While LA is not a city known for its basements, the Wall Street Journal reports that many SoCal mansion owners are digging out huge underground fantasy lands, in its latest story on the crazy things rich people build in their houses. Apparently, Los Angeles's 2008 anti-McMansionization ordinance, which limits the size of a house in relationship to its lot, has driven mansions underground--planner Erick Lopez says 'The relief valve to that was that if somebody put [square footage] underground and no one could see it,' it was allowable." And now we're living in some kind of weird reverse-Metropolis:
-- "[O]ne planned house in Los Angeles's Brentwood neighborhood is putting the majority of its space in its two-level basement. According to public records, the city has approved plans for an 11,300-square-foot home that will have two levels underground measuring 30,000 square feet."
-- Builder Mohamed Hadid, not known for his restraint in homebuilding, is working on 30,000 square foot house in Beverly Hills with a 14,000 square foot basement. It will have a 250 person ballroom, a Turkish bath with hand-carved Egyptian limestone columns, and a 50 seat movie theater. And because he had such a fun time offloading his over the top place in Bel Air, he'll be selling this latest house for more than $60 million.
-- Architects have to use all kinds of tricks to keep underground spaces from looking so undergroundy--in Hadid's project, "what appears to be a skylight above the 36-foot Turkish bath is light refracted from hand-carved crystal panels."
-- Builder Mauricio Oberfeld has a 3,000 square foot basement in his 9,000 square foot house: "Glass stairwells lead to a lower level with an ornately tiled spa, large office, wine room and movie theater."
-- Down in La Jolla, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is building a 7,400 square foot house (modest!) with a 3,600 square foot basement. He'll probably still put his dog on the roof, though.
-- Oberfeld's partner Matt Dugally recently built a house in Orange County that had a 5,000 square foot basement with golf simulation center, driving range, "and a bar area modeled after the Tap Room bar at Pebble Beach."
-- Malibu architect Doug Burdge is working on basement designs for spec houses "that will have private beauty salons and spas modeled after a line of Italian boutique hotels. The basements will contain big light wells, with sun falling onto bamboo tree courtyards."