Bird Street Week: Landry Strikes Again

Yolanda keeps a wee little list — a cheat sheet, if you will — of juicy upcoming stories we plan to write about. Just to make sure nothing falls through the cracks, you see. As we were looking at our jumbled handful of blurbs, trying to decide which ones to discuss this week, we noticed that about half of our items centered around properties in the ever-popular “Bird Streets” neighborhood of the Hollywood Hills. How about we discuss all of those in one big block, hmm?

So, this week is going to be nothing but Birds and Birds and more Birds. Provided no other unforseen “urgent” stories spill out or we get bored, of course.

Oft-maligned yet enormously successful mega-minded architect Richard Landry has a new project on his hands, a sleek modern located on a very prime lot in the Bird Streets. (Thanks to our snitch Don Won aka Don Juan for filling us in.) We don’t know why a client would pick someone like Mr. Landry to design an ultra-chic contemporary hilltop residence versus, say, an architect who actually specializes in that sort of thing. After all, Mr. Landry is much better known as a Faux-French-Palace specialist than a contemporary master.

But who are we to reason why; who are we but to do and die? Apparently a certain client wanted Landry and Landry alone to do up his house, and Mr. Landry happily obliged. That client is our boy Ted Waitt.

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The earthy-toned modern appears deceptively modest from the street, with some native grasses and olive trees adorning the drive up to a compact motor court. The graceful covered parking area is a cheerful throwback a bygone era. So far so good. Yolanda also appreciates that the view from the front door extends directly through the house and to the LA basin below. The pizza delivery man bringing a late-night snack will certainly be impressed with carpet of big buildings beneath his feet.

But what we don’t get are those black marble slabs and the concrete ones off to the right. Yes, we get that Mr. Waitt wants his privacy and probably doesn’t care for random fools driving down the street and watching him eat his organic tomato soup at the dining room table. But all those materials — the marble, the concrete, the glass, the wood roof — seem a bit disjointed somehow.

Is Yolanda being overly nit-picky? Are we beating up on a nice design just because Landry makes such a perfect punching-bag? Feel free to psychoanalyze your gurl.

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The house drops down mullet-style to two floors out back. We’ll get the proverbial elephant out of the way and address that pool before we venture any further. Yes, the infinity edge running the entire length of the residence is certainly dramatic and yes, it makes a nice patio cover for the lower level’s outdoor seating area. But damn, we sure wouldn’t want to be holding a party on that lower patio when The Big One finally hits, right?

From what we can tell of the interiors, the upper level is for event entertaining and the lower is mostly the private quarters and for low-key family events and such. Ceiling heights appear to be 5x beyond normal human scale, which is to be expected of Landry, a guy who apparently has never met an awkward proportion he didn’t fall truly, madly, deeply in love with.

We don’t know, y’all, but is Yolanda the only one bothered by the pool’s position? Kind of an eyesore, right?

Now that we’ve finished taking our cheap shots at Landry, let’s dwell more on Mr. Waitt, an Iowa native who co-founded the Gateway computer brand on his father’s cattle ranch back in the 1980s. And yes, he’s the guy most people credit with the rather iconic “Holstein cow design” packaging.

Waitt sold much of his Gateway stock during the dot-com boom of the early 2000s for more than a billion bucks — probably a wise move, considering Gateway (the entire company) was sold off in 2005 for $710 million. Forbes had Mr. Waitt on their billionaires list until 2009, when a bigtime divorce settlement dropped his net worth down from a high of $1.7 billion to “only” about $900 million or so. It’s always cheaper to keep her, Mr. Waitt.

After his divorce, Mr. Waitt moved to LA and is now married to his second wife, model/TV presenter Michele Merkin. (Yes, that’s really her last name).

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Ms. Merkin & Mr. Waitt

Despite his aforementioned drop in fortune, Mr. Waitt is clearly not hurting for cash. Not only can he afford Landry’s hefty architecture fees, he also can afford to spend more than $20 million for a patch of dirt. That’s right, Mr. Waitt paid $20,500,000 for his Bird Streets lot back in August 2013. At that time, the property was already equipped with a mansion of 6,500-square-feet (or so).

Known as the “Esquire House 2010” the 1-acre property was once the neighborhood hotspot for booze-friendly ragers, sex parties, and all sorts of friendly glitzy debauchery for LA’s social climbers back in 2010. In early 2011, it was purchased by Oracle heiress Megan Ellison for $13,750,000. She lived in the house for only a couple years before flipping it at a major profit to Mr. Waitt, who opted to reduce it to the giant bed of soil it currently is.

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Anywho, Mr. Waitt is hardly an LA real estate virgin. Back in August 2011, he popped his cherry by paying $11,525,000 for a 5,000+ square foot contemporary house located on a different but no less legendary Bird Streets street. Some of his neighbors included RuPaul, Dan Bilzerian, Whitney Kroenke, Avicii, Lori Milgard, Joan Dangerfield, and Matthew Perry.

He sold the property at what appears to be a major profit this April (2016) for $15,500,000 to Latvian bazillionaires/philanthropists Boris & Inara Teterev.

In July 2012, Mr. Waitt paid $14,000,000 for a nearly 9,000-square-foot mock-Med compound in a prime lower Bel Air neighborhood that was exuberantly described in marketing materials as “ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT VIEW PROMONTORIES IN LOWER BEL-AIR.”

We don’t know if he just he got bored with the house, found the neighborhood too stodgy, or simply saw an opportunity to make a buck, but records reveal he owned the estate for only 10 months before flipping it for $16,000,000 to Alex Khadavi, an LA-based dermatologist.

As an aside, Dr. Khadavi — whose hobby appears to be performing plastic surgery on himself — was recently served with a restraining order by “Million Dollar Listing” stars Josh & Matt Altman. According to Matt, Mr. Khadavi made several anti-Semitic and homophobic comments to him and has otherwise been viciously harassing and even threatening to kill the brothers for years. (Or perhaps permanently maim them with really crappy plastic surgery? We joke!)

Well, we never! Please settle down, ladies. We wouldn’t want any of y’all to ruin a perfectly good manicure.

But we digress. By July 2015, Mr. Waitt (who seems to get a new house every dang year) paid $10,300,000 for a rather matronly if classy Beverly Hills house located on a quiet cul-de-sac just off Coldwater Canyon. We assume without any direct evidence that this place is a “crash pad” he and Ms. Merkin will use until his new Landry dream is complete.

Designed by accomplished architect Gerard Colcord, the elegant single-story sprawler has 6 beds and 7 baths in 6,700 square feet of living space.

BTW, Yolanda thinks she’s finally put her finger on what we don’t like about that Landry place. The views are fantastic, the glassy walls are nice, but it’s all just so damn ordinary now. All these houses going up in the Bird Streets, Trousdale Estates, Bel Air, etc, etc. They all look like this! Expensive materials, views galore, panty-dropping everything, and just plain tragic in totality.

We don’t doubt it will be a fun house for a party, but to actually live in day-to-day? Jury’s still out.

Think we’re lying? Wait ’til you see some of the other places we discuss this week. Trust us, this particular horse is already dead and repeatedly posthumously beaten.

 

 

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