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Developer Mohamed Hadid of Hadid Development has begun excavation on a mega mansion in scenic Franklin Canyon on land that the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy has attempted to acquire as open space for a number of years.
A protest hike will take place at Franklin Canyon this Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 10am to oppose the destruction of the trail. Go to Save Franklin Canyon's web site or contact Ellen Scott directly for more information on the event.
Paul Edelman of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy described the project history like this on the SaveFranklinCanyon web site:
When the MRCA’s Santa Monica Mountains Open Space Preservation Assessment District No. 1 was funded in 2003 money became available to acquire the subject property.
A first appraisal was done in approximately 2005 covering a minimum of five ownerships along the ridgeline. We were negotiating with virtually every landowner and had a couple of them almost on the hook. They were all shocked that their property had just nominal value because of poor and steep access.
In any case, all of the acquisitions fizzled because of reasons like death, uncooperative partners, unreachable owners, Mr. Hadid, etc… Some of the owners needed cooperation with others to string together access to Coldwater Canyon. Acquisition money was not an issue.
Then Mr. Hadid stepped in at some point and acquired the whole show. He initially said he would not sell for a factor much higher than even the available $3.5 million. Every 9 months or so his agent would check in to see if we do a deal for more.
Ever vigilant to protect this land, the MRCA contacted Mr. Hadid to see if he would hold off on a sale or development while the MRCA did yet another appraisal. That appraisal is dated April 2008. The value did not interest Mr. Hadid. Staff checked with his agent at least two times since then to see if Mr. Hadid had a change of heart to sell at the MRCA’s appraised value. The answer was no.
Staff recently heard through sources that Mr. Hadid had a $10,000,000 offer on the table from a developer wanting to do at least eight estates. To the best of our knowledge that transaction fizzled but the records do show that the property was recently transferred to another entity.
In short, the MRCA cannot pay more than appraised value, and the gap between the owner’s expectations and appraised fair market value has been too great for over five years.