Million dollar mansions are nothing new to California but London-based Domvs is. The high-end, bespoke residential developer that’s specialised in single-family dwellings in central London for 14 years is finally making the leap into the American market. Perhaps oddly, it’s starting in Los Angeles — not San Francisco or tony addresses on the east coast (think the Hamptons) — but considering the plans for The Park Bel Air it’s not that odd at all.
Reinventing the City of Angels
Though Domvs’ London designers have created properties for other homeowners in the state in the past, this is the group’s first true development. For The Park Bel Air, Domvs (for pronunciation go Roman, or say Bvlgari out loud) is planning a collection of three estates on up to 4.5 acres of land each, with housing totalling an astounding 58,000, 59,000 and 66,000 square feet. Located at the intersection of the so-called Platinum Triangle — Bel Air, Beverly Hills, and Holmby Hills — The Park Bel Air is aiming to become three of the state’s premier addresses.
Glamorous and glittery as Los Angeles may be, it’s often been reduced to status below other major American markets, like nearby tech hub San Francisco, revitalising Miami and brainy, education-heavy Boston. But LA is starting to quietly muscle in on San Francisco’s territory as the prime destination for Asian investors and truly become a gateway city. It has the same kind of safe have market fundamentals as any location in the US and elite Beverly Hills is, ironically, good value. “Beverly Hills high-end real estate has been growing by 30 percent per year for the last five years, so there’s significant value growth. It’s coming from a high base but it’s still lower pricing than San Francisco and much lower than New York,” argues Domvs President Barry Watts.
Much of LA’s good fortune has to do with aggressive regeneration and rejuvenation of the downtown core, attracting business back to the city centre and with it young, hip residents. And though it may still be referred to as “La La Land” in some quarters, the city can’t be dismissed out of hand it anymore. “Los Angeles has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. It’s gone through a cultural renaissance and was always considered the second city of the US — particularly if you’re from New York — but that’s not the case anymore,” argues Watts. “Culturally people have changed their opinion. It’s a top five or top 10 global city now.”
Not too long ago, LA was a one-horse town, albeit the multi-billion dollar film and television business, but in 2016, it’s a global city with a robust banking and finance sector and re-emergent fashion scene among other industries. On top of that, it has a lifestyle element that’s hard to beat. “You’ve also got a lot of domestic buyers who want to live bi-coastally,” says Watts.
Home, Ultra-Sweet Home
As LA reinvents itself, Watts notes that demand from high-end buyers is rising while the quality of new housing is lacking. And though The Park Bel Air is admittedly extravagant, it’s the kind of property more than a few buyers are looking for. Located across the street from the Hotel Bel-Air, next to two country club golf courses, minutes from UCLA, 20 kilometres from LAX and four kilometres from Rodeo Drive, The Park Bel Air couldn’t be more ideally located if it tried.
But to Watts’s mind, the southern California lifestyle is a major factor in The Park Bel Air’s appeal (and yes, Watts has already fielded queries from interested buyers in Hong Kong). “People are looking at how to live in a different way. In New York, Hong Kong, London, Paris, the lifestyle is very similar — urban, in an apartment,” he states. “In Los Angeles it’s very different. We have 320 days of sunshine each year, you’re in a house, you spend your life outside. We have space, beaches, mountains… It offers something completely different and that’s the appeal.”
Lifestyle and some of the most amazingly detailed amenities just shy of the forthcoming, alleged US$500 million Nile Niami down the street. Nonetheless, The Park Bel Air is designed and built like small hotels, and the homes — which can be customised to each buyer’s tastes — will, among other features, boast 4.5-metre front doors, classical hillside design, infinity pools, underground parking, outdoor entertainment spaces, opulent materials, state-of-the-art technologies, wine cellars, innovative lighting, indoor spas, champagne lounges, closets that look like high fashion showrooms, 3,000-square foot guard houses, guest houses, winding driveways, and ocean, canyon and city views.
And The Park Bel Air has a price tag to go with it. As an indication, rental yields would be … poor. “It’s not aimed at investors. It’s aimed at wealthy individuals who want high quality and one of the finest homes in the world. If you want a new home in Los Angeles with every amenity there isn’t one,” admits Watts.
Prices in Beverly Hills are currently sitting at roughly US$2,000 to $3,000 (HK$16,000 to $23,000) per square foot, compared to $10,000 for comparable property in New York; The Park is priced below that. Purchasers will buy the land at US$15 million per acre and $1,100 to $1,700 per square foot for the houses — or roughly $150 million for a house/land package. While not a bargain, The Park Bel Air is good value, and Watts is confident all three will sell — relatively quickly. “There is a demand for this kind of property. People want beautiful things and beautiful homes.”