February 13th, 2008
Brian Martinez, OCR
A newly built mini mansion dubbed “the jewel of Irvine” by its creators has some University Park residents stunned that their homeowners association approved the boxy, 3,850-square-foot house in their 1960s tract home neighborhood.
The developers – an Irvine family who has purchased, renovated and resold about 40 homes in this city – are asking $1.47 million for the luxurious, five-bedroom contemporary home at 2 Angell, across the street from Wholesome Choice Market near Michelson and Culver. The median home sale price for 2007 in the ZIP code, 92612, was $605,000.
The lot’s previous house was a 2-bedroom, 2 bath 1,500-square-foot single story. Everything visible, inside and out, is brand new.
“It just kind of sticks out,” front-door neighbor Sarah Bonner said. “It would be a beautiful house in the proper neighborhood, but not here.”
R.B. Singh, who lives two streets down from Angell, disagrees. The house looks better than many older homes in Irvine with million-dollar-plus price tags, he said.
“Now, owners in our neighborhood will start doing the same because they know the potential of what they can do with their lots,” Singh said.
The effects of mansionization and modernization of homes have been a hot topic in several O.C. communities such as Brea, Laguna Beach, Fountain Valley and Seal Beach, where residents want to keep the character of their neighborhoods, protect property values, or both.
And homes are getting bigger. The average house size in the United States increased from 1,700 square feet in 1978 to 2,456 square feet in 2006, according to the National Association of Homebuilders.
Owners of four homes near the 2 Angell house said they were surprised that University Community Association – which has a reputation for being strict – approved the project.
“I was shocked – really shocked – to see that house,” resident Jian Vang said.
The community’s five-member board of directors unanimously approved the project in February 2007. The panel found that the design did not violate any of the association’s Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions, and did not make any special exceptions for the project, site manager Scott Mourer said.
Without speaking directly to 2 Angell, Kathy Gonzales of the Community Associations Institute said boards need to be diligent in reviewing all community documents to make sure individual projects are in line with established rules. There have been cases where projects that violate CC&Rs have been mistakenly approved, she said.
While boards do need to look at what is overall visually pleasing in the neighborhood, they cannot legally reject a project simply because they don’t like it, she said.
Architect Sean Abaii and his brother, Aboush, purchased the property with their mother in February 2007 for $640,000. They declined to say how much they invested into the reconstruction.
The new home has a full bedroom suite downstairs ideal for grandparents. The master suite upstairs has a flat-screen TV hookup and a fireplace. The home features six- by-six-foot dual-glazed windows to let in the light but muffle the sound of cars whizzing by on Michelson.
There is a waterfall on the wall facing the Michelson Drive exit of University Park Center. Sean said he wanted to give shoppers something beautiful to look at while exiting the retail complex.
The architect has designed about 75 homes. He drew inspiration for 2 Angell from its surroundings, he said. He said the boxy look is a trend in contemporary design that maximizes interior space.
Aboush, a real estate broker, set the price by inviting people to tour the home and asking them what they thought it was worth. The $1.47 million price tag is about $350,000 below market by his calculations, Aboush said.
Walter Hahn, a real estate economist who lives in Irvine, disagrees.
“They’ll never get anything close to what they are asking,” he said. “Its the wrong location for a big house like that. It’s on a busy street across from a shopping center. It’s double the size of anything in the area. It’s totally out of character with the neighborhood. They should have built it in Turtle Ridge or near the top of Turtle Rock.”
Sean said 2 Angell is ideal for a family who wants to walk to shopping, enjoy the home’s design and benefit from all that Irvine has to offer.
He also pointed out that progressive architecture has replaced many 1940s homes in Corona del Mar, leading to modern looks, larger homes, better standards and higher property values.
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