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Malibu Trumps Greenwich in Pricey Real Estate Offerings

Robin Kencel|May 14, 2019

If you digitally flip through this month’s Greenwich listings, you’ll find a collection of homes that embody all kinds of structural styles. There is no single “Greenwich architecture”—although some homeowner associations such as Khakum Wood with it's stone and brick only facades requirements are aimed at preserving a pleasantly homogeneous neighborhood look.

From out in Southern California comes word of a small but impressive architecturally conscious project—one noteworthy on a number of fronts. Appropriately, last week’s national rollout came from the Business Insider magazine. That’s appropriate when you consider that the price tags attached to residences in the project—“The Case”—will prohibit buyer interest from all but heavyweight business titans. At $40 million – $100 million per, the five houses being built by developer Scott Gillen easily fall into the self-described “super-luxe” category. Once completed, the five will find themselves nestled within one of the few gated communities in Malibu. Since it took Gillen eleven years to get his 24-acre project approved by the notoriously fussy California Coastal Commission, it’s a good bet that “The Case” may be the last.

The astronomical price tags are easy to understand when you consider the exclusivity of the enclave, its security provisions, and its architectural bona fides:

Exclusivity. Not debatable. Come on! The humblest neighbor’s house costs $40,000,000.

Security. Since The Case is sited atop a 200’ bluff with a 360-degree outlook, the place is strategically similar to what ancient kings demanded when deciding where to build their castles. No moat, maybe, but the head of security is Gavin deBecker, who will be in charge of keeping everything “paparazzi-proof.” He’s the fellow Jeff Bezos tapped to find out who leaked his text messages. As a final measure of security, each house is fitted with a water cannon “that rises from the ground to fight fires.” Private firefighting personnel is also envisioned. Security: check!

Architectural Pedigree: “The Case” development is to be an homage to the famous “Case Study” houses—iconic experimental homes designed by Eames, Neutra, and Saarinen in the mid-20th century. The first six of those houses were recognized as “Blueprints for Modern Living”—visionary examples of modern design and efficiency. They attracted more than 350,000 visitors to Los Angeles.

“The Case” houses are promoted as updated versions of the Case Study’s mid-century modern architecture—but with at least one notable difference. The Getty Research Institute says that the originals “promoted economical construction concepts.” That feature is clearly missing from these updates. Today’s typical Greenwich architecture is most definitely more economically grounded with the highest price house on the market for less than $30 million.


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