In Long Beach real estate, $4 million is the new $1 million

You’ve got a million bucks? Big deal. Everybody’s got a million bucks. Hundreds of homeowners in town could liquidate their assets and be millionaires. Homeless, sure, but nevertheless millionaires.

And then they could turn their lives around and buy a million-dollar house. Again, big deal. The entirety of the East side of town, from Belmont Shore all the way up to the Hawaiian Gardens border, is blanketed with million-dollar homes—that is, homes that are listed between $1 million and $1.25 million.

Many are three-bedroom, two-bath tract homes, with maybe a bit of improvement to put them on the north side of $800,000-$900,000, a price range that’s alarmingly typical of homes in places like Los Altos and the Plaza neighborhoods—homes that were never intended to make your jaw drop or scarf up your savings for a down payment. They were built for and purchased by one-income middle-class families back in the days when there was a middle class in Long Beach, thanks to fair-paying jobs in shipyards and in aerospace.

These days, $4 million is the new $1 million, in that it takes that much to buy the sort of home that would be a place that draws admiration if not outright covetousness from passersby.

It’s been about 40 years since a million dollars would buy opulence in Long Beach. Realtor Keith Muirhead, now with Compass, specializes in properties in Naples and the Peninsula, and he recalls the first time he heard about a Long Beach home selling for a million dollars. “It was right on the sand on a huge lot on Ocean Boulevard at Balboa Place on the Peninsula. My tennis coach told me about it and it was big news: A million-dollar house.” How much would the property cost today? “Oh my goodness, it would have to be $5 million at least,” he said.

Today, there are just five single-family homes in Long Beach listed at more than $4 million. The elite homes of Long Beach.

You go to LA, $4 million is nothing. It’s their equivalent of a $20 bill. You hand $4 million to a Los Angeles homeowner and they buy a car with it or give it to their kids. I recently saw a listing for a mansion in LA where the seller had reduced the price by $100 million. Reduced!

But in Long Beach, $4 million or more buys the best, which is why Realtors always say Long Beach is the most affordable seaside community around. You’re never going to see a property in this town where the price will be cut by $100 million.

You can see a price cut of a million, though. The owners of what could still wind up being the most expensive home sold in Long Beach, an off-water mansion at 93 Giralda Walk in Naples, recently knocked a million dollars off their list price of nearly $9 million, so now they’ll consider nearly $8 million.

You can buy the priciest home in Long Beach on Giralda Walk for $8 million, and save a million, as well. Listing photo.

It’s a terribly opulent home, certainly not what you’d consider a laid-back beach pad. You’d feel like a slob if you were attired in anything shabbier than top hat and tails when you entered the marble-floored foyer with its towering ceiling, a glistening chandelier and a grand staircase leading to the second floor. I’ve slobbered over it in an earlier column and it certainly hasn’t deteriorated in the 134 days since it hit the market by listing agent Josh Reef of Douglas Elliman, Beverly Hills.

The sprawling 7,730 square-foot house is on a massive 8,960-square-foot lot and comes with five en suite bedrooms and 7.5 baths, a couple of fireplaces, an exercise pool and tons of other amenities. I still don’t see why it’s the priciest home in Long Beach, given that it’s not on the water, but it just goes to show that you can’t have everything, no matter how much money you spend.

Free-falling a couple of million in price is a $5 million glistening Mediterranean mansion on the Peninsula’s boardwalk at 5601 E. Seaside Walk. Listed by Spencer Snyder, the three-story, four-bedroom, seven-bath waterfront home has nearly 6,000 square feet of living space topped by a third-floor open floor plan featuring a great room with a coved ceiling and a spacious dining room with wood sliders that open to a balcony with a built-in barbecue and spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the coastline.

This home on the sand on the Peninsula is offered for $5 million. Listing photo.

The second-floor master suite is as big as a ballroom and has its own private balcony, again with endless views.

Amenities include a gym, a five-car garage and an elevator that goes to all three floors.

The home isn’t moving quickly at this price. It’s been on the market for about 10 months.

House No. 3 on our scorecard is another beach-front Peninsula home at 2 Laguna Place, listed by Keith Muirhead, who entered the million-dollar market with his sale of a home on Rivo Alto Canal in 1998, which went for $1.2 million. Muirhead’s commission of about $25,000 allowed him to take his family on a three-week vacation to England, Denmark and France.

This Ed Killingsworth-designed beachouse at 2 Laguna Place is for sale at a discounted $4.979 million. Listing photo.

When I first wrote about this listing last February the asking price was $5.18 million. Now you can pick it up for $4.979 million. Designed by famed Long Beach architect Ed Killingsworth in 1956, it is, appropriately for the date, a mid-century modern, with such Killingsworth trademarks as a floating wood staircase, Catalina stone walls and a generous use of glass, bringing the Pacific right into your living room. The four-bedroom, four-bathroom is on a corner lot and has 3,375 square feet of living space.

The new kid on the $4-million-plus club is the last home on the Peninsula, a rock’s toss from Seal Beach, hard by the 72 Place parking lot—so, plenty of parking for guests, along with garage space for five cars.

Listed by Shannon Jones at $4.5 million, the modern design home at 7023 E. Seaside Walk is bright and airy with tons of windows (can we just stipulate that homes on the water have lots of windows?) and great views of Alamitos Bay and the Pacific from its six balconies.

A newly listed home at the end of the Peninsula is listed at $4.5 million. Listing photo.

The big feature of this three-story home, built in 1969 and renovated in 1975, is its rooftop deck which is perfect for entertaining with its views of everything as well as an outdoor kitchen and barbecue.

The house, with five bedrooms and four bathrooms just hit the market last week.

And now we come to the most affordable $4-million-plus house in Long Beach, which is sort of hard to believe has been on the market for going on a year now. Another Keith Muirhead listing, at $4.2 million, the four-bedroom, four-bath home at 220 Rivo Alto Canal is ideally located at the T-boning of the Colonnade, Naples and Rivo Alto canals, and facing the expanse of Alamitos Bay and spectacular sunsets.

This Naples home on Rivo Alto Canal is listed at $4.2 million. Add another $4 million and you get the adjacent lot. Listing photo.

The home includes a 45-foot open-water dock, with no bridges to duck under, for direct access to the bay and open water.

Throw in another $4 million and you can pick up the large lot next door, the last undeveloped lot in Naples, for your own private park or to double the size of your house.

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.
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