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Alane Anderson's Blog

By Alane Anderson, Realtor | MBA | Agent in Newport Beach, CA

$12 Million Irvine Family Party House, Sold

Really?  $12 Million?  Yes, it's true!  As the rest of us seem to be cautiously optimistic about the recover, the Irvine family party has another celebration.  Here's the full article from Jon Lasner, OC Register, April 6, 2012.


A waterfront property that had been owned by Irvine family heirs for more than 80 years has been sold for almost $12 million, making way for the new buyer to tear it down and build a new waterfront mansion looking out toward the mouth of Newport Bay.

The listing agent said when the property hit the market that it was an “unbelievable opportunity to develop one of the finest waterfront home compounds in Southern California.”

But Newport Beach history buffs lamented that the building’s sale and probable demolition spells an end of an era for the distinctive Irvine family party house.

The property consists of 19,000 square feet along Bayside Drive, with a quirky, bright blue building that houses a large indoor pool and small, run-down living quarters.

The pie-shaped property has nearly 78 linear feet of water front, a boat dock that could be enlarged and is about 115 feet long.

“The views are simply phenomenal,” the property’s listing boasted. The land commands a 180-degree vista from the Newport jetty to the Fun Zone Pavilion.

Known as the “Big Blue Pool House,” the shore-front property had been owned by owned by the late Kate Wheeler – great-granddaughter of Irvine Ranch co-founder James Irvine – and her husband, Charlie, who headed the Irvine Co.’s cattle operations.

The Wheelers lived in a similarly painted “Bermuda” blue house on the bluff just above and used the pool house as a place for family social gatherings such as weddings, parties, barbecues and lazy summer days for swimming and boating. A winding path led from the family homestead on the hill down to the “Big Blue Pool House” at the water’s edge.

The Wheelers’ heirs divided the hilltop house and the pool house in an intra-family property swap last year. The out-of-town heirs got the pool house and put it up for sale last summer for $14.95 million.

In December, they trimmed the price by $3 million to $11.95 million, which is what the sellers’ got in a deal that closed last Friday, according to online real estate sites Redfin and Trulia.

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“They had rock parties, they had pool parties. It was party central,” the home’s listing agent, Bill Cote, said last summer. “They swam here, they boated here. They sailed out of here.”

Mimi Juarez, a former neighbor who moved away in the 1960s, said her son got invited to teen parties there about once a month.

“That was the place then,” Juarez said.

The Big Blue Pool House was one of at least five prime Corona del Mar parcels held in the Irvine family until recent years, with a combined value of $70 million to $100 million.

A lawn-covered parcel next to the pool house was sold to the next-door neighbor for $11.5 million 2 ½ years ago. That neighbor is now in the process of building a 17,000-square-foot home.

It would cost a minimum of $4 million to build a 10,000-square-foot home on the land the pool house sits on. That would bring the total cost of land and house to at least $16 million.

But the listing published last summer said the property could accommodate a mansion of up to 23,000 square feet.

“It has the Irvine name associated with it,” Balboa Beacon publisher and unofficial historian Gay Wassall-Kelly observed last summer. “And it always will.”
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