Stewart and Lynda Resnick are improving their splendid and historic estate at 9481 Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills.
Among other details, the project involved buying the two lots adjacent to their 1929 Beaux Arts mansion (already a done deal) and installing an extensive grove of mature orange trees as well as moving the entry gates. Landscape architect Mark Rios, partner at Rios Clementi Hale Studios and A. C. Martin Visiting Professor in Architectural Design at USC, is in charge of the landscaping.
The 16,000-plus-square-foot mansion, which looks a full generation older than its official 1928 date and could be by McKim, Mead and White, was designed by architect Francis Xavier Lourdou* for Dionicio Botiller and his wife, Francisca Bernard Botiller. Francisca was the daughter of Swiss immigrant businessman Jean Bernard and Susana Machado de Bernard (as a widow, Susana built the mansion at 845 South Lake Street in the West Adams district); Dionicio was a land-owner and (later) tax collector for Beverly Hills, according to his great-great-granddaughter. (I'm still piecing together the history of this estate, so any further info would be appreciated.)
The Resnicks recently petitioned the Beverly Hills Planning Commission for a variance that would allow them to fence the entire property with new above-code (i.e. over six-foot) fencing replicating the existing historic fence, and to bring the new fence up to the property line instead of conforming to the mandated 36-inch setback.
The existing 17-foot gate posts will be removed to either end of the new, expanded estate, which measures a whopping 535 feet of prime Sunset Boulevard streetfront, and will be offset into the property to allow for "stacking" of automobiles entering and leaving the property so as not to block traffic. Happily, the house will remain open to view from the street, unlike so many foliage-shrouded Beverly Hills mansions.
The variance was granted by a thrilling 3-to-1 vote (some watch college football; I watch Planning Commission hearings). The complete blow-by-blow of the November 19 session includes an appearance by the formidable and forthright Lynda Resnick (allow time to load; it's item no. 3 on the agenda).
So, you're may be asking, where did the money come from?
The Resnicks, through their holding company, Roll International, are owners of Telefora florist delivery service, the Franklin Mint, Neptune Pacific shipping line, Fiji Water, and POM pomegranate juice, among other business interests. (See this interesting story on POM from The Guardian.)
Stewart Resnick, who worked his way through UCLA by washing windows, also owns major tracts of corporate farmland in California's Central Valley, including pistachios, almonds, lemons, oranges, and—of course—pomegranates.
The couple, near billionaires who have a liberal bent in both politics and charity, have donated tens of millions to philanthropic causes, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (the Renzo Piano–designed Resnick Pavilion) and funds for a psychiatric hospital at UCLA and an energy institute at Cal Tech. Lynda is an occasional blogger on The Huffington Post.