The hill that's home to the picturesque Yamashiro restaurant and several other structures—perhaps the most significant piece of real estate in Hollywood—has just gone on the market for an undisclosed amount of money. The property, which includes the Hollywood Hills Hotel and Apartments and three "ancillary structures," has been in the same family for 66 years, but was listed and nearly sold back in 2007; this new listing for the parcel, on Franklin near Highland, could bring big changes: it hits hard on the "significant untapped development potential" of the site, coupled with its "under-utilized development rights [and] abundance of vacant land"—not a huge surprise considering the flood of investment coming into Hollywood not too far from this spot.
The brokers representing the sellers were unable to provide any comment for now, but there are a few noticeable differences between the present listing and the one from 2007. The earlier listing covered 10 acres and explicitly included the neighboring and beloved Magic Castle. The new listing, which is for only seven acres, does not appear to include the private magicians' lair. There's also no mention of what might become of Yamashiro after the sale. The restaurant, the Hollywood Hills Hotel complex, and several other, smaller structures together are considered the Yamashiro Historic District, but that doesn't mean that Yamashiro's necessarily safe. The listing does say that a big part of the potential is for the "redevelopment and enhancement of the site's key existing structures," but it's not clear if the sellers are taking steps to protect the structure through the terms of the sale or not.
And there's no real indication of what it all might cost. In the past, the sellers had said they'd accept all "reasonable bids" on the land. The 2007 listing, which stipulated that Yamashiro and the Magic Castle had to stay open, attracted dozens of offers; the sellers—at the time, a group of 14 family members descended from the original owner, Thomas O. Glover, who bought the Yamashiro and the site in 1948—ended up accepting a $55-million bid from hotelier Sean MacPherson (known for the Ludlow and the Jane in New York and WeHo's beloved Jones restaurant). MacPherson said he was ready to pay all cash and planned to restore some of the buildings and possibly add a new hotel, but after things dragged on for months without a closing, he ended up suing the family. Some of the sellers alleged MacPherson regretted the high price once the recession hit (a source told Curbed in 2010 that the site had been valued at $15 million in 2005); others seemed confused and annoyed that the sale never went through. MacPherson lost the battle in late 2010.
The main Yamashiro building was built in 1914 by two brothers who wanted the perfect spot to house their sizable Asian art collection. The Japanese palace replica includes a 600-year-old pagoda that was shipped in from Japan and offers some of the most spectacular views of the city. Hopefully we'll have more information soon on the future of this highly visible, historic, and coveted parcel. With development, especially hotel development, back on in full swing in Hollywood, this is absolutely the top site to watch.
· A Hollywood Landmark Estate Including the Yamashiro Restaurant Building & The Hollywood Hills Hotel & Apartments [Kitty Wallace Collier's International]
· Yamashiro, Magic Castle Listing [Curbed LA]
· At Yamashiro and Magic Castle, a Fight for the Hill [Curbed LA]
· Legal Ruling Expected in Yamashiro, Magic Castle Case [Curbed LA]