I have a talent for stating the obvious, so I might as well tell you right now that when I visit a well-designed community, it just feels right.
2008 Nationals: Icon at Playa Vista, 90094
Laing Luxury Homes' Icon at Playa Vista in Playa Vista, Calif. won a gold award at the 2008 National Sales and Marketing Awards.
Go Hollywood — or get pretty darn close. There are swimming pools, but to see movie stars, homeowners will have to load up the Range Rover, grab a map of celebrity homes and knock on the door.
Playa Vista is the first new community on the posh Westside of Los Angeles in more than 50 years, according to Icon at Playa Vista builder Laing Luxury Homes. Besides being in close proximity to Hollywood, Playa Vista is on the former site of Howard Hughes' aerospace empire. By the mid-1990s, the former aircraft hangars had been renovated into Hollywood sound stages. Scenes from movies such as "Titanic," "What Women Want," and "End of Days" have been filmed on location at Playa Vista.
Icon at Playa Vista offers 62 luxury single-family detached townhomes and duplexes clustered around the new Icon Park (The judges felt that although the community is a hybrid of both attached and detached homes, all are built on condo plats, so Attached Community of the Year was the most appropriate category). This community gives buyers the opportunity to own something new, spacious and luxurious in an established area. It even has its own zip code: 90094.
"For us as a builder, it's the first sort of urban project that we've done," says Pete Carmichael, director of sales and marketing for Laing Luxury Homes. "It's still technically a single-family detached home, but it's on a lot and it's tall and narrow — more like an urban home."
"You can drive in for the weekend, park your car and you don't have to get back into your car for the rest of the weekend," says Erica Wolter, marketing coordinator at Laing Luxury. "You can walk to the local parks or to the local coffee bean. It's a complete community."
Icon offers an array of elevations ranging from Spanish to transitional. It features floor plans spanning from about 3,200 to over 3,700 square feet with two to five bedrooms and up to four-car garages. The homes have large formal and informal areas, family kitchens and master suites. Media rooms, hobby areas, home offices or guest suites are optional.
The success of Icon is a result of patience and perseverance. It took about 20 years to get entitled, and complications arose on a couple of environmental fronts. It was adjacent to a wetlands area, and some methane was found underground. Though challenging from both a budget, operational and marketing standpoint, these obstacles were eventually overcome.
Icon also won gold for Best Landscape Design for an attached product. "Despite the small landscape areas, the use of unique paving materials, plant textures and custom designed features help create an intimate feeling," says Craig Delahooke, landscape manager with Laing Luxury.
And Icon won gold for Best Detached Floor Plan Between $1 Million and $2 million for its Plan 3. (More about this win in the April issue of our sister publication Custom Builder.)
Project: Icon at Playa Vista, Playa Vista, Calif.
Builder: Laing Luxury, Newport Beach, Calif.
Architect: JZMK Architects, Irvine, Calif.
Interior Designer: Meridian Interiors, Costa Mesa, Calif.
Ad Agency: The Roxburgh Agency, Costa Mesa, Calif.
Number of units: 62
Price range of units: $1,614,000 to $1,969,000
Square footage of units: 3,328 to 3,697 square feet
Photography: Eric Figge Photography, Irvine, Calif.