I always say, “The first thing you want to hear from a buyer when they open the door is ‘Wow’,” luxury home developer Ramtin Ray Nosrati said as he stood at the Gateway to one of his latest projects: a nearly completed 12,000-square-foot six-bedroom, nine-bathroom home in the affluent Los Angeles neighborhood of Pacific Palisades. He gestured across the living room to the retractable glass wall and balcony, which opens onto the emerald expanse of the Pacific Ocean. “If you hear that word, Wow, you know you have them.
A key part of Nosrati’s design philosophy is to have at least one wow factor in every room of a home. I had always thought the wow factor was a cliché until I found the word coming out of my lips over and over again as we toured the house. What else can you say about a glass-fronted wine cellar that can hold 500 bottles, or floor-to-ceiling tiled bathrooms in patterned stone imported from Europe, or a restaurant-grade walk-in refrigerator, or a game room that has nine huge TVs arranged in a grid that can be used as a single even larger TV or to display nine different sports games at once? Wow.
Over the past decade, Nosrati has built over 100 luxury homes across Los Angeles for the rich and famous. He has helped turn the city into a mecca for people looking to convert their stupendous wealth into stupendous homes – a trend he says will only accelerate after the pandemic. “We have so many customers from the East Coast right now,” he said. “Oh my gosh. I get business leaders calling left and right. The number of buyers who can afford these homes has probably tripled. Everyone thought the world was coming to an end, but there are had a lot of money made thanks to COVID. ”
Just as the houses of the first golden age represented the aspirations of the first class of millionaires, those of Nosrati reflect the wants and needs of today’s new elite. But while the Vanderbilts and Carnegis have commissioned their homes from favorite architects, Nosrati and many of his fellow megamander developers are working on specs. Selling the house is as crucial as designing it, and Nosrati never stops launching. On his Instagram account, which has one million followers, he presents himself as the face of both the homes and the lifestyle he sells, posting architectural renderings and house tours as well as glimpses of a lifetime. fantastic upscale – the private plane to Miami, the charity galas, the Lakers seats on the court. Three and a half years ago, one of his social media followers sent him a DM saying, “Someday I’m going to buy one of your properties. I love them. ”Even before this house in Palisades was completed, the follower – whom Nosrati described as a“ young, unmarried technician ”- placed $ 20 million in receivership.
At times Nosrati was seized with self-glorifying spasms which I came to regard as wonder factors in the conversation. “I was lucky enough to have the vision to look at a piece of land and come up with some really, really cool things,” he said. One thing he pioneered is the concept of the cannabis fair, with a grow operation and in-house budtenders. (“I have a feeling this will be the next wine cellar.”) This house doesn’t have a cannabis lounge, but when Nosrati opened the laundry room door, it revealed something to me. , was even more impressive: two sets of state-of-the-art washers and dryers. How could a “young single technician” need two washers and two dryers? He smiles slyly. “Why not? You deserve it. Even your housekeeper should be comfortable.
The Palisades House is the smallest of the four properties that Nosrati currently has under construction, but it still dwarfs the houses across the street (the lot contained a house one-tenth the size before it destroyed). Like many LA mega-mansions, it’s built like a fortress: a Jenga-style assemblage of white cubes dotted with rosewood inlays and black windows. To reach the front door, a visitor must descend approximately ten feet below street level via a staircase parallel to the facade. “When you sell to celebrities, CEOs, top guys, they want their privacy,” Nosrati explained.
Perhaps that makes sense for Justin Bieber, who TMZ reported in 2018 was considering a $ 10.9 million Brentwood home built by Nosrati. But the developer later revealed another – in my opinion, more fundamental – reason for his penchant for underground construction: LA’s Baseline Mansionization Ordinance. Adopted by city council in 2008, BMO strictly limits the size of new construction on old land. After a wave of teardowns replaced dozens of former Spanish colonial and artisanal bungalows with large contemporary boxes, a loose-knit “anti-mansionization” movement – made up of homeowners, conservationists and nerds of the urban density – formed to crusade against blocked views and the general degradation in character of the neighborhood heralded by huge, multi-story single-family homes. But BMO did not retain Nosrati. He became a specialist in hillside construction, which allowed him to build “below ground level”, dig into steep slopes and bury huge sections of a house below the ground. street level, where it does not count towards the total square footage.
Nosrati, who grew up in Los Angeles, made his money marketing cell phones and wireless services. His first development project came in 2003, when he bought old chicken ranches in the eastern suburbs of LA and turned them into social housing. After the 2008 crash, it went from middle class homes to luxury homes; he realized that it was safer to bet on building for the rich, who were more resistant to crises. When he started building mega-mansions, he angered the residents of the neighborhoods where he built. Today, he calls that criticism Luddism, a futile revolt against the inevitable future of home design that has now come to fruition. And it’s not hard to see a powerful anti-mansionization rebuke at a home he sold earlier this year: a 50,000-square-foot complex with a life-size basketball-themed basketball court. Kobe Bryant on a floating bridge that cost hedge-funder Jeffrey Feinberg $ 44 million.
We went up to the roof terrace on the third floor. The blue-green Pacific was framed to the south by the white towers of downtown Santa Monica and to the north by the brown peaks of the Santa Monica Mountains. With pride, Nosrati pointed out the expansive roof terrace with a fireplace and olive trees: a mock backyard. “When you buy one of my projects, you don’t have to go anywhere else. Basically you have it all here, don’t you? ” he said.
In the first golden age, railroad thief barons, steel tycoons, and oil tycoons wanted to align themselves with the old world aristocracy while announcing their new fortunes at a time when status depended less on your lineage than on the size of your bank account. . This tension sparked an architectural arms race between wealthy families to build ever larger and more opulent mansions inspired by French castles or English country houses.
The fantasy represented by this Palissades house is devoid of any reference to time or place. Instead of neoclassical odes to European royalty, Nosrati’s sleek and airy rooms with thoughtfully placed wow factors reminded me, above all, of a shopping mall or upscale hotel aimed at international business travelers. (When I noticed a pair of brass light fixtures, Nosrati revealed that they were from a company specializing in hotel interiors.)
On the rooftop terrace, perched higher than any other building in sight, Nosrati paused to think. “The world has changed. The value for money has changed, ”he said. “Ten years ago, when we saw a $ 15 million house, we would say, ‘Oh my God, a $ 15 million house!’ Now it’s not that bad. Right where we’re at now, I could tell you, within a three mile radius, 100 houses worth that much. Below, I could see the distinctive boxes of half a dozen new mega-props sitting on the hills like alien dropships.