Haute Properties: The Celebs of Los Feliz

What’s the Bradmeister up to? Not what the tabloids would have you think. Certainly, the Brangelina pack must get noisy under the roof at times, but Brad Pitt’s recent purchase of a dumpy little place for $1.1 million in Los Angeles’ Los Feliz neighborhood shouldn’t get anyone—including those silly tabloids—jumping to conclusions that he’s jumping the family ship.

Between you, me, and the gaggle of other trick-or-treaters who spotted Brad and Angelina Jolie schlepping their pack of urchins through Malibu Colony last Halloween, they all looked plenty happy together—although Malibu West has taken over as the “in” place to beg for your Halloween candy and we were frankly surprised word hadn’t reached them.

So why did Brad Pitt buy the near-teardown property adjacent to what he already owns? Some would suspect that the operative word there is: teardown. At first blush, many assume that Pitt would join the ranks of other high-profile people who scoff up properties just to knock them down to expand their estates or views.

Don’t count on it in this case. Pitt, a student of Greene & Greene—he’s even co-authored a book on the Blacker House—is a preservationist. You can expect that he’ll restore this little dilapidated house that sits adjacent to the 1915 estate he owns but rarely visits. Beats me how he’ll use the new place once it’s refurbished back to its glory; a period playhouse for the kids?

With this new purchase, Pitt owns close to two acres in the Oaks area of Los Feliz. It’s all part of what was once the Briarcliff Hunting Lodge. Pitt’s newest purchase is believed to have been the dining hall.

As for other celebs who may have a bulldozer on their minds, speculation is that Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen may have such intentions for a property in the Brentwood area that they recently picked up for about $3.1 million. It’s a charming cottage style home that has bloggers gushing over its, well, charm. Given that the pair sold their Malibu Colony house for $15.5 million in 2008, does anyone really think they got swept up in the country’s recession-sparked “downsizing-is-more-meaningful” mood? Me neither. (Certainly not as long as “Cheers” lives in syndication for another 100 years or so.)

But lest we judge too harshly, it’s best to keep in mind that this is Hollywood. In 2003, John Goldwyn (the G in MGM) paid $2.5 million for a 1920s restored Mediterranean in Hancock Park. At the time of the purchase, it was the highest-price-per-square-foot sale on the books. And what’d he do with it? Gutted it like a freshly caught filet. He ripped out the vintage moldings and cast aside period-detailed fireplaces while housing preservationists openly wept. Why did he do it? Because he could.

Haute Living Online Real Estate Editor Ann Brenoff writes for AOL on WalletPop.com and Luxist.com. She also writes the Chief Dwellings column for the Los Angeles Business Journal and manages her own public relations and marketing firm out of Los Angeles. She formerly wrote the Hot Property column for the Los Angeles Times.