Griffith Park just got a little bit bigger. All it took was a canceled deal due to the coronavirus and a community fundraiser that raised $500,000.
Last year, a rare real estate opportunity presented itself on the outskirts of L.A.’s largest park. Two empty lots, combining for 1.35 acres nestled against Griffith’s southern border, came to market for a combined $850,000 — a steep discount from the original asking price of $1.144 million.
Multiple parties started circling, and a developer soon had a deal in place to buy the prized parcels at the beginning of the year. The coronavirus hit the U.S. soon after, however, and the transaction fell apart in escrow.
That’s when the community stepped in. Determined to buy the land to conserve it from development, local resident Jason Greenwald and his wife, Corey Nickerson, teamed with an organization called Friends of Griffith Park and hammered out a contract in late April to buy it for a reduced price of $500,000; the only catch was that they had to agree to a shortened 21-day escrow and gather the funds by May 8, according to Douglas Elliman agents Heather T. Roy and Learka Bosnak, who represented the buyers.
More than 100 contributions poured in, ranging from a pair of angel donors who contributed six figures to an 8-year-old who contributed $2. They raised half a million dollars before the deadline, and the deal closed late last week, ensuring that the prized plot of land will remain undeveloped.
“It’s a victory for that neighborhood,” said Roy.
Bosnak added that, especially during a pandemic, it was amazing to see people rally around a cause and donate money to land conservation.
The land — filled with oak trees and wildlife — now belongs to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, a public agency that acquires, preserves and protects open spaces. In addition to the $500,000, a bit extra was raised to take care of maintenance and brush clearance bills in the future.
“When this pandemic is over, Los Angeles will have an even bigger and better Griffith Park to return to,” said L.A. City Councilman David Ryu in a statement. His office pledged $15,000 toward the effort.
The parcels sit just south of Bronson Canyon, a well-known section of Griffith Park that’s been used as a filming location for numerous movies and TV shows over the years. One of the Bronson caves was famously used to portray the Batcave in the 1960s “Batman” series, which Roy said was a contributing factor to the fundraiser’s success.
The scenic area also has starred in the shows “Twin Peaks” and “Star Trek” and the films “The Scorpion King,” “Hail, Caesar!” and “Under the Silver Lake.”