 1998 western “The Horse Whisperer,” is on the market for $4.9 million.

Tucked into a picturesque scene of mountains, rivers and valleys, the estate is in the town of Charleston about 15 minutes outside Sundance Mountain Resort, the ski destination that the famed actor opened in the 1960s and sold last year.

Redford has been buying land in Utah for half a century, and according to the listing agency, he owns about 1,800 acres in the Sundance area. He bought this place in 1996 as a winter grazing area for his horses.

New dawn for San Pedro Fish Market

A preliminary rendering of the proposed San Pedro Fish Market restaurant in the Port of Los Angeles.
A preliminary rendering of the proposed San Pedro Fish Market restaurant on the waterfront in the Port of Los Angeles. The restaurant would have a Ferris wheel-type attraction.
(Garner Holt Productions)

Like most restaurants, San Pedro Fish Market took a beating as COVID-19 precautions choked off the flow of customers, but its owners expect a strong comeback — at least until they have to shut down their longtime home for good. After six decades on the pier where the Ports O’ Call tourist attraction once stood, the fish market must move to make way for new waterfront development, commercial real estate reporter Roger Vincent writes.

The owners want to supersize the restaurant, creating one of the largest dining establishments in the U.S., capable of seating 5,500 people. Rick McCormack, a restaurant designer working on concepts for the project, likened the scale to “20 Cheesecake Factories sitting in one spot.”

Plans call for a three-level indoor and outdoor establishment with a kitchen on each floor, numerous bars and a tall wheel-shaped attraction that would offer riders views of the harbor and San Pedro and serve as a beacon for the Fish Market.

If approved by multiple government authorities, it would be about a mile and a half north at Berth 93.

What we’re reading

While homebuyers wage bidding wars for the small supply of houses on the market, one group has been unusually quiet: house-flippers. According to Bloomberg, flips accounted for 2.7% of U.S. home sales in the first quarter of 2021, the lowest share since 2000.

L.A. has its newest historic landmark, and it’s tucked into the hills of Silver Lake. The Eastsider reports that Richard Neutra’s Reunion House, a Midcentury-style spot owned for years by Neutra’s family, was recently added to the city’s list of historic landmarks.


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