The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California on February 23, 1992 · 63
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The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California · 63

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San Francisco, California
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Sunday, February 23, 1992
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63
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Sunday, February 23, 1992 F-l an jFranrisco jBcaminer A landscape architect helped design The ExaminerChannel 7 Grand Winner entry F-6 WHAT'S IT WORTH? F-3 MAILBAG F-3 TRENDS F-4 HOME VALUES F-8 Ah J v -':;v ' : '. "'i ;-''( lfW t - . , - s . . . I ' I oiise A Mi-lion ol ih fan Franciico Sundny Euiniiwi and Chmniclt 31 .iWiW'W' lll.-W.Ji. .HILI in natural harmony Indoor outdoor desert show home conveys good life in the sun' By J. Linn Allen CHICAGO TRIBUNE AS VEGAS - In Las Vegas, one joke runs, it's against the law to turn off the lights. On The Strip, all the signs glare in megakilo- watts. Similarly, out in the posh suburbs, homes that look like Spanish-style birthday cakes advertise money at high voltage. But the New American Home presented at the National Association of Home Builders convention held earlier this year in the gambling mecca conveys a contrary message of tranquility and harmony with nature. Yes, there is nature in Las Vegas, although most visitors never see it for the cavernous casinos and towering hotels. It unfolds in a stark, arid high-desert flatland (Las Vegas is more than 2,000 feet above sea level) surrounded by reddish-brown, craggy mountains. And the New American Home, sponsored by Builder Magazine, Ladies' Home Journal, Popular Science and the National Council of the Housing Industry, attempts to respond to and quietly modify that terrain. Relevant lessons Though the house, the ninth in the series of convention show homes, is in the exclusive Canyon Gate Country Club development west of Las Vegas and has been sold for $876,000, it has lessons relevant to less costly homes, according to Ron Goldman, the ar chitect. It reflects both the growing importance of sensitivity to the environment and the need to make full use of a home site, said Goldman, whose firm of GoldmanFirth Boccato Architects is based in Ma-libu. "When I first toured the site and the community, I was struck by the fact that the housing and design didn't really respond to the character of the site," he said. ; "It didn't respond to the climate, and the housing didn't use Columnist Robert Bruss returns to Examiner Fair Real Estate columnist Robert Bruss will be one of the many ex-1 perts at the 5th Annual Examiner Home Buyers & Sellers Fair. See F-3. The annual consumer education fair, sponsored by The Examiner, along with Channel 7 News and KNBR Radio 68, will be held March 21 and March 22 at the Concourse Exhibition Center at Showplace Square in San Francisco. For a discount coupon good for $2.50, see F-5. the property." Or, as the builder, Christopher Stuhmer of Las Vegas, put it, "Everything feels like it was dropped out of a helicopter." Goldman's reaction to the environment was to create a walled compound that in its low, rambling desert-rose stuccolike exterior contains elements of the Santa Fe and Mediterranean styles. The soft color and rambling irregularity of its exterior, which contrast noticeably with the glaring white walls and boxy forms of its neighbors, are an allusion to the silhouette of the surrounding mountains and the patterns of the sky, he added. ifcf '' V7 Iv..: jJM l i. j.s Is!,-! mi r f ' If ( . , j If. .. ,-, B r!'i t 1 I ; r i f 'Mafliana' house "It's a contemporary version of high-desert architecture," said Goldman. "It's like a Spanish hacienda. It has an indooroutdoor feel, it's relaxed, it's manana, it's the good life in the sun." Inside the house itself, which is one story with a loft, rooms surround a trellised central courtyard. Outside, a terrace and pool area, secluded by the wall and planted with dry-climate vegetation such as olive trees, make up a space that seems part of the house itself. In fact, Roger Presburger of the L.A. Group in Calabasas, the home's landscape architect, called it "basically a 20,000-square-foot house of which 5,000 is air-conditioned." Getting the most out of a site, noted Goldman, "is a principle you can use whether you are talking about high-density housing or a half-acre site." In most housing in the area, said Goldman, yards are generally unused because the weather is either too hot up to 120 F or too cold. The major challenge of the house was to create viable outdoor See NEW HOME, F-4 The New American Home's pool area is secluded by a wall and planted with dry-climate vegetation, making a space tliat seems part of the house itself. i- . y't : - - Ml U1 t: l W 6 ii'L Irfi 1 il mmm wJ.it. .', i .. ., ifBHB git mm i ; ! . a i.-mm t ni.f;:: i awe ' "TT ... .,f-.. i 5 '- '"' i4 ,-Vr',; ;,'' .' . 1 f '' J - .-'"' ' j '., i -'"".. '"'-v.:'"" '' .,,- J -' ""'.,(."''":. 'a - -'' " '-"' liinlff CORRIE M. ANDERS INVESTING The house's pattern-stamped concrete driveway anchors a plan of light colors and hard textures, creating harmony from the ground up. Acorn housing project Tenant, owner pride rises after years of neglect projects, the 681-unit Acorn housing development in West Oakland. The project is spread across 14 city block on 38 acres in 80 buildings in two different facilities Acorn I and Acorn II. The facility includes attached town homes, garden-style apartments and 17 midrise buildings. At first glance, Acorn fits the ugly stereotypes of public housing with more than 1,700 poor people crammed into a high-density, crime-ridden project with leaky roofs and very little hope. Just a year ago, 17 families were evacuated from their units when water poured into their homes. "We had units where people were literally being rained on," said tenant activist Janet Patterson who moved to Acorn with her grandparents in 1968 when it first opened. "Back then, it was a beautiful project it's gone from the best to the worst," she said. Located off the Nimitz Freeway, from Market to Union Street, the sprawling development reached such a crisis point last year that the federal government was forced to See LIVING, F-5 By Bradley Inman SPECIAL TO THE EXAMINER OAKLAND -In 1989, 1 did a story on the myths of public housing. I visited several livable, safe and attractive government-owned apartment projects in the Bay Area and described how this important housing resource was often unfairly maligned. After the story ran, I was criticized for picking only suburban projects and for avoiding troubled urban developments in Oakland and San Francisco, where social problems, maintenance headaches and crime are much more threatening. It was a legitimate gripe. I decided to revisit the public housing subject with a look at what historically has been one of the region's most notorious subsidized ('ISA--'v: ':;'Ai,ia-1:',ft-i:?'T; Pi.;,! Ltu ''.'..-'.?! f' f-vit 1ST I- '" ' " WW P.'!? 'n t . """"""I -V,- . .V,. '-:. 6 3 ,, ? w f 1!IBww,-A-.r.v-3.' '1 1 vm- It a j ' m I nil ii ,--41 ' 1 4 V 0i5 EXAMINERCRAIG LEE Tenants of the A corn housing project play basketball at a court in the 681-unit West Oakland development. 'Due diligence' lets realty buyer beware FOR THE PAST 15 years, Robert Kantor has been buying real estate. Lots of it. Starting out, he bought single-family homes before moving on to apartment buildings and mobile-home parks. Then he graduated in to syndication, putting together million-dollar deals for office building and other commercial proper ties. Today, his real estate invest ment firm, San Francisco-based Rokan Corp., has a portfolio of more than $50 million in real estate around the country. A vital key to success, according to Kantor, is to make sure you're buying what you think you are. The process is called "due diligence" and it will go a long way toward preventing you from buying a costly mirage. "Only by performing due diligence can an investor consistently distinguish between investments that are designed to look attractive and those that have real economic merit," said Kantor. Kantor, 49, is a former tax attorney, an author and a real estate lecturer who loves to talk about "due diligence." This means that, before any cash commitment is made, an investor should independently verify and evaluate both the property under consideration and any partners or syndicators who will manage the investment. Most investors know that; but they don't always do it. Even sophisticated investors who take their due diligence seriously have See ANDERS, F-2

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