Faced with a litany of legal and financial problems, spec mansion developer Mohamed Hadid recently relisted a controversial, partially-built Beverly Hills Post Office spec mansion for a whopping $250 million. But the developer is also offering to sell the property for $92 million once the home’s foundation is complete, if a buyer wanted to take over the project.
The hilltop property, located at 9650 Cedarbrook Drive, was listed earlier this month, although the news was not widely reported.
“This is the last of the Mohicans,” Hilton & Hyland agent Rodrigo Iglesias, who has the listing, said in a promotional article for Forbes Global Properties, a listings platform that’s headed by Hilton & Hyland founder Jeff Hyland. “There is nothing like it, and there will never be anything like it.”
Iglesias told The Real Deal that he’s looking for a buyer who would be game to combine the 37-acre Cedarbrook site with an adjacent, undeveloped, plot nearly twice as large that Hadid is also attempting to sell. That land, divided into six parcels, has been at the center of a protracted fight between Hadid and conservation advocates because of its location next to Franklin Canyon Park: Hastain Trail, a popular hiking route that runs through the park, also intersects with Hadid’s property. In January, after Hadid defaulted on his loans (the principal original lender was Romspen), a conservation-oriented LLC bought more than $25 million of the debt in an attempt to take control of the land. Legal issues remain: A court-dictated bankruptcy sale for two of the parcels is scheduled for Wednesday.
“What I’m looking for, really, is a buyer that says, ‘Hey, I can have 100 acres in the back of the Beverly Hills hotel,” said Iglesias. “I can have the most amazing house and guest house [built] on it and keep the rest a backyard.”
A potential buyer could also get a tax write-off, Iglesias added, by donating part of the 70 acres for conservation.
“That’s the type of buyer,” he said. “Somebody that has the money and wants to be the hero of Beverly Hills.”
Hadid did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Iglesias was on the property when reached by TRD, shortly before he was scheduled to show it to a semi-qualified buyer, he said.
Hadid bought the Cedarbrook property in 2012 for $2.5 million, according to Redfin. In 2017, with development plans still under review, Hadid listed 12 parcels including the site for $250 million.
He battled city planners over permitting issues at the site but has since scored permits to build a 78,000-square-foot project, which includes a main house and guest house ‒ the largest-ever permitted residential construction in Los Angeles, according to the listing. Renderings for the property show an elaborate compound built on multiple layers into the hillside. Hadid’s plans for the property include 19 bedrooms and 28.5 bathrooms, indoor and outdoor pools, a bowling lane, a waterfall and Turkish bath.
Iglesias maintained that the $250 million listing, among the priciest in the country, was a serious ask.
“If you look at the cost of construction and the size, it is priced on the money,” he said. “You can’t permit that size anymore.”
But the listing also comes as Hadid faces challenges on multiple fronts.
In addition to the Franklin Canyon controversy, the developer is on trial over 901 Strada Vecchia Road, his ill-fated “Starship Enterprise” Bel Air spec mansion, over which a neighbor filed a 2018 suit arguing the development was structurally unsound and that its construction had turned their lives into a nightmare. The plaintiffs have sought damages in the tens of millions of dollars, while Hadid has maintained he did nothing wrong. A judgement is expected as soon as this week.
Hadid has also taken legal and financial heat over the Cedarbrook site. Contractors and subcontractors allege that Treetop Development, the LLC that controls the property, has neglected its payments.
In February, a judge ordered Treetop to pay $111,000 to one company that had been hired to perform drilling work. In March, a concrete company also filed a suit against Treetop and the firm’s general contractor alleging it was owed nearly $3 million.
A potential buyer interested in the development play would also need to overcome opposition from neighborhood residents who view the project as a grotesque affront to the area’s natural beauty.
“It’s stupid. He’s in default … Why would anybody trust him to finish building it?” said Ronald Richards, an attorney and leading Hadid opponent. “It’s a hope and a prayer price.” (Richards manages Give Back, the LLC that’s been trying to wrest control of the adjacent six properties for conservation, but does not have a direct financial interest in the Cedarbrook property.)
The right buyer, Iglesias countered, would take care of the complications. “Money makes the world go round,” he said. And, he added, “the scrutiny on everything that is built by Mohamed is excruciating. So you know that this thing is going to be built right.”