Sale of Bob Hope mansion botched by “emergency legislation”: report

Bob Hope at the property in Toluca Lake (Getty Images)
Bob Hope at the property in Toluca Lake (Getty Images)

An effort to preserve a house built by late entertainer Bob Hope in 1939 could have unintended consequences for his children and the charitable foundation that bears his name.

Last month, Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu introduced “emergency legislation,” asking the city to immediately consider the now-15,000-square-foot Toluca Lake mansion, where Hope reportedly entertained the likes of Frank Sinatra, as a historic and cultural monument. The motion was a reaction to demolition permits filed by its current owner — Hope’s daughter, television producer Linda Hope. Ryu’s motion was passed unanimously by City Council.

But Craig Strong, the listing agent on the property, told the Hollywood Reporter that the city’s rushed move hurt his client’s ability to sell the property. Now, continued upkeep will take a toll on the proceeds she plans to donate to her parents’ charitable organization, the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation, he said.

“The closing was just two weeks away and the city didn’t ask what was going on — they just acted,” Strong told THR. “So while we wait on the City, Linda continues to maintain the 5-plus acres and home which ultimately cuts into the proceeds that go to the charitable organizations. Ask the city how they feel about that.”

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The reaction to the demolition permits, Strong said, was overblown, as they were only filed for smaller structures on the property, including a pool house. He said the would-be buyer actually wanted to restore the main house, before the motion halted the sale entirely.

If the house does indeed get historical designation, it could be hard for a potential buyer to swallow, Strong told THR.

“The way the house was built and added on over the years, it needs to be remodeled correctly or redone completely, which would be difficult if it was historic,” he said. “It’s not to say that someone couldn’t do it, but I feel that someone would want to make it their own.”

Ryu said in a stement that “it’s important that the city’s historic-cultural resources are celebrated and rich architecture preserved for future generations.” [THR]Hannah Miet