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Party House Seeks Property Tax Breaks

The 1926 Tudor, dubbed the House of Rock after a recent renovation, could become the 55th Santa Monica property to receive reduced taxes under the Mills Act.

Owners of the Kathryn Grayson Estate—which has come to be known as a party house for the routine charitable fundraisers hosted there—have applied to the city to receive reduced property tax assessments under the Mills Act.

The subsidies are meant to encourage the owners to preserve and maintain the historic estate, which abuts the Riviera Country Club on La Mesa Drive.

If a Mills Act contract is approved by the Santa Monica City Council, staffers estimate the property taxes would be lowered to $12,127 from $90,204. Of that, the city would receive $1,940 instead of $14,433.

There are currently 54 historic Santa Monica properties under Mills Act contracts, with reductions ranging from 11 to 82 percent. City staffers' estimate of the Kathryn Grayson estate reductions put it at 86.6 percent. 

Built in 1926, the home was commissioned by A.N. Kemp, then vice president of California Bank. It was named for actress and opera singer Kathryn Grayson, who lived there from 1945 until her death in 2010.

Because the home is already fully restored and in good shape, the City Council's Landmarks Commission has recommended it not be enrolled in the Mills Act.

City planning staffers disagree. "The building is in excellent repair but, as with all historic properties, it will require on-going maintenance to ensure preservation of the landmark," they wrote in a report to the council.

On Nov. 14, the City Council moved to shut down the parties thrown at the estate, now dubbed "The House of Rock." After Grayson's death, the home was purchased by Greg Briles and Elaine Culotti.  

See: Council Adopts Law Taking Aim at House of Rock

The couple commissioned high-end designers to decorate rooms under the common theme of "music," then began using the home as a venue for charitable fundraisers hosted by corporate sponsors, such as KISS FM and Verizon.

The city's leaders contend the parties are a marketing ploy to sell the estate.

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JohnCySmith.com November 26, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Note to City Council: Follow the advice of the Landmarks Commission... Just say "no"...
Glenn E Grab November 27, 2012 at 04:16 PM
the owners of this place are nothing if not blatent.....holding money-making commercial parties and then asking for an historical-site tax break!!!.....I don't think the people who live in the area can be too happy about their streets being used for valet parking several nights a week....they pay the full rate on their property taxes...
Reggie barns November 28, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Fact is it's a landmark property and they have to be treated fairly with other properties under the same designation. The fact that they have events that raise money for charity and a few neighbors don't like money to be raised on the street with parties is really irrelevant. It's a designation for the home not the owners. the purpose is to make sure it is maintained no matter who owns it. Glenn - you are basing your comments on your dislike for someone vs. what is fair.
Glenn E Grab November 29, 2012 at 02:03 AM
reggie, my comments had nothing to do with anyone personally, that came from you only...please try to base your argument on what I wrote, don't put words in my mouth...here's a fact....the owners just put the house up for sale at a price that is about 3 and one half times what they paid for it two years ago...so much for charity....
Reggie barns November 29, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Your comments seem very personal and your response very defensive. Based on your comment you must have seen their P&L. I didn't know they were a publicly traded company. So your against someone using their home to raise money for charity and for making a good investment?? Ok. Your point is well made.

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