Editor's Letter May 2011

Rays of Optimism in Luxury Real Estate



BY STEVEN BILLER

We talk quite a bit in the desert about quality of life, luxury, and what it all means in a real estate market that’s beginning to show some muscle. When the Los Angeles Times reported that sales of homes $1 million and above in California rose 21 percent in 2010 — the first increase in the luxury segment in five years — we set out to see how the Coachella Valley factors into the trend. The bottom line: Sellers here have been pricing properties closer to the market rather than their personal expectations. And buyers with money are taking advantage.

This month, our annual real estate issue examines this trend and taps a couple of luxury-community developers who are seeing light as they emerge from the recessionary abyss. In “Luxury & Value,” Palm Springs Life personal finance writer Ellen Paris gleans the experience of real estate agents who represent some of the most desirable properties in the desert.

In the feature “From Sand to Sea,” Paris catches up with Ted Lennon, the developer behind The Vintage Club and The Reserve who’s now in charge of Lowe Enterprises’ $200 million resort real estate portfolio, which includes his latest project, Terranea Resort in Palos Verde. In this exclusive interview, Lennon reveals why he left the desert for the coast and how “affordable luxury” has tweaked his approach to selling affluent destinations.

We also meet Michael Meldman, developer of The Madison Club and The Hideaway, in “Family Guy” and take you to the Ship of the Desert, the Palm Springs home of fashion designer Trina Turk and her photographer husband Jonathan Skow. On the eve of her runway show at Fashion Week El Paseo, Turk hosted a small group for an intimate lunch and home tour.  “A Bright, Sunshiny Day” celebrates the indoor/outdoor lifestyle that’s synonymous with the desert and an inspiration to her fashion.
 

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