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Celebs vs. Hedge Funder in Bart Prince Demo Fight in Malibu

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Hedge funders! Architects of note! Red Hot Chili Peppers! Celebrity preservationists! McMansions! This story out of Malibu has all the elements: a New York hedge fund manager and his wife are planning to tear down the Bart Prince-designed Lever/Morgenthaler House, which was only built in 2005 (they bought it in 2009), and build something rather more conventional and view-blocking. We first saw the Lever/Morgenthaler House when it went up for sale a couple years ago; it's the only Prince house in LA County (there's a remodel in South Pasadena), according to lawyer Frank Angel, who represents some of the neighbors who are fighting the project--Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and architect Nancy Mack (yep, there's a Celebrity Neighbor War angle too!). Actress Kelly Lynch, who's known for her architectural preservation work, is also involved in the fight.

The Lever/Morgenthaler is made up of "six two-story diamond-shaped segments that cascade toward the canyon and a terraced garden," as described by the Malibu Surfside News in an August story. The house runs on a diagonal across a narrow, 1.05 acre lot. Now the owners are looking to demolish the Prince and get "a coastal development permit to build a 5710-square-foot residence with a 930-square-foot basement, 482-square-foot detached garage, 450-square-foot cabana with a 250-square-foot studio, 400-square-foot trellised carport, swimming pool, spa, a variance to make the new structure 28 feet high, and a variance for a yard setback reduction of 50 percent—from 65 feet to 32.5 feet." According to a staff report on the project, it's designed by Lester Tobias. The MSN says that neighbors are worried about the views, as well as "the geological stability of the canyon and the impact on the environmentally sensitive habitat below."

Malibu's Planning Commission is set to hold a hearing on the plans tonight. Planning staff has already decided that the demolition and new house won't have "significant adverse effect" and so are exempt from further environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act. They've also recommended that the commission approve the plans. Word is that Lynch will be at the meeting arguing against the demolition.
· New to Market: Architect Bart Prince in Malibu [Curbed LA]
· Critics Say Demolition Will Destroy Architectural ‘Gem’ [Malibu Surfside News]