By Casey Henry
The Hollywood sign may soon have unexpected neighbors.
Today, Teles Realtors held a press conference declaring the 138 acres of hillside land surrounding the iconic Hollywood landmark officially for sale. The Cahuenga Peak acreage, which has long been in private hands and was once owned by Howard Hughes, is being peddled for a cool $22 million - a notable increase from the previous appraisal of $6 million by the Los Angeles city officials.
With the land legally zoned to allow five lots of residential construction, the rugged and largely untouched hill may one day be dotted with mansions.
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Ryan Croy, a spokesman for the landowner, claims that mansion estates are one of many options. "The property can be consolidated into one estate, or it could just be wilderness with someone's name on it," Croy says - for a price.
Offers began flooding in the moment the property was placed on the market. The managing agent, Ernie Carswell, won't say if any of the queries were serious, but hinted that the land could go to a foreign buyer, saying it is available to any "quality buyer throughout the world."
Residents of Los Angeles and Hollywood now face the prospect that, in a city with few surviving landmarks, those classic overhead shots of the Hollywood sign that appear in movies and blimp closeups will now include overdone manses complete with five-car garages. Croy fanned those fears, saying the property extends to the top of Cahuenga Peak and that an owner could technically "build a home on top" of L.A.'s modest, but widely seen, highest mountain.
Croy insisted that the property "is not on the same ridge as the Hollywood sign and will not block any view of the Hollywood sign." Well, that's comforting.