Talking with the Developer of L.A.’s Priciest Condos: The New Home Source Interview

Luxury condominiums aren’t rare in Los Angeles. But the city is about to get one especially expensive condo, a 12,000-square-foot penthouse with an asking price of $50 million.

A shiny block of flats and a car driving in front of this block of flats.

A rendering shows the exterior for the Four Seasons Private Residences, a 12-story, 59-unit project being built adjacent to Beverly Hills. Photos Courtesy of Genton Property Group.

The condo is part of the Four Seasons Private Residences, a 12-story, 59-unit project being built adjacent to Beverly Hills. Condos are priced from $2.5 million to $3.8 million, townhomes from $4 million to $7 million and tower units from $5.9 million to $17 million.

The developer, 
Genton Property Group in West Hollywood, Calif., broke ground in October 2015 and expects to open in 2017. The developer is not new to the luxe market. The company has completed nine major projects, including creative office and adaptive reuse, multifamily development and urban infill, and retail in Culver City, Calif.; Lathrop (south of Stockton), Calif.; Los Angeles; Sacramento, Calif.; and San Diego, Calif., and Las Vegas. Five more projects, including the Four Seasons Private Residences and all in the Greater Los Angeles area, are in the works.

New Home Source asked CEO Jonathan Genton about the project and about luxury in Los Angeles. Here’s an excerpt, edited for length and clarity. 

NHS: What’s special about Four Seasons Private Residences?

JG: It’s branded Four Seasons, but it’s not affiliated with or attached to a hotel. Its intent is to offer a higher level of service and amenities and a finer quality of property than you would find in a typical condo on top of a hotel or in it somewhere.

NHS: What services will the property offer?

JG:The level of service would mirror that of a private hotel, starting with the arrival. You come in, you have your valet, 24-hour concierge and general manager, just like you would in a hotel. You have a private chef experience, private theater experience. It’s not a white-glove, silver-dome experience, but a high-luxury experience with significant staffing.

NHS: What about technology?

JG:Our customer has money and awareness of and typically likes technology. I’m designing today for what isn’t even on the market yet. I’m designing for things that will be introduced in 90 or 120 days. I’m going to hold on to that last-minute decision as long as I can.

NHS: Tell us about the special elevator service.

JG: Typically with penthouses, you have a lock-off elevator that just takes you to the penthouse. We all like going in the elevator and seeing the “PH” on the button. The idea of a private arrival experience is of value and appreciated by everybody, so the units in our tower are all truly private elevator. It sounds easy, but it’s terribly expensive. It’s called “destination-dispatched elevator,” which is a term used by elevator companies to say, if you parked in the garage and you’re in the elevator coming up to your unit and I am in the lobby, that elevator will not stop and pick me up. It will only allow you and your guests in the elevator.

NHS: What surprised you while you were researching what people want in this market?

JG:
 People wanted to self-park. L.A. is a car culture. People talk a lot about their cars. They didn’t want to hand their keys to a valet. They wanted to park their car, but they wanted it to be in a garage. We adapted that by making private garages within our subterranean garage.

NHS: What’s gone off-trend that’s not in your project?

One beautiful swimming pool is surrounded by great palm trees. On both sides, there are sofas and small chairs where you can enjoy a sunny day.JG: 
One of the more obvious things for L.A. is a big pool and gym facilities. If you look at projects built five, six or seven years ago, they looked like a 24-Hour Fitness. Our customers have turned away from that experience into wellness. For instance, they don’t want to sit in the sun. They want a cabana and a pool that’s shaded and long enough to do laps in. They don’t want lines of cycles and treadmills. They want private workout rooms and they care about the materials: “Are they hypoallergenic?”

NHS: Who are your buyers?

JG:
 We see our customer getting younger and this customer is very savvy. Most of them are successful. They’ve very entrepreneurial. They’re self-made in whatever venture or industry they’re in.

NHS: Where do your buyers come from?

JG:
 All over the world. China, Indonesia, London, France. A lot of the people I meet have a house in Los Angeles already. They may have a house in Hong Kong, a house in L.A. and a house someplace else.

NHS: What are they looking for in a property?

JG:
 They don’t want to be in a condo that’s embedded in a hotel. They want a private experience. They don’t want the transient nature of neighbors who come and go or are there six months and then leave. They like the durability of the Four Seasons brand. They like the durability of being in Los Angeles.

NHS: The federal government has said it’s going to scrutinize certain high-end all-cash condo deals in Miami and Manhattan this year. Do you expect that to have an effect in Los Angeles?

JG:
 Typically, we’re not seeing cash buyers, the cash-cash guys. Everyone I have has a banking relationship. They like leverage. If you’re going to park money somewhere, if that’s your intent, you’re probably not going to do it here with us. I haven’t had anybody pull up with a bag of cash and say, “Give me a unit.”

Marcie Geffner is an award-winning freelance reporter, book editor and blogger whose work has been published by a long list of financial, mortgage and banking websites, trade magazines and newspapers. You can find her on Google+.

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