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La Jolla on the western slope of Mt. Soledad

“Built by the renowned Marengo Coastal Development”

Nothing says “Look what I’m driving!” like a glass garage door.
Nothing says “Look what I’m driving!” like a glass garage door.

Sometimes, the houses become a blur. Over the years at Unreal Estate, we’ve had the chance to look at some interesting, unique properties, such as the hospital-turned-into-condos last week, a Queen Anne in Carlsbad once occupied by alleged bootleggers and human smugglers, or the funky Point Loma house with a waterfall in the middle of the living room.

But then, this being a column primarily about the richest people living in one of the country’s most unaffordable markets (just 14% of San Diegans can afford the area’s median-priced home, a worse figure than any of the notoriously expensive Bay Area counties), we tend to see a lot of how those wealthy residents want to live. And it turns out that many of these folks have very similar ideas about what constitutes taste and class. And so, after every dive into a quirky condo or century-old Craftsman, I must return to the eight-figure odes to ostentation that litter the more desirable enclaves of our California coastline. Things can get tricky here, as every listing description is likely to reference a “chef’s dream kitchen,” listing off appliances that each cost more than my car, or a “resort-quality pool” that usually involves a disappearing edge and/or a gorgeous ocean view. Private movie theaters, climate-controlled wine rooms, multiple features described as “custom” that look the same as hundreds of others we’ve seen? All par for the course.

Also, homes this expensive can often take years to sell, going on- and off-market several times, with a new real estate agent posting new photos and a new description of the standard luxury features each time. More than once, I’ve picked a house, read listing copy, perused photos, and then (hopefully before getting halfway into my story) caught a glimpse of something that looked entirely too familiar. Then it’s off to the rabbit hole of archives to make sure we didn’t already talk about this house three, five, eight years ago. Often, it’s back to the drawing board from there.

Tired: sliding door. Wired: sliding wall.

Which brings us to 6545 El Camino Del Teatro in La Jolla: 4643 square feet of living space including five bedrooms and a total of eight baths — all built in 2022. Surely it hasn’t been listed before, so I couldn’t have written about it already, right? Wrong – it was offered in 2018 while construction was still underway. Happily, I didn’t bite then. Let’s head inside.

Our first photo is a west-facing shot of the Pacific, about a mile distant from our perch in the Muirlands neighborhood on the western slope of Mt. Soledad. There’s just a peek of ocean from here, but the location is still pleasant. Next we get a twilight shot of the exterior, with many windows on all levels alight, along with some torch lights highlighting the wall by the pool deck. Even the garage door appears to be made of glass, so that our cars don’t miss out on the view. Another westward view looking out over the pool follows — to me, this one sells the seascape much better than the first.

“Built by the renowned Marengo Coastal Development,” the Zillow remarks begin, “this home features ocean views from every room, impeccable stone and tile work, an infinity pool with jacuzzi, and an expansive rooftop terrace great for large events or intimate parties.” Okay, that hits on some of our buzzwords right out of the gate.

A few more aerials focus on the exterior, mostly the pool. The last couple of pictures we get before heading inside show the patio deck and its oversized disappearing glass walls that open the living room completely to the outside, which is a feature I’ve written about many times before, but also one I happen to like a lot and would enjoy even more if I lived a mile from the beach and could use it to catch a fresh breeze blowing off the ocean.

When we do make it inside, we’re confronted with a small white room decorated with a small table and one mirrored wall that appears to have a door cut into it. What is behind this door? How do we access it? There doesn’t appear to be a doorknob, and just pushing on the mirror with our unwashed hands is going to leave a bunch of unpleasant marks. A mystery!

The description of how the “spacious kitchen offers custom Navarro cabinets, LeMans slide out storage spaces, and an array of kitchen appliances from a Wolf six-burner stove to sub-zero fridge and freezer” does not disappoint in invoking the custom nature of appointments befitting a house of this stature, and indeed, the fancy appliance brands are appropriately name-checked. The first nighttime picture makes things seem too dark, but the tile backsplash is intriguing and the big center island provides plenty of bar seating for friends to hang out, implying that this is a space for normal people to cook in and entertain, rather than one intended primarily for your chef-servant.

Another shot of the living room reveals that the fireplace is either extremely short but very long, or that the television mounted above it is extremely large and the fireplace is normal height but still very long. A half-bath looks like it belongs in a fancy restaurant instead of a house, but the big slab counter with built-in sink and backlit semi-circular mirror still look good.

The main bedroom photo seems to confirm that these fireplaces are indeed smallish, and while many of the rooms would be a bit white for my taste, some smart choices in tile work (including the chrome curlicues on the bathroom wall surrounding the tub) do just enough to bring life to the space while still being unoffensive to the wide variety of decors prospective buyers might implement. There’s “an area for a walk-in closet,” which I assume means that there is not currently a closet? Another mystery!

The rest of the photo gallery takes us quickly through a few more bedrooms and baths, all strikingly modern and a bit bland, save for the choice of tile and a collection of eye-catching light fixtures, but all serviceable and quite pleasant nonetheless. The listing would also like us to know there’s an elevator from the garage to the main level, a CCTV security system and alarm, “and intercom system to ensure the home never goes unwatched. All these features, as well as the pool and fountain, can be controlled via iPhone or iPad.” And of course, there are “endless opportunities to further customize the home by creating a home gym, home office, home theater and more.”

“After years in the making, this unparalleled home is ready for its unparalleled buyer to call home!” concludes the listing.

Public records indicate that builder Marengo Coast Development purchased the El Camino Del Teatro property in early 2017 for a reported $1.955 million, when the site housed a “classic 1-level Nantucket remodel” built in 1955. It was listed for sale unfinished in 2018 for just under $6 million, then again for $10.5 million in early January. After that listing expired, the home went back up in March with a reduced price of $9,585,000 that remains unchanged to date.

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Nothing says “Look what I’m driving!” like a glass garage door.
Nothing says “Look what I’m driving!” like a glass garage door.

Sometimes, the houses become a blur. Over the years at Unreal Estate, we’ve had the chance to look at some interesting, unique properties, such as the hospital-turned-into-condos last week, a Queen Anne in Carlsbad once occupied by alleged bootleggers and human smugglers, or the funky Point Loma house with a waterfall in the middle of the living room.

But then, this being a column primarily about the richest people living in one of the country’s most unaffordable markets (just 14% of San Diegans can afford the area’s median-priced home, a worse figure than any of the notoriously expensive Bay Area counties), we tend to see a lot of how those wealthy residents want to live. And it turns out that many of these folks have very similar ideas about what constitutes taste and class. And so, after every dive into a quirky condo or century-old Craftsman, I must return to the eight-figure odes to ostentation that litter the more desirable enclaves of our California coastline. Things can get tricky here, as every listing description is likely to reference a “chef’s dream kitchen,” listing off appliances that each cost more than my car, or a “resort-quality pool” that usually involves a disappearing edge and/or a gorgeous ocean view. Private movie theaters, climate-controlled wine rooms, multiple features described as “custom” that look the same as hundreds of others we’ve seen? All par for the course.

Also, homes this expensive can often take years to sell, going on- and off-market several times, with a new real estate agent posting new photos and a new description of the standard luxury features each time. More than once, I’ve picked a house, read listing copy, perused photos, and then (hopefully before getting halfway into my story) caught a glimpse of something that looked entirely too familiar. Then it’s off to the rabbit hole of archives to make sure we didn’t already talk about this house three, five, eight years ago. Often, it’s back to the drawing board from there.

Tired: sliding door. Wired: sliding wall.

Which brings us to 6545 El Camino Del Teatro in La Jolla: 4643 square feet of living space including five bedrooms and a total of eight baths — all built in 2022. Surely it hasn’t been listed before, so I couldn’t have written about it already, right? Wrong – it was offered in 2018 while construction was still underway. Happily, I didn’t bite then. Let’s head inside.

Our first photo is a west-facing shot of the Pacific, about a mile distant from our perch in the Muirlands neighborhood on the western slope of Mt. Soledad. There’s just a peek of ocean from here, but the location is still pleasant. Next we get a twilight shot of the exterior, with many windows on all levels alight, along with some torch lights highlighting the wall by the pool deck. Even the garage door appears to be made of glass, so that our cars don’t miss out on the view. Another westward view looking out over the pool follows — to me, this one sells the seascape much better than the first.

“Built by the renowned Marengo Coastal Development,” the Zillow remarks begin, “this home features ocean views from every room, impeccable stone and tile work, an infinity pool with jacuzzi, and an expansive rooftop terrace great for large events or intimate parties.” Okay, that hits on some of our buzzwords right out of the gate.

A few more aerials focus on the exterior, mostly the pool. The last couple of pictures we get before heading inside show the patio deck and its oversized disappearing glass walls that open the living room completely to the outside, which is a feature I’ve written about many times before, but also one I happen to like a lot and would enjoy even more if I lived a mile from the beach and could use it to catch a fresh breeze blowing off the ocean.

When we do make it inside, we’re confronted with a small white room decorated with a small table and one mirrored wall that appears to have a door cut into it. What is behind this door? How do we access it? There doesn’t appear to be a doorknob, and just pushing on the mirror with our unwashed hands is going to leave a bunch of unpleasant marks. A mystery!

The description of how the “spacious kitchen offers custom Navarro cabinets, LeMans slide out storage spaces, and an array of kitchen appliances from a Wolf six-burner stove to sub-zero fridge and freezer” does not disappoint in invoking the custom nature of appointments befitting a house of this stature, and indeed, the fancy appliance brands are appropriately name-checked. The first nighttime picture makes things seem too dark, but the tile backsplash is intriguing and the big center island provides plenty of bar seating for friends to hang out, implying that this is a space for normal people to cook in and entertain, rather than one intended primarily for your chef-servant.

Another shot of the living room reveals that the fireplace is either extremely short but very long, or that the television mounted above it is extremely large and the fireplace is normal height but still very long. A half-bath looks like it belongs in a fancy restaurant instead of a house, but the big slab counter with built-in sink and backlit semi-circular mirror still look good.

The main bedroom photo seems to confirm that these fireplaces are indeed smallish, and while many of the rooms would be a bit white for my taste, some smart choices in tile work (including the chrome curlicues on the bathroom wall surrounding the tub) do just enough to bring life to the space while still being unoffensive to the wide variety of decors prospective buyers might implement. There’s “an area for a walk-in closet,” which I assume means that there is not currently a closet? Another mystery!

The rest of the photo gallery takes us quickly through a few more bedrooms and baths, all strikingly modern and a bit bland, save for the choice of tile and a collection of eye-catching light fixtures, but all serviceable and quite pleasant nonetheless. The listing would also like us to know there’s an elevator from the garage to the main level, a CCTV security system and alarm, “and intercom system to ensure the home never goes unwatched. All these features, as well as the pool and fountain, can be controlled via iPhone or iPad.” And of course, there are “endless opportunities to further customize the home by creating a home gym, home office, home theater and more.”

“After years in the making, this unparalleled home is ready for its unparalleled buyer to call home!” concludes the listing.

Public records indicate that builder Marengo Coast Development purchased the El Camino Del Teatro property in early 2017 for a reported $1.955 million, when the site housed a “classic 1-level Nantucket remodel” built in 1955. It was listed for sale unfinished in 2018 for just under $6 million, then again for $10.5 million in early January. After that listing expired, the home went back up in March with a reduced price of $9,585,000 that remains unchanged to date.

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