Deal struck to save Richard Neutra's Kronish House in Beverly Hills


Valued in part for its 90210 area code, it is now the catalyst for a new Beverly Hills city ordinance.

The buyers who purchased the 1955 house at a foreclosure auction a couple of months ago intended to sell it. But their lawyer said there were no takers because of its run-down condition, so they applied for the permits to demolish it.

"They didn't know that it was a potential historic preservation issue," attorney Mitch Dawson said. "They did know that the home - isolated without that issue - had to be taken down. It wouldn't be sold with it, because it's decrepit, and it's not habitable, in my opinion."

The Los Angeles Conservancy fought hard to preserve the last intact Neutra house in Beverly Hills.

"It certainly had some neglect and deterioration over the years, but it doesn't mean it can't be brought back with the proper resources and wherewithal," said Adrian Scott Fine, the conservancy's director of advocacy.

The conservancy wasn't alone. The mayor's office was flooded with more than 500 pages of emails from people around the world urging the city to save the house and create a preservation ordinance.

"There are a lot of big, huge homes, but the class and the integrity of the design is really what's important. Otherwise, all you have is a city of big, cookie cutter mansions, and that's not what Beverly Hills is about," Beverly Hills Mayor Barry Bucker said.

The city and owners worked out a deal. Preservationists will get 60 more days to find a buyer or move the house, and the owners will pay up to $50,000 to help them do it.

On top of that, the planning commission is working on a preservation ordinance to protect historic homes in the future and give tax incentives to owners who help preserve them.

"Was it perfect? No, but I think we're moving in the right direction and sending a clear message that our historic properties, like in all communities, are really treasures, that if they can be preserved, let's see whether we can at least help it along," Bucker said.

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