Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Nickelodeon President Brian Robbins Snags Snazzy Beverly Hills Mansion

Emmy-nominated powerhouse television producer turned Nickelodeon President Brian Robbins and his wife Tracy James are on the move once again, this time packing their designer bags and migrating from historic Hancock Park to the glitzy awesomeness of Beverly Hills, Variety reports. The couple have forked out a very A-list $16.8 million — the most paid for a house in the city thus far this year — for a ravishingly louche showpiece of a modern mansion in the Trousdale Estates enclave of town.

Designed by Paul McClean, the Irish-born architect who arguably kickstarted L.A.’s contemporary mansion boom, the glassy spec-house was built over a four-year period by Lindsay Chambers, an acclaimed interior designer who has developed dozens of luxury houses around L.A. and up in Northern California’s Silicon Valley, and features an exterior clad in exotic stonework hand-finished by artisans in Italy.

Sited on a quiet cul-de-sac and partially obscured behind a dense hedgerow, the house visually presents as a single-story structure but sports a decadent subterranean level outfitted with a wet bar/lounge, wine cellar, home theater, giant marble fireplace, glass-walled “auto gallery,” a wellness center, and a lap pool set beneath a soaring central atrium.

Up above at street level, a hand-crafted door pivots open into a brief courtyard, and an adjacent catwalk leads directly over the lap pool below and through a glass door into the foyer. Inside, there’s a restrained, almost Germanic minimalist aesthetic with subdued, ice-grey color hues throughout. The open floorplan includes a marble-slathered kitchen with high-end stainless appliances, a wine refrigerator, and an eat-in breakfast bar. There’s also a library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, fireplace-equipped living and dining rooms and floor-to-ceiling walls of glass.

The compact backyard includes a patch of faux grass and one of the more unconventional aspects of the property: its arrowhead-shaped infinity pool, a portion of which partially encircles the home’s glass-walled master suite. The westward views drink in the Century City skyline, and large pine trees and other dense foliage serve to block out most of the neighbors, creating a quiet respite in the middle of the bustling Platinum Triangle.

Robbins and James are longtime staples in the property news columns, seeming to move houses every couple years. Once upon a time they owned a large Encino mansion that was sold for $5.5 million to a married pair of high-powered L.A. businesspeople. In 2013, the pair paid English television producer Andrew O’Connor $13.2 million for a very stately house in Brentwood that they subsequently flipped for $15.4 million to Coldplay manager Phil Harvey.

And in 2017, the James-Robbinses paid prolific producer John Wells $12.4 million for a Hancock Park manor on one of the area’s best streets. They have since extensively renovated the entire property, and the house is rumored to be quietly available off-market with a potentially neighborhood record-busting pricetag.

The couple also maintain a vacation getaway in California’s Santa Barbara County; last year, they paid Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi about $7 million for an achingly beautiful ranch set in the foothills above the quaint seaside town of Carpinteria, about two hours by vehicle due northwest of their new 90210 digs.

Dustin Nicholas of Nicholas Property Group held the listing; Rayni Williams of Hilton & Hyland repped the buyers. Both declined to comment on the transaction.

Seller: Lindsay Chambers
Location: Beverly Hills, Calif.
Price: $16.8 million
Size: 12,050 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms

Brian Robbins was named president of Nickelodeon in October 2018. Before becoming the chief of Nickelodeon, he served President of Paramount Pictures’ Paramount Players division.

Prior to leading Paramount Players, Robbins co-founded the multi-platform media company Awesomeness in 2012 and served as Chief Executive Officer. Robbins also co-founded the production company Tollins/Robbins Productions and was the Founder and President of Varsity Pictures. In this role, he executive produced numerous television hits for teens and young audiences, including the popular Nickelodeon series Kenan & Kel and All That, the latter of which Robbins adapted into the Nickelodeon feature film Good Burger. Robbins also executive produced Blue Mountain State for Spike TV (now Paramount Network) and produced and/or directed the Paramount films Varsity Blues, Coach Carter and Hardball. His other credits include the television series Smallville and One Tree Hill for CW, and Disney Channel’s Sonny with a Chance and So Random. His film credits include Disney’s Wild Hogs and The Shaggy Dog; DreamWorks’ Norbit and A Thousand Words; and Sony Pictures’ Radio.

Viacom acquired Awesomeness in July 2018.

From Variety:

Hancock Park House Sells for $19 Million, Shatters Neighborhood Record

Seller: Brian Robbins & Tracy JamesLocation: Hancock Park, Los Angeles, Calif.Price: $19 millionSize: 9,676 square feet, 9 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms
While 2019’s first half was a particularly sluggish time for L.A.’s luxury real estate market, the back half made for the wildest year to date, bowing out with three $100+ million transactions and tallying no fewer than 17 other deals of $30 million or more.

And 2020 already seems on track for more of the same. Last month, a Hollywood Hills compound went for an unprecedented $75 million, and now another record sale has quietly been consummated. In late January, an imposing red-brick Tudor home in L.A.’s historic Hancock Park neighborhood quietly transferred off-market for a rather shocking $19 million, easily the biggest area transaction ever notched.

Sold by Nickelodeon president Brian Robbins and his wife Tracy James, the hulking structure was originally built in 1925 and sits on the premier block of what is arguably the neighborhood’s best street. In 2007, the property was acquired by prolific TV producer John Wells, who kept the old-world architecture intact but added more contemporary conveniences to the inside. About two years ago, he sold the estate to Robbins and James for a relatively paltry $12.4 million.

And the $19 million deal easily blows away the neighborhood’s previous-record holder, the 2015 sale of Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas’s storied Isidor Eisner estate, which went for $15.95 million to Netflix COO Ted Sarandos and his Beverly Hills-bred wife Nicole Avant.

What’s even more eye-popping about this latest transaction, however, is that the Isidor Eisner estate includes a much larger house — more than 15,000 square feet of living space, per tax records — on a double lot spanning more than 1.5 acres of flat land. The Robbins estate, by contrast, makes do a relatively modest .85 acres of elbow room.

It remains unclear what — if any — changes Robbins made to the property beyond the cosmetic alterations typical at this price point, though the much-increased pricetag indicates some extensive interior renovations were undertaken. But at the time the couple acquired it, in late 2017, the house sported 9 bedrooms and 11 baths in about 9,600 square feet of living space. There are (or were) a proper north/south-facing tennis court, multiple fireplaces, a double-height foyer, an eat-in kitchen with designer appliances, lustrous hardwood floors, manicured grounds, a gazebo and two-story pool/guesthouse with accessory living quarters.

The record-busting buyers, businessman Thomas J. Swan III and his husband Joe Townley, previously owned a different Hancock Park home that was purchased for $11.3 million in 2015 from legally-embattled developer Robert Quigg, who infamously fled the country shortly after.

Back in 2016, Swan told the Larchmont Chronicle that the Quigg house was, in essence, a mess; there were issues with the HVAC system, the garage door motors, wiring and chimney flues. Records show he sold that property late last year, in another off-market deal, for just $9.2 million to an Oaktree Capital managing director — a hefty $2.1 million loss before taxes, carrying costs and realtor fees.

But any past quality concerns and multimillion-dollar financial gut punches clearly didn’t dissuade Swan and Townley from upping their investment in the neighborhood. The couple’s new mansion, mostly hidden from passersby behind rigorously manicured ornamental hedges and carefully pruned trees, lies on the same tree-lined street as the homes of Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, Mercury Insurance founder George Joseph and actor Max Greenfield.

Robbins and James have moved on to a snazzy new Paul McClean-designed contemporary home in Beverly Hills they picked up last week, paying $16.8 million. They also continue to maintain a stunningly picturesque $7 million ranch up north in Carpinteria, Calif., acquired from Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi last summer.


More Nick: 2020 on Nickelodeon: New Shows, Specials, Events, Movies, Episodes, and More!

Originally published: Thursday, February 06, 2020.
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