william flew over houses

March 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

It is “the hippest neighbourhood in Malibu right now”, says Vanity Fair, a magazine that counts itself an arbiter of such matters.

JEFF RAYNER/COLEMAN-RAYNERA Malibu surfer passes a trailer that has been transformed into a luxury homeGiven that Malibu, 21 miles of prime Pacific coastline populated by wealthy film stars, has long been recognised as one of the planet’s hippest locales, that would make this neighbourhood, well, very hip indeed.

Which makes it all the more surprising that Paradise Cove is a trailer park — the kind of habitation associated with feckless Rednecks and teenage pregnancies; the sort of place where, usually, as one old joke puts it, “the homes are mobile but the cars outside them ain’t”.

The Cove, however, is a trailer park with a difference. A mobile home there recently sold for $2.5 million (£1.56 million). The buyer — who purchased only the right to pay an annual ground rent to the park’s owners — immediately spent millions more stripping the trailer down to its chassis and rebuilding it.

The original clapboard structure has been transformed into a series of glass-fronted cubes. The 2,300 sq ft, three-bed seafront property now resembles a work of abstract art.

Another of the park’s 265 trailers was recently fitted with floors of Peruvian marble, 150-year-old doors imported from an Indian fortress and a four-poster bed. In recent years such improvements have become common, according to a local estate agent.

Nevertheless, they still draw sighs from longtime residents, retired municipal workers and surfers, who bought trailers decades ago because a proper home was out of reach.

“This used to be a little, woodsy enclave,” one local, who sipped a beer as he walked his dog, told The Times. “The big change came when we began having neighbours whose cars were worth more than their trailers.”

Who would spend such sums on a caravan? Stroll around the Cove and one might bump into Minnie Driver walking her dog, Pamela Anderson buying groceries, or a shirtless Matthew McConaughey drinking beer and strumming a guitar.

The British model Liberty Ross and Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of the hit cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants, have properties here. So does Tom Shadyac, Jim Carrey’s longtime director and producer. Software tycoons and former bankers from Goldman Sachs cruise around on electric golf carts, the standard mode of transport.

The park is next to the Pacific and the most sought-after trailers have exquisite ocean views. Below the cliff on which they sit is a pristine, near-deserted beach.

Inland, the topography undulates into lush, forested hills. About a hundred yards away, on the next cliff, you can see Barbra Streisand’s estate.

The waves, surfers claim, are fantastic and the fishing is superb. Then there is the Goldilocks climate: seldom too hot and almost never chilly. “I’ve been here since 1974,” said one inhabitant. “I’ ve seen ice three times.”

Even the prices are stunning, according to the local estate agent. The nearby residences of James Cameron, Mel Gibson and Cher cost several tens of millions of dollars each.

In Paradise Cove, by contrast, a twobedroom trailer is on sale for a mere $325,000. That will buy you an address with plenty of boho-chic. Just don’t expect a sea view — or any Peruvian marble.



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