The 40,000-odd visitors to Modernism Week 2014 were made well aware of the Mid-Century Modern homes in Palm Springs, but they may not be aware of the trove available in other parts of the Valley. At the same time the modernist architects like William Cody, Albert Frey, Krisel and Donald Wexler, to name a few, designed homes in Palm Springs, they did too in Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta and Indio.
It is very difficult to find exact numbers, but we do have some historical sales data. Based on the Desert Area Multiple Listing Service, there have been about 7,200 residential sales since 1998 in Palm Springs of mid-century (approximately 1949-1969) homes. Not all of these are Mid-Century Modern, but some good portion are.
According to the same criteria we should find MCM in good numbers In the five cities mentioned above, where there were about 11,000 Mid-Century sales, more than in Palm Springs. The average sales price over the period 1998-2014 was about $388,000 in Palm Springs, $435,000 in Rancho Mirage and $424,000 in Indian Wells. Continue reading “Modernism Lives Beyond Palm Springs”
Old Las Palmas has one of the largest population of homes in Palm Springs that are owned by celebrities. Many of the homes date back to the 1920’s, when it was developed by Alvah Hicks, a builder from New York, and his son Harold. It was a citrus grove before being developed into one of the most prestigious areas of Palm Springs. Back in the 50’s and 60’s Old Las Palmas had many well known celebrities as residents, Liberace, Alan Ladd, Rudy Vallee, Edgar Bergen, and George Hamilton to name a few.
Old Las Palmas is very convenient, and within walking distance to downtown Palm Springs. There are many special advantages to living in Old Las Palmas.
Today, Old Las Palmas is recognized as one of the premier locations in Palm Springs with manicured estates and magnificent views of the San Jacinto mountains.
VISTA LAS PALMAS
Vista Las Palmas – the Beverly Hills of Palm Springs, used to be the place where many Los Angeles Celebrities and Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin known as the “Rat Pack” would vacation in the 50”s and it became known as the Beverly Hills of Palm Springs.
Nestled between the San Jacinto Mountains and downtown Palm Springs, it made it the perfect place to build “Alexander Homes” done by Architect William Krisel. Vista Las Palmas still features many of them in todays so popular mid-century modern era. Alexander architecture is nowadays well known with their roof styles such as butterfly, low-gabled and folded plate, post & beam construction, clerestory windows, center halls and large lots. “Swiss Misses” became also popular with their double A-frame designed by Charles Dubois and still can be found today in Vista Las Palmas.
Mid-century modern rules the Vista Las Palmas area and many of the older original homes have been restored, remodeled and modernized and increased tremendously in value over the last years.
Home prices in Old Las Palmas and Vista Las Palmas range from $750,000 to $10 Million+.
DEEPWELL and DEEPWELL RANCH
This is one of those neighborhoods within the city of Palm Springs that is as rich with history as any, but may not be as well-known.
In 1952 Deepwell was officially started as a subdivision. It is a neighborhood filled with rich history, but it is not as well known as some areas of Palm Springs. It has a colorful and long history as a very important part of Palm Springs.
In 1926, Henry Pearson a scientist, bought the area that is known today as the Deepwell Ranch property. He dug his first well and discovered water as deep as 630 feet. This is the deepest well in the Coachella Valley. This is why the property became known as Deepwell Ranch.
Today, a drive through the streets of this neighborhood is great fun, but better yet, rent some bikes and ride these quite streets and enjoy one the of oldest neighborhoods of Palm Springs.
The price of homes in Deepwell and Deepwell Ranch range from $400,000 to $1,200,000+.
During Modernism Week 2011, Park Imperial South on South Araby Drive in Palm Springs celebrated its 50th birthday and invited the public to tour its 31-unit condominium community. Created in 1960 by one of the nation’s most noted residential architects, Barry Berkus, AIA, Park Imperial South’s remarkable Mid Century Modern design still thrives and remains virtually untouched.
The Alexander Weekend, March 25-27, 2011, celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation’s inaugural event in 2001 that first recognized the Alexander Construction Company’s significant contributions to modernist residential architecture in Palm Springs.
In conjunction with its first Great Alexander Weekend, the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation published a tribute journal entitled When Mod Went Mass: A Celebration of Alexander Homes. The weekend and tribute journal launched a growing appreciation of the seminal role the Alexander Construction Company played in the creation of Palm Springs’ “built environment.” It also brought to the forefront the architectural importance of those Alexander-built tract homes designed by architects William Krisel and Donald Wexler.
Mid-Century modern is an architectural, interior and product design form that generally describes mid-20th century development in modern design, architecture and urban development from roughly 1933 to the late 1960s (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mid-century-modern).
The term, coined by Cara Greenberg for her book, Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s, published in 1983 by Random House, is now recognized by scholars and museums worldwide as a significant design movement.
What is Modernism?
Before World War II, architecture and furniture styles emphasized hand craftsmanship — ornate detail and traditional materials like dark, heavy woods. However, decades earlier, the visual arts, painting and sculpture had already been influenced by a movement called “modernism” with a visual emphasis on clean lines, contrast, elevation and innovative style and form.
French Impressionists, such as Matisse, Picasso, and symbolists in literature, Ezra Pound, T.S. Elliott, were among the early modernist artists and writers.
Modernism “questions the axioms of the previous age,” and is a cultural movement of changes in Western society beginning in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It reflects a trend of thought that human beings can create, improve and reshape the environment through practical experimentation, scientific knowledge and technology. Along with new artistic and philosophical trends, social, political and economic were forces at work – industrialization (en.Wikipedia.org//wiki/Modernism).
In the Palm Springs area, the only homes that are selling are at 30-50% discounts. Many would-be home buyers seem to be holding back in fear (or hope) that prices will fall some more. If you believe in Buy Low you should be wary of trying to buy at the bottom – that is very hard to do. It’s better to get most of the benefit of the low, than to miss it altogether. Median prices were actually lower last year than now.
It does look as if prices may fall again, but I may be wrong . In the opinion of some, we saw prices rise last year due to various government stimulus programs, and they could rise again if private investment increases. We have seen unemployment increase and that will increase the number of foreclosures. The impact of new foreclosures should be minimal because we have seen the banks meter them onto the market about as fast as they are selling, which has kept prices stable.
Could a meaningful drop of 20% or more still happen? If a Mid-Century Modern home was $500,000 at the peak, it is possibly worth around $300,000 now (a 40% drop). I don’t believe it can go down to $200,000 (down 60%). Could it go down 15% from $300,000 to $255,000? It is possible, but a slight market improvement could keep the price steady or slightly increase it, as happened over the last year. Meanwhile the buyer is still looking and we are getting closer to the time when prices will definitely increase.
Some sellers are waiting too. If they need to sell, there isn’t much point in waiting for the return to high prices. That won’t happen for many years. They are likely better off selling now to start a new financial or housing base rather than dealing with an uncertain future.
For both Buyers and Sellers, there is a financial risk of doing nothing, and you may miss the chance of finding that perfect Kreisel Alexander or Walter S. White.
Architect John Lautner’s Elrod House Now On the Market
Architect John Lautner’s iconic Arthur Elrod House (www.johnlautner.org) is back on the market with a price tag of more than $13 million.
The late architect, renowned for his organic structures, composed this amazing home carved into the rugged Southridge foothills overlooking Palm Springs in 1968. The house has been featured extensively in lifestyle, architecture and design magazine articles (www.palmspringslife.com/Palm-Springs-Life/February-2009/Daring-Design) and is best known as the James Bond bachelor pad in Diamonds are Forever. It is one of three buildings in Palm Springs by Lautner: Bob and Dolores Hope’s “space ship” domed home also on Southridge (1979) and the Desert Hot Springs Motel (1947).
The Elrod house contains many Lautner hallmarks: a difficult site, harsh environment, modest entrance that conceals soaring space, and rooms that conversely move between indoors and out. The 8,901-square foot house possesses a daring Mid-Century design and breathtaking vistas. Continue reading “The Elrod House in Palm Springs is For Sale”
Seen in Variety, the LA Times, The Week and Angeleno magazines, this ‘green’ home was conceived by Beverly Hills landscape architect W Garett Carlson. The result is notably significant in uniqueness of concept, materials and execution of a structure at one with its environment. Design elements include rusted steel, concrete, glass, desert sand and indigenous landscaping. A faux boulder facade mimics the famous rock faces in nearby Joshua Tree National Park and hides the home from view. Low energy in-floor thermal warming and cooling is assisted by massively insulated walls, a desert garden on the roof, and the cooler high desert location. Disappearing 10 by 40 foot glass doors completely open the great room to the deck and desert views. Stained concrete floors, CaesarStone counters, upscale stainless appliances, glass tiles, and wood ceiling surround the furnished living spaces. Priced to market, it is well below its 2009 construction cost. Easy driving times to Palm Springs and LA.
Nearby 800,000 acre Joshua Tree National Park has granite monoliths that attract visitors and rock climbers from around the world. The town, an enclave of musicians and artists, continues to grow in popularity, with its own music festival, and an eclectic mix of art galleries, antique and curio stores, cafes and design shops. It is home to the annual Joshua Tree Music Festival. The band U2 stayed and recorded in the town to create their legendary album, ‘The Joshua Tree’.
We see a lot of news about home prices, both good and bad. Nobody can predict the future, but we might find clues about it in the past. The Case-Shiller Home Price Index, captured the California home price collapse in 1990, as shown in the first chart – for high-tier Los Angeles homes. Then the prices had increased by about a factor of two, just like our last bubble, as shown in the second chart. The scale in the first chart has been expanded to show they were very similar bubbles, even to their relative size, shape, duration and the false recoveries in 1991 and 2007. Maybe we can use the 1990’s experience to project our current recovery.
If so, the blue bars show that it took seven years from the peak to just get to the point where prices began a true recovery. Our price recovery may not start until 2013, and this is a worse economic situation than in the 1990’s. In between now and 2013 we may see still lower prices. It is difficult to tell if the small peak we see today is a false recovery or the reaction to an overshoot in the drop, but from the last bubble it is not likely the beginning of recovery. Again historically, that increase around 2013 will be at the rate of inflation, which in the long term is around 2.5% a year. If so, this is relative price stability and isn’t bad news – volatility in home prices is the bad news because neither sellers or buyers know what to expect. – Wayne Longman
We just listed this historically significant “Cody” Mid-Century Modern in Rancho Mirage. This timeless, captivating Cody mid-century modern has been thoroughly updated without loss of its original style and integrity. The angular walls and roofline; open floor plan with generous amounts of glass, are in his classic style. Although believed to be by William F Cody, this has not been confirmed, but the City has designated this home as historically significant. Wonderful news for golfers the new owners are eligible for nomination for membership in Thunderbird Country Club!
Well located in central Rancho Mirage, on an eye-catching, private (approx.) 1/3 acre desert-landscaped corner lot, it has two solid steel gates that open to the circular driveway with a large parking area and double garage. Stonework (Palm Springs Gold) on the house looks the same as that Cody used on his awarding winning Del Marcos Hotel in Palm Springs.
Visitors are greeted with panoramic view of the pool and patio through eight glass panels. To your right is the dining area with patio access, and the kitchen, which has been completely renovated with Caesarstone Quartz countertops, hardwood maple cabinets and new appliances including a Bosch dishwasher. Find cork flooring in these areas, while the rest of the house boasts laminate wood floors, except for the bathrooms. The kitchen has direct access to the garage and laundry area.
The airy living room has the same glowing stonework surrounding the fireplace as found on the front of the house. South facing, it opens to the pool and patio, as do the first master and the third bedroom with a large closet, which has been opened for use as a den. The living room has double sliders that extend this area to the outdoors.
All the bathrooms have been updated. There is salt and pepper terrazzo for the floor and sunken tub in the first master, and Italian tile in the second master- and third bathrooms. The well-separated second master suite has a walk-in shower and private patio.
A cool-deck patio surrounds the 16 x 32 swimming pool with a 10 deep diving end, a fountain, and overlooks attractive desert landscaping with palms, mature cacti and fruit trees. Shade is provided by overhangs and retractable awnings.
All the windows and sliders have been replaced by Low-E double-paned glass with invisible V-Kool film, and most have Mecho mesh window shades. The original 2 x 6 construction has other updates that include two tank-less water heaters, dual-zone air conditioning, newer pool equipment and crushed stone roof.
It shares the same block as the famed Kenaston Residence, used by many Hollywood stars. An outstanding home at a very reasonable price.