Property Close to Famous Hollywood Sign for Sale in L.A.

Tue April 15, 2008 - West Edition
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LOS ANGELES (AP) A mountaintop property located near the Hollywood sign and once owned by Howard Hughes is up for sale.

A group of Chicago investors put the 138 acres of land just west of the “H” in the sign on the market Feb. 13.

The asking price: $22 million.

The property offers a stunning 360-degree panorama of the Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley, said Fox River Financial Resources, which acquired the land in 2002 for $1,675,000.

“We weren’t sure at first what we had,” Fox River general partner Keith Dickson said Feb. 13. “After looking at it, we kind of feel we got a Van Gogh at garage sale.”

Hughes once planned to build a love nest on the land for his then-paramour Ginger Rogers. Their relationship didn’t last, and the property remained undeveloped and in the eccentric billionaire’s trust for decades.

The land atop the 1,820-ft. Cahuenga Peak consists of five legal lots and “the ridges on the top are nice and smooth,” allowing for construction of homes, Dickson said.

The Hollywood sign is just below and east of the property.

Councilman Tom LaBonge, who led a fundraising effort by city officials and conservationists to buy the property and make it part of Griffith Park, said building homes on the peak would ruin one of the city’s most famous views.

“The Hollywood sign is a powerful part of our identity and what is extremely important about it is it’s natural around it,” Labonge said. “Having development around it would be outrageous.”

He said officials raised $5 million of the $6 million an appraiser told them the land was worth. He said would have the city attorney, legal analysts and parks department redouble their efforts to secure the property’s purchase.

Griffith Park suffered two damaging wildfires last year amid extremely dry, hot conditions. A blaze in May burned 800 acres, and one in March tore through the hills near the Hollywood sign and burned 150 acres.