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The Greystone mansion in Beverly Hills

At Jan 08, 2016

The Greystone mansion in Beverly Hills, has a notorious past: built by the immense wealth of oil barons, touched by a scandal involving corruption and the scene of a murder never fully explained. It was eventually left to deteriorate until it gained a new life as a national landmark and property of the City of Beverly Hills. The imposing castle on a hill has a story to rival any movie plot, which may be appropriate for an estate in the heart of Beverly Hills.

The story of Greystone begins in 1892, when a broke Doheny Sr. realized the potential of the oil tar that was being used locally in place of coal. He borrowed the $400 he needed to lease a promising piece of land…then literally began digging for oil with a pick and shovel, because he couldn’t afford a drilling rig. Surprisingly, he managed to strike oil in what would be the first oil well in Los Angeles.

He later purchased a property in Mexico which became the greatest oil discovery in history, producing a quarter million barrels of oil per day at its peak. And Doheny Sr. became an extremely wealthy man.

What does one do with such wealth? Doheny Sr. decided to build the grandest mansion in Southern California for his son Ned and his family. He already owned the 429-acre Doheny Ranch, a working cattle ranch with avocado and citrus groves. He set aside 22 acres of it for the new estate, then hired architect Gordon B. Kaufmann and landscape designer Paul G. Thiene to construct a $4 million English Tudor-style castle which radiated stateliness and grandeur. From the gray stone façade to marble staircases, vaulted ceilings and a terrace with a view of the Los Angeles Basin, Greystone was the epitome of old money.

Unfortunately, the Doheny’s became involved in a national scandal when they loaned money to a friend to cover his back taxes. But it wasn’t just any friend: they loaned money to Albert Fall, the secretary of the interior who was in charge of government oil reserves. And they didn’t just loan him money: they hand-delivered $100,000 cash to him, bundled with rubber bands. When Fall got a law changed which opened up government oil reserves to private development, the resulting Teapot Dome Scandal embroiled Fall and the Doheny’s in civil and criminal trials for years.

Greystone became a retreat from the harsh glare of the public spotlight. But tragedy followed the Doheny’s home. Ned Doheny and his family had barely begun enjoying the mansion when Hugh Plunkett showed up at the estate. Plunkett, Ned’s secretary and friend, had been involved in delivering the money to Fall. Ned called a family doctor to treat the agitated Plunkett; the doctor arrived in time to hear two gunshots. Plunkett was dead and Ned was dying. It was clearly a murder-suicide. But who was the murderer? And why? The Los Angeles District Attorney squelched the investigation, but rumors abounded. Were Ned and Hugh lovers? Or was Plunkett distressed at the possibility of going to jail for his involvement in Teapot Dome?

After Ned’s death, his widow remarried and moved from Greystone. The estate gradually deteriorated until 1965, when the City of Beverly Hills purchased the grounds to build a new reservoir. The American Film Institute leased and repaired the building in 1969. But ultimately, the City declared Greystone a public park and it became a national landmark.

It is no longer occupied, but it still draws filmmakers, photographers, weddings…and witnesses who have seen the ghost of a weeping woman wandering the halls, one last mystery for a national landmark with a storied, if tragic, past.

Written by the David Kramer Group | Based on an article in the Book, The Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills, By Jeff Hyland 

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Beverly House on North Beverly. Pink Mediterranean mansion famous for William Randolph Hearst and “The Godfather”

At Nov 27, 2015

Beverly House, on North Beverly Drive, was not the first residence that famous couple William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies shared. It wasn’t even the largest and most extravagant residence they shared—that honor goes to Hearst Castle in San Simeon. However, it is a beautiful estate in its own right, and the home in which the couple spent Hearst’s last years, and where Davies lived until her later death.

William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies: their story was one of the most famous love stories of the Golden Age of Hollywood. He was a newspaper publishing magnate and she a beautiful young starlet who became an unlikely but loving couple. They met in 1917 when she was twenty and he was fifty-four; they stayed together for thirty four years, until his death in 1951.

His wife Mildred agreed to separate from Hearst and live in New York while he lived in California with Davies as his mistress, where they bought a series of properties. They started with a mansion at 1700 Lexington Road in Beverly Hills. Hearst also bought Marion a hundred-room beach house in Santa Monica. And their most famous residence is the one that bears his name today: Hearst Castle. Located on 127 acres with the house itself on the highest hilltop in San Simeon, the castle became the site of expensive parties for the Hollywood elite.

However, at the age of eighty-four, Hearst developed health issues that made it necessary for him the move closer to Los Angeles. Of course, the man who was used to living in a castle on a hill wanted absolute privacy. So Marion Davies bought him the property at North Beverly Drive. It sat on only eight acres but it was on a hilltop above any neighbors, with panoramic views of Coldwater Canyon Park. While it cost the original owner, Milton Getz, $1 million to build the estate, Marion bought Beverly House in 1946 for the bargain price of $120,000.

Getz had built a Mediterranean mansion finished in pink stucco. Notable features of the gorgeous H-shaped home included a two-story library of rare books, a formal dining room, a ballroom, an airy tiled hallway that runs the length of the house, and a billiard room which holds a stone mantel place Davies had shipped in from San Simeon. But the true gem of the property is the series of three pools cascading down the slope behind the house, framed by Venetian arches, beneath a huge outdoor terrace.

Beverly House became a honeymoon spot for John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. Later, the mansion was used as the set for various movies, including “The Godfather” – the famous scene with the horse’s head was filmed here.

Marion continued to live at the property until her death in 1961. After her death, the estate was ultimately sold to new owners. But Marion’s portrait continues to hang in the billiard room, a reminder of the powerful and glamorous couple that once lived there.

Written by the David Kramer Group | Based on an article in the Book, The Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills, By Jeff Hyland 

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Hollywood Hills home has a whole cast of notable names in its past -LA TIMES

At Nov 24, 2015

Hollywood Hills home has a whole cast of notable names in its past

 

A Hollywood Hills home with a cast of characters in its history is for sale at $4.199 million.

Built in 1940, the Traditional-style home was redesigned by architect Frank Gehry in the 1980s to add loft-like contemporary spaces with windows bringing in natural light and looking out onto the swimming pool area. Gehry is known for his innovative work on downtown Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

During “MASH” star Sally Kellerman’s ownership, she hired then-carpenter and future box-office giant Harrison Ford to work on the 4,412-square-foot home.

Early last year the property changed hands for $1.402 million and then again for $1.9 million, public records show.

Set on a quarter-acre, the recently renovated house features a living room, two family rooms, a large kitchen and dining space, five bedrooms and six bathrooms.

David Kramer of Hilton & Hyland, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, and John Galich of Rodeo Realty are the listing agents.

 

See this listing  0r See the article 

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Golden Age of Hollywood

At Oct 30, 2015

The Jack Warner Estate on Angelo Drive is one of the few – and certainly one of the most magnificent – remaining properties from the Golden Age of Hollywood. There are many gorgeous modern properties in Beverly Hills but they don’t have the rich history of this iconic home.

Just as the estate is larger than life, so was the man who built it: Jack Warner of Warner Brothers Studios. He formed the studio with three brothers. They capitalized on sound in movies in its earliest days and produced Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer in 1927, which became a huge success, the first of many for the studio.

With his newfound wealth, Jack Warner bought the property on Angelo Drive for his first wife, Irma. However, Irma wasn’t enough for her philandering husband. A young actress named Ann Alvarado Page caught his eye. Jack Warner decided she would make the perfect trophy wife for a studio head…and he didn’t let the fact that they were both married to other people at the time stand in his way. They divorced from their spouses and, in 1936, married each other.

There was one hitch though: Ann refused to live in “another woman’s home.” Jack Warner’s solution? He loved the property on Angelo Drive, but he leveled the Spanish-style mansion that already existed and then took a decade to build a new mansion from scratch that would suit his new bride.

Warner spared no expense, either. He brought in famous architect Ronald E. Coate, who decided on a Georgian Revival style that featured six large Greek columns. The result was simple but stunning.
Warner brought in designer William Haines to oversee the $1 million plus project of designing the mansion’s interiors. Haines played off of the simple architectural lines of the house although he infused the interiors with Ann Warner’s interest in Buddhism, and his own trademarks: Chinese wallpaper, Louis XVI furniture and whimsy.

And Warner brought in landscape architect Florence Yoch, who had worked on both Hollywood estates and movie sets, to design the grounds which spanned nine acres. She bulldozed the existing gardens and used her $100,000 budget to install formal and informal gardens, guesthouses, and greenhouses.
The result was a glamorous spot where the Warners entertained the likes of Howard Hughes, Albert Einstein and Madame Chiang Kai-shek. And it remains a tribute to the wealth and history of Old Hollywood.

Written by the David Kramer Group | Based on an article in the Book, The Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills, By Jeff Hyland 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Seventy-Acre Tranquil Oasis Hacienda Palancar Listed for Sale on the Caribbean Coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula near Tulum

At Aug 05, 2015

 

LOS ANGELES, May 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Hilton & Hyland’s David Kramer, Trista Rullan, and Rick Hilton recently listed Hacienda Palancar – a romantic Hacienda on the Caribbean coast of Mexico’s mystical Yucatan Peninsula.  This unique gem of a property is only eight miles (13 kilometers) from the renowned town of Tulum in Quintana Roo.

This luxurious family compound is comprised of 13 bedrooms and 16½ baths within 19,000 square feet (1,765 square meters) and is situated upon 70 acres (28 hectares), including over 2,000 feet (655 meters) of incomparable, white sand beach.  The Hacienda stands amidst forest rich in indigenous flora and fauna and glorious landscaping with coco palms, lawns, a pool, and fountains.

In addition to its subtle artistry and deep aesthetic, this Hacienda has exceedingly distinctive strength in construction and design.  Borrowing details from Spanish and Moorish architecture, Palancar offers fabulous miradors that extend the length of the two main buildings to create a perfect venue for dining under the stars.  Exquisite local stone detailing are found throughout the estate, along with the lavish use of Spanish tiles.  The main buildings have exceptional Anglo-Indian antiques and custom built-ins made to order inIndia.

The infrastructure is self-sustaining and built to last.  Palancar has one of the largest arrays of solar panels in private hands in Mexico, aided by state-of-the-art generators when needed. Underground filtration systems, together with rain catchment systems, all ensure plentiful supplies of fresh water.  Sophisticated systems for video conferencing and Wi-Fi are integrated throughout the property, with private reception towers for improved connectivity.  Also included are both satellite television and a state-of-the-art security system featuring 25 cameras for greater privacy.

The site was chosen for its unparalleled location on the pristine Caribbean coast between two unique bodies of water. The warm, azure sea to the east is protected by the second largest barrier reef in the world and the sweet water Capechen Lagoon to the west invites you to relax under your palapa on the private dock or take a boat ride for world class fly fishing.

This incredible, unrivaled paradise is fully furnished.  It is listed for US $30,000,000.

To learn more about Hacienda Palancar, please contact listing agents David Kramer at David@DavidKramer.com or +1 310.770.2879, or Trista Rullan at trista@trista.tv or +1 310.858.5476, or visit www.haciendapalancar.com.

About Hilton & Hyland

Beverly Hills based Hilton & Hyland (hiltonhyland.com) was established in 1993 as a boutique real estate firm to provide extremely personalized service to buyers and sellers of luxury properties. Founders Rick Hilton, grandson of the famous hotel developer, andJeff Hyland, one of the most recognizable figures in Los Angeles real estate, have built their company from the ground up. Hilton & Hyland is the Founding Member of Christie’s International Real Estate and is the exclusive affiliate of Luxury Portfolio, expanding their international reach to over 650 affiliates worldwide.  In the 2014 REAL Trends “The Thousand” annual report, 12 Hilton & Hyland associates ranked in the top 150 agents in the U.S. by sales volume, the highest number of any brokerage in Los Angeles.  With over$2.9 billion in transactions in 2014, Hilton & Hyland is recognized as the top luxury real estate firm in Los Angeles.

Media Contact:
Charles L. Black III
Executive Vice President
Marketing & Strategic Development
Charles@HIltonHyland.com
+1 310.800.6385

 

SOURCE Hilton & Hyland

RELATED LINKS
http://www.hiltonhyland.com

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Tech Money Brings New Players to Los Angeles’ Real Estate Game – MANSION TECH

At Apr 13, 2016

With new properties ranging from hillside mansions to opulent downtown lofts, Los Angeles’ luxury real estate market is enjoying a boomlet. In addition to the usual suspects—Hollywood money, Pacific Rim investor —a new player is driving demand up for prime residential units

The city’s tech scene, dubbed “Silicon Beach” for its concentration in Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Playa Vista, is attracting millionaires and billionaires at a rate that may soon rival San Francisco and New York.

Tesla and SpaceX’s Elon Musk, for instance, lives in a 20,000-square-foot Bel Air home, which he purchased for $17 million in 2013; he owns another home closer to SpaceX’s headquarters, which cost $6.75 million. Evan Spiegel, CEO of social media giant Snapchat, finally moved out of his parents’ house in late 2014 and into a $3.3 million, three-bedroom home in posh Brentwood.

Even non-resident tech moguls are buying in. Napster co-founder Sean Parker bought the modernist icon Brody House in Holmby Hills from Ellen DeGeneres for nearly $39 million in 2014; Minecraft creator Markus Persson spent $70 million on a Beverly Hills spec mega-mansion after his game was acquired by Microsoft for $2.5 billion.

Five years ago, these sales would’ve been attached to Hollywood A-listers. Today, it’s bold-faced names from the business pages: Jeff Bezos ($24.5 million for his Beverly Hills compound), Google’s Eric Schmidt ($22 million for Gregory Peck’s old estate) and Gateway co-founder Ted Waitt ($10.3 million on a Beverly Hills home), to name just three.

While the most aggressive purchases were made between 2013 to 2014, Silicon Beach continues to spur luxury demand in the city. Local agents are starting to notice certain trends.

“Buyers from the tech world…don’t want to do extensive work on a property,” said Greg Harris, estate director at luxury firm Compass. “They don’t have the interest or bandwidth for that.” Harris also noted that they’re especially interested in properties in walking and biking proximity to their jobs.

David Kramer of the David Kramer Group pointed out that these buyers tend to skew much younger than others in the market. They “haven’t gotten to having families yet,” he said.

Buyers from the tech world can be separated into three broad categories: out-of-towners looking for showcase homes; engineers buying deluxe digs within commuting distance of their workplaces; and post-exit founders and venture capitalists with more flexibility, time and money.

One complicating factor in Los Angeles is the city’s well-known traffic; an overwhelmed local infrastructure and the region’s multinodal nature make long commutes especially unattractive for tech workers who work long hours. This has led to sharp price increases in neighborhoods adjacent to Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Playa Vista, where most of the tech companies are headquartered.

This shift of money is changing the West Side’s socioeconomic landscape. In 2011, for example, Google came under fire for opening its new complex in a part of Venice Beach with an extensive homeless population. Five years later, homes in walking and biking distance of this local Googleplex are among the area’s most desirable and expensive. In neighboring Santa Monica, property values have risen 14.7% over the past year.

Kramer sees a fundamentally changed house-hunting process. “When I started 25 years ago, people wanted to be in the hills,” he said. “Now they want to be in the center of things where they can walk… It is much more like New York now; people desire things like higher density that previously were considered undesirable.”

The tech scene still isn’t the biggest driver of Los Angeles’ residential real estate boom — for that, you’d still have to blame the entertainment industry and foreign buyers — but it has added a new element to a local market that is both profitable and unpredictable.

Original Article 

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Lessons from the Ultimate Safe Houses

At Aug 05, 2015

OB-VE553_1101di_P_20121031163458 OB-VE555_1101di_P_20121031163743Lessons from the Ultimate Safe Houses
The hard-core homeowners who fortify themselves against any possible calamity—from hurricanes to nuclear attack—are testing materials and technology that could change home building for the rest of us.
Candace Jackson looks at homes built to withstand every possible type of disastrous scenario imaginable, from storms to earthquakes to wildfires. Photo: Michal Czerwonka for The Wall Street Journal.

By CANDACE JACKSON
Updated Nov. 1, 2012 9:54 p.m. ET

The Corbi family’s house looks like many other modern homes in the Hollywood Hills, with white walls, large glass windows and views of downtown Los Angeles. But it has some key differences from its neighbors. The house has been built to withstand nearly every type of disaster scenario imaginable, from storms to high-magnitude earthquakes to wildfires to pandemic to a rare but potentially crippling high-frequency electromagnetic pulse attack triggered by a nuclear bomb, solar flare or specialized weapon. A wine cellar in the basement doubles as an underground bunker. If all else fails, a rooftop helipad allows for a last-ditch emergency exit.

The Corbi family’s home in Hollywood Hills, Calif., pictured above, has been built to withstand nearly every type of disaster scenario imaginable. MICHAL CZERWONKA FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Various stills of Pensmore, TF Forming Systems, and Helix technology ENLARGE
Various stills of Pensmore, TF Forming Systems, and Helix technology PENSMORE
More home builders and buyers are chasing a new kind of security: homes equipped to handle everything from hurricanes, tornados and hybrid superstorms like this week’s Sandy, to man-made threats ranging from home invasion to nuclear war. Some, rebuilding in frequently storm-tossed areas, are looking to better withstand the next disaster; others are hoping to create a safeguard against any possible calamity. Fueling the rise of these often-fortresslike homes are new technologies and building materials—which builders say will ultimately be used on a more widespread basis in storm- and earthquake-threatened areas.

Sean Murphy, of Miami-based Coastal Construction, is building a 40,000-square-foot waterfront estate for a client in South Florida that’s designed to withstand a major hurricane or worse. The home’s owner, whom he declined to identify, has ordered 12-inch-thick reinforced concrete walls wrapped in a rubberized material for added waterproofing, clad in 2-inch stone. Typical storm-resistant building techniques call for about 8 inches of concrete composite block to wind- and waterproof a home.
“It’s basically a bunker-style home we’re talking about,” he says. “If you had a major storm, a major flood, a major anything, this home is not going anywhere.”

Some new developments are marketing storm-resistant designs to a growing pool of buyers. Alys Beach is a 158-acre luxury seaside community on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Its homes, which start at $1.6 million, are designed to evoke Bermudan and Guatemalan homes with interior courtyards—and to withstand strong winds. The roofs have two coats of limestone and exterior walls have 8 inches of concrete, reinforced every 32 inches for “bunkerlike” safety, according to marketing materials.

 

In the Midwest, Steve Huff is aiming to build the ultimate tornado-proof home. Mr. Huff, a software entrepreneur, is building a 70,000-square-foot reinforced-concrete, chateau-style home in rural Christian County, Mo. The home, known as Pensmore, has 12-inch-thick walls and ballistic-proof windows that have been tested to withstand the equivalent of a two-by-four board traveling at 40 miles an hour, mimicking the speed at which debris can be hurtled during a big storm. “If a tornado came up, you’d be foolish to leave this house,” Mr. Huff says.

Mr. Huff, who is an investor in a concrete company, says that the home will also be resistant to intruders: “It would be like trying to drill your way through a bank vault.”

When it is completed in early 2014, it will be one of the largest private homes in America. Mr. Huff says he plans to have lots of extended family stay with him, as well as visiting writers, scientists and other students who may want to study the safety and environmentally sustainable technologies used to construct the home.
Mr. Huff says homeowners and builders can apply many of the same techniques on a broader scale to make homes more resistant to natural disasters. For example, helix fibers within the concrete blocks make them slightly bendable like rubber, and better able to withstand impact, with minimal additional cost.
Doug Buck, the governmental-affairs director for the Florida Home Builders Association, says some “extreme” building techniques don’t make financial sense for most homeowners. “You get to a point of diminishing returns,” he says. “You’re going to spend so much that honestly, it would make more sense to let it blow down and rebuild it.”

That doesn’t stop some wealthy homeowners from trying to insulate themselves from every conceivable threat. Chris Pollack, the president of Pollack + Partners, a New York-based design-and-construction adviser that works with wealthy clients, says a client recently hired him to help build a home that came with a dirty-bomb shelter, complete with its own air and water supply. “The family could live pretty comfortably without subjecting themselves to outside air,” he says, including food stockpiles and other provisions. Also growing in popularity: escape tunnels that allow residents to exit to another point on their property or, in urban townhomes, to a nearby building. He estimates that clients are spending on average at least 50% more on security and safety features than they were five years ago.

In Camarillo, Calif., just north of Malibu, Don Boehm built his hillside home to withstand both earthquakes and intruders. It has a complex concrete-and-steel bolting system to keep the retaining walls anchored to a concrete base. A 600-foot-long, 15-foot-high wall surrounds the property. The home is currently on the market for $6.9 million.

Al Corbi, the owner of the Hollywood Hills house and founder of a company called Strategically Armored and Fortified Environments, or SAFE, says he can outfit homes with underground bunkers up to 30 stories below ground. He has designed one bunker in the style of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, with ceilings painted with clouds to give the impression of being outside, as well as spas and movie theaters and enough provisions to keep families entertained for months of underground living. The cost can be upward of $10 million for the most elaborate facilities.

At the Alys Beach resort, the decor is Bermudan but the exterior walls have 8 inches of concrete, reinforced every 32 inches. ENLARGE
At the Alys Beach resort, the decor is Bermudan but the exterior walls have 8 inches of concrete, reinforced every 32 inches. KERRI PRICE
Mr. Corbi built his own Los Angeles home both for his family and to show potential clients the latest in high-tech, high-end disaster protection and security. Constructed atop 60 steel-caged concrete caissons, each 30 feet deep and 30 inches in diameter, his house is designed to survive a high-magnitude earthquake.

A facial-recognition system, including multiple cameras, has also been placed throughout his house. A James Bond-esque fog system can be activated with the blink of an eye as a way to shock intruders. The fog ranges from a harmless-but-disorienting haze to pepper spray to a noxious gas that can debilitate whoever inhales it for up to 24 hours.

Also inside his home is what Mr. Corbi calls a “safe core,” a 2,000-square-foot, ballistic-proof suite that encompasses the master bedroom and children’s rooms. It was designed to isolate homeowners and minimize contact with intruders, a common feature in his clients’ homes. Mr. Corbi previously put the home on the market for $5.8 million but has since taken it off the market.

Mr. Corbi says many of the techniques he uses can easily be applied to any home. For example, spending a couple hundred dollars to add an extra ¾-inch layer of plywood before adding drywall can make walls significantly more storm- and intrusion-resistant, he says. To safeguard against airborne disease, adding HEPA filters along with a slight excess of airflow from air-conditioning units creates a positive-pressure system where a surplus of air is emitted from a house to prevent outside air from coming in.

The interiors pictured here look ordinary, but they’re designed to withstand a multitude of disasters. ENLARGE
The interiors pictured here look ordinary, but they’re designed to withstand a multitude of disasters. MICHAL CZERWONKA FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The home’s iPad-controlled security system ENLARGE
The home’s iPad-controlled security system MICHAL CZERWONKA FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
A bird-flu kit ENLARGE
A bird-flu kit MICHAL CZERWONKA FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Homeowners on a smaller budget—particularly those in disaster-prone areas—are also using more advanced techniques and materials to protect their homes against damage.

Vicki Adjmi of New Orleans lost her home to flooding after the levees broke following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Though her plans to build a new home in New Orleans’s Lakeview neighborhood were already under way before the storm, she scrapped her original design in favor of a more storm-resistant structure. Her architect brother, Morris Adjmi, decided to raise the midcentury-modern-inspired house by several feet, building on top of a hill several feet above the flood line from Hurricane Katrina.

Her builder, Scott Morse, says many of his New Orleans clients are now elevating their main living spaces—putting kitchens and living rooms on the second floor, and using the first floor for nonessential features like rec rooms—to protect important belongings against flooding. He recommends several different types of roofing strengtheners, including one that doesn’t involve shingles, which can easily fly off during storms.

Ms. Adjmi didn’t want to sacrifice some prized design elements—which included large walls of glass—so she tracked down hurricane-resistant windows from Germany that were designed to withstand 150-mile-per-hour winds. During Hurricane Isaac, earlier this year, Ms. Adjmi said she decided to ride out the storm at home. “I didn’t hear anything,” she says. “We were very insulated.”

Building Inside A Wind Tunnel
These folks destroy houses for a living.

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, an insurance-industry-sponsored nonprofit group, built a $40 million facility in 2010 in South Carolina to test homes for various threats, including hurricanes, winds and wildfires. The facility, the size of nine basketball courts, can simulate winds up to 135 miles an hour, mimicking a Category 3 hurricane.

Inside the facility’s wind-tunnel hall, engineers can build homes up to 2,400 square feet and two stories high to pummel in stormlike conditions. Tim Reinhold, the chief engineer, says the team is working to replicate hail samples that it has been collecting so it can simulate major hailstorms.

Homeowners who are looking to build their homes beyond their local municipalities’ code requirements can enroll in the institute’s Fortified Home program, which requires building homes about 30% stronger than local codes, sometimes for a discount on insurance rates. Mr. Reinhold says the building costs are generally about 3% to 10% higher.

Bruce Carrell, a Myrtle Beach, S.C., builder, says he started offering the program to his customers about four years ago; now about half of them are building “fortified” homes.

Though his typical homes are more modest in size, he’s currently working on a 30,000-square-foot lakefront house for a client engineered to survive a Category 5 hurricane—the most extreme house he’s ever built.

The estate will appear to be a Mediterranean/European stucco style house from the outside, but the four-story home is constructed entirely of reinforced concrete. “They wanted to take every precaution they could,” Mr. Carrell says.

—Candace Jackson

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Hacienda Palancar in the Sunday Times

At Aug 05, 2015

Our stunning listing in Mexico, Hacienda Palancar has now been featured in the Sunday Times.

Hacienda Palancar is a unique gem of a property situated in the popular town of Tulum.  In addition to its subtle artistry and deep aesthetic, this Hacienda has great strength of construction and design. The years of planning that went into Hacienda Palancar have resulted in a poetic atmosphere of tranquility, beauty and discreet luxury, as well as a deep a respect for the Reserve in which it exists.

Learn more about this beautiful listing at” http://haciendapalancar.com/

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