Santa Barbara’s famed Slavin Home nonetheless looking for purchaser

Slavin Home in Santa Barbara has all of it: impeccable mid-century trendy strains. An outside pool with an expansive ocean view. A star designer — Richard Neutra — who was “one of the crucial influential architects of the 20 th century,” in response to the LA Conservancy

This legendary mid-century trendy house is up on the market in California’s Central Coast, however even within the state’s breakneck actual property market, Slavin Home is languishing. 

A desert home in Palm Springs designed by Richard Neutra for Edgar J. Kaufmann. Lita Baron, far left, approaches Helen Dzo Dzo, left, and Nelda Linsk, spouse of artwork vendor Joseph Linsk.

Slim Aarons/Getty Pictures

Different uncommon gems are extremely wanted, and snapped up for a premium earlier than they even get an opportunity to hit the market. But there’s no indicators of a brand new proprietor on the rapid horizon for 1322 Dover Road, asking $10.5 million.

The position of the house alone ought to draw curiosity with out the marquee title hooked up. The property is seemingly suspended in midair, with panoramic views, and perched excessive above the Pacific. It’s set again from the road on a personal almost 1-acre parcel on probably the most desired street within the Riviera neighborhood — only a 10-minute stroll downhill to Santa Barbara Bowl and the State Avenue business hall. At night time, the downtown lights twinkle earlier than it. In the course of the day, the house is flooded with pure mild. And each sundown into the Pacific comes at you in one thing barely higher than CinemaScope. 

So why is that this Neutra not promoting? 

‘He was, in a phrase, inconceivable’

The architect himself had a storied fame. Recognized for the houses he designed for rich shoppers, he was additionally the stereotype of a temperamental artist. 

Austrian American architect Richard Neutra. Vienna. 1969. Photograph by Nora Schuster. 

Austrian American architect Richard Neutra. Vienna. 1969. {Photograph} by Nora Schuster. 

Imagno/Getty Pictures

Richard Neutra, Alex Ross wrote in a sprawling deep dive into the ego-driven, quirky and ever-more-recognizable mid-century icon within the Sept. 20, 2021, issue of the New Yorker, “is a type of artists, like Gertrude Stein and Mark Rothko, who current a basic contradiction between their character and their work. The homes are tranquil and swish; the person who made them might be pompous, overbearing, needy, exasperating.”

“He was, in a phrase, inconceivable,” Ann Brown, the unique proprietor of a 1968 Neutra in Washington, D.C., instructed Ross. 

However for all his hubris and private foibles, Neutra’s work lately has been pushed into prominence, preserved and embraced. 

Within the stylish Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake, hipsters snap images of the Neutra VDL, a transformed residence with dramatic strains and comfortable inside. The Nationwide Historic Landmark homes a nonprofit and options architectural and inventive displays, in addition to installations and performances. 

Points with the Slavin Home

Neutra’s different houses have bought for much more than what the Slavin Home’s proprietor is asking. In 2020, Tremaine Home in Montecito was picked up in an off-market sale for a cool $12 million in 2020 by Franz von Holzhausen, the designer behind the 1997 Volkswagen Beetle. In the present day, he helms Tesla’s design group and is liable for its fleet, together with the brutalist Cybertruck.

The view from the pool at the Slavin House in Santa Barbara's Riviera neighborhood. The house has sat on the market for months. The home, listed for $10.5 million, partially burned down last year, but the original plans were spared.  

The view from the pool on the Slavin Home in Santa Barbara’s Riviera neighborhood. The home has sat in the marketplace for months. The house, listed for $10.5 million, partially burned down final yr, however the unique plans had been spared.  

Photograph Courtesy of Jim Carr

The Tremaine House matches in with the latter’s aesthetic. In sharp distinction to the low-slung and sprawling Spanish and Tudor and ranch home compounds that dot the Montecito hills and valleys, the Tremaine Home is poured blocks of concrete, a medium Neutra had the foresight to make use of and defend the compound towards the realm’s inevitable fires and floods. Using unfinished concrete within the interiors has now change into a staple in modern structure. The house is commonly described as a “gorgeous instance” of Neutra’s work. 

A home designed by famed architect Richard Neutra photographed on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in San Francisco. 

A house designed by famed architect Richard Neutra photographed on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in San Francisco. 

San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst N/San Francisco Chronicle through Gett

So, as soon as extra, why isn’t the Tremaine Home’s counterpart, the one with the precise views, creating a lot as a stir? 

“I don’t know, I don’t actually have the reply,” Jim Carr, the Slavin Home’s present proprietor in addition to the true property agent representing himself as the vendor, instructed SFGATE. “Neutra’s thought-about by many as being up there in trendy American historical past, him and Frank Lloyd Wright are No. 1 and No. 2. I don’t know why it sits.”


The reply probably lies within the state of the house itself, which Carr is completely happy to deal with. The most important concern: a fire at the home on Could 8, 2021, that took out much of the original 1955 structure.

Performing Santa Barbara Hearth Division division Chief Mike DePonce told Noozhawk at the time of the incident that a lot of the Slavin Home went up in smoke within the span of a single morning. 

Maybe extra forebodingly, the fireplace additionally revealed the house was in-built a precarious and difficult-to-access space. There have been “fairly intensive hose lays to rise up the hill to the construction,” DePonce stated.

“I can inform it was a difficult … deployment for them,” he added. 

Neutra VDL located at 2300 Silver Lake Blvd. was built in 1932. 

Neutra VDL situated at 2300 Silver Lake Blvd. was in-built 1932. 

Sylvain GRANDADAM/Gamma-Rapho through Getty Pictures

The excellent news is the unique plans for the constructing survived the blaze. “Miraculously,” actual property brokers Molly and Randy Haden stated in an August 2021 assertion following Carr’s acquisition of the burned-out Slavin Home for $2.7 million, “the brand new homeowners … have a ardour for structure, intend to revive and rebuild this native landmark residence to its unique glory.” 

Whereas Carr estimates the footprint of all the property, together with residence, basis, landscaping and pool is 50% or much less intact, the precise constructing is 10% to twenty% of what it was pre-blaze. 

Nonetheless, he sees the fireplace as extra of an inconvenience within the massive image of the property’s significance. 

“The worth is extra in the way in which artwork is evaluated,” he says. “It’s not about how a lot the paint prices and paintbrush and canvas, the factor that makes it priceless is the artist who created it. There’s a component of that conceivably or doubtlessly on this property.” 

Carr’s evaluation may not be too far off. Most mid-century gems, together with the Neutra VDL and the Tremaine Home, have undergone important renovations and upgrades to be introduced as much as seismic and structural code in addition to to be in step with present ADA requirements.

A Richard Neutra house in the Hollywood hills, like many Neutras, has been restored back to the way it was when built. 

A Richard Neutra home within the Hollywood hills, like many Neutras, has been restored again to the way in which it was when constructed. 

Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Instances through Getty Imag

As such, Carr says he’s at the moment spending “a very long time, a extremely a very long time …with town to acquire a allow and demolish the burned-down [part of the] constructing.”

He says he’s additionally engaged on acquiring the constructing allow and is, proper now, dedicated to finishing the restoration work ought to the suitable purchaser not come to mild. “I’m an actual property dealer, and so I select to promote it on the market whereas I do that,” he says. “I’m urgent ahead to construct the home and … if someone else simply has to have it, then they’ll discuss to me.” 

Paying an enormous premium for a fixer-upper

Past the duty of finishing main work on the property and agreeing to revive the constructing to spec, there’s a matter of worth to think about. 

Built by architect Richard Neutra, the VDL house in trendy Silver Lake is seen as the epitome of California living. Its innovation and staying power has bolstered Neutra's reputation in recent years. 

Constructed by architect Richard Neutra, the VDL home in stylish Silver Lake is seen because the epitome of California dwelling. Its innovation and endurance has bolstered Neutra’s fame lately. 

ANN JOHNASSON/NYT

Carr initially listed the constructing for $10 million on March 16. He then bumped the worth as much as $10.5 million on April 3. If he will get what he’s asking, the three,580-square-foot principal residence would run the brand new purchaser $2,933 per sq. foot — and that’s earlier than the price of renovations. To place that into perspective, the worth per sq. foot in Manhattan, currently the most expensive in the world, is $1,611. 

Is Carr merely asking an excessive amount of? Perhaps. The market in Santa Barbara, like a lot of the remainder of California, has spiked within the pandemic period. Due to the continued desirability of the realm and low stock juxtaposed with inflation and the uptick in rates of interest, Santa Barbra is at the moment experiencing wild swings

Nonetheless, Carr is just not far off from what actual property web sites say the house is value. The Zillow estimate currently values the home at $10,184,200. Nevertheless, there’s at least one current mid-century comp within the neighborhood, albeit with out the historical past and the architect, and it’s listed for significantly much less. It’s additionally nonetheless totally intact. 

Have we ruined mid-century trendy? 

Past the fireplace and the worth tag, there’s the query of whether or not we’ve exhausted our urge for food for mid-century trendy, and the way that, if something, may inform the curiosity within the Slavin Home.

Donald and Ann Brown's Washington, D.C., home was designed by architect Richard Neutra and constructed in 1968. 

Donald and Ann Brown’s Washington, D.C., residence was designed by architect Richard Neutra and constructed in 1968. 

The Washington Submit/The Washington Submit through Getty Im

“I completely have opinions on this,” Melissa Warner Rothblum, a principal at Massucco Warner, an LA- and Seattle-based design agency with roots in San Francisco, tells SFGATE. “There might be questions in a possible proprietor’s thoughts: Does this home match my wants and what’s occurring now? And does this home really feel too architecturally essential? 

“Proper now — as they have a tendency to — tastes are altering.”

Rothblum says the present mid-century trendy revival is dropping steam after greater than a decade. Individuals are beginning to transfer on. “I really feel like 5, six, seven years in the past this sort of the cool factor to do,” she says. “The hip stylish factor was to have a that very model of mid-century fashion in your house.”

However now that fashion has been filtered and watered down. “You acknowledge it immediately,” Rothblum notes. 

“The tapered leg, the sheepskin throw, the impartial colours,” she continues. “Folks took mid-century they usually made it type of ranchy — it’s now actually the norm. I believe when it turns into too mainstream in all places, each espresso store, all the pieces — it’s not thrilling to your eyes anymore.

“It’s been a darkish time and one thing that’s vibrant, that’s good and colourful — persons are beginning to look past what we’ve been seeing.”

Rothblum says persons are at the moment into “extra shade and sample and layering.”

A view of Richard Neutra-designed Lovell House in 1991 in Los Angeles. 

A view of Richard Neutra-designed Lovell Home in 1991 in Los Angeles. 

Santi Visalli/Getty Pictures

“Now we’re transferring from the Nineteen Fifties and ’60s into the ’80s and ’90s by way of decor. We’re seeing massive spherical legs on issues, bolder colours, brighter patterns. It is humorous I really feel like shoppers have us do walk-throughs asking what they’ll do with an area — and I haven’t … I haven’t walked something actually unique mid-century shortly.”

‘These initiatives might be scary’

Rothblum says inside requirements are more and more much less inflexible relating to refurbishing notable areas just like the Slavin Home. That being stated, she acknowledges these kinds of endeavors at all times find yourself on the troublesome finish of the spectrum.

“These initiatives might be scary,” she says, “Scary in a way that any time you’re engaged on a house with historic significance you’re making an attempt to grasp what’s the historical past of this residence. Why did they do that? Why is one thing a bit quirky and the way does it make sense? It’s a thriller. Understanding the again story and doing a bit extra homework is a part of it.”

Present proprietor Carr agrees. And for now he believes the proper purchaser hasn’t surfaced on the Slavin Home as a result of, frankly, not everybody has the urge for food for the quantity of homework, paperwork and precise restoration — and even an appreciation for the house’s easy, boxy fashion within the first place.

Architect Richard Neutra on the Aug. 15, 1949, cover of Time Magazine

Architect Richard Neutra on the Aug. 15, 1949, cowl of Time Journal

Photograph Courtesy of Jim Carr

“For me, I don’t care what the home appears at from the skin,” he says. “I care what it appears like from the within out — that’s why I just like the 100% glass on this Neutra. However, I don’t suppose a glass home is enticing in comparison with a Tudor for instance — there’s not a lot you are able to do. It could actually seem like a 7-Eleven from the skin however the magnificence is on the within you’ve gotten probably the most unimaginable dwelling, the gorgeous view and it’s simply outstanding — it’s a beautiful solution to reside.”

However the query stays, whether or not the work is accomplished by Carr or an as-yet-unknown purchaser who steps up; is the Slavin Home misplaced to a fireplace and altering tastes, or can it discover new life as a surprising instance of mid-century trendy in Santa Barbara?

“After all,” Carr says. “It already is.”