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The Real Deal Los Angeles

State of Israel buys Beverlywood home for consulate, seeks code exemptions “for security reasons”

Israel purchased estate for Sam Grundwerg in a $2.3M sale that closed this month

October 19, 2016 12:00PM
By Julie Walmsley

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The house near Beverlywood (the Agency) and Consul General Sam Grundwerg (embassies.gov)

The house near Beverlywood (the Agency) and Consul General Sam Grundwerg (embassies.gov)

Israel’s official Consular Residence is now a $2.3 million, five-bedroom home in between the Pico-Robertson and Beverlywood neighborhoods, property records show.  

If Israeli diplomats are successful in petitioning the Los Angeles City Council over their unique security concerns, the property’s floor area will be allowed to exceed what is allowed by the zoning code, and the hearing to consider the matter will bypass the typical open meeting process.

The home for Los Angeles Consul General Sam Grundwerg — as well as his wife Anne and their three children — was purchased for $2.3 million in a sale that closed earlier this month. The State of Israel was the official buyer, according to property records. The sellers were a trust associated with Donald and Paula Etra. The seller was represented by Meir Kroll of the Agency.

Once the October 7 sale was complete, Israel, represented by Stanley Treitel in city proceedings, promptly set about obtaining approval for enclosing a back patio, creating a new room and thus expanding the house. The request was “for security reasons, and for hosting diplomats,” according to a hardship exemption application.

An interim control ordinance enacted in 2015 limits the home’s floor area. But Treitel noted in his October 10 filing that the floor area already exists: “It is a patio now; it is covered by the second floor deck above and therefore it will have no effect on the massing of the building.”

The exemption request is headed to the City Council’s Planning and Land Use subcommittee, which could be swayed by a letter from the Mayor’s office attached to Israel’s petition, requesting that it bypass the public hearing process.

Kristin McCowan, Director of International Relations and Chief Protocol Officer for Mayor Eric Garcetti, wrote a September 6 letter to the subcommittee, while the home was in escrow.

“In order to implement security measures at the property, the Consulate General has filed an entitlement request with the Department of City Planning,” she wrote. “Please consider their request for a waiver of the public hearing in this matter.”

Treitel’s statements in city documents did not elaborate on the specific security threat to the rear of the home, while the front remains fairly accessible, and in close proximity to its neighbors on a street of symmetrical unfenced two-story block homes.

A search through city documents did not produce similar requests from other local consulates. McCowan was not available to comment on how common the procedure was.

There was no listing price in the marketing of the roughly 4,000-square-foot property. It is unclear whether the property was intended as a pocket listing for the diplomat. Kroll was not available to comment.

Donald Etra is a prominent criminal defense attorney who is also active in the Jewish community. He was appointed by then-President George W. Bush to the Board of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003 and again in 2008.

The Etras’ trust bought the home in March 2012 for  $1.88 million. It was built earlier that year by Los Angeles-based GME Development.  Northridge-based Samuel Fernandez was the architect.

Prior to his current post, Grundwerg was Director General in Israel for the World Jewish Congress. He was appointed Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles last April by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, beginning his term in August.

In his post, he acts as top representative for Israel in the southwestern United States, working from the Consulate’s Brentwood office in the Wilshire Landmark. The CBRE-managed diplomat center is also home to the consulates of Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Switzerland, and the UK.

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