Living: For $11 Mil, Xanadu with a Rolls

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Superluxurious Los Angeles condos cater to an unlanded gentry

If Samuel Taylor Coleridge were a contemporary real estate developer, he would not have decreed a stately pleasure dome in Xanadu but on a milelong strip of Los Angeles' Wilshire Boulevard. That is where the smart money and the most luxurious dreams currently reside. When construction is finished within two years, 21 high-rise condominium towers will dominate the skyline west of Beverly Hills. They will outprice any concentration of privately owned apartments in the world, including Paris' fashionable Avenue Foch and the moneyed battlements of Manhattan's Park and Fifth Avenues.

One of the four buildings slated to open this summer, L'Elysee, will reap a whopping $68 million for its 109 units, according to the French Najar brothers, builders of the 20-story golden tower. Two-bedroom condos will be a steal at $500,000. Top of the line: $11 million seven-bedroom penthouses at the Wilshire House, with a Rolls-Royce and vanity license plate thrown in. The Rolls may be necessary just to navigate across the 7,000 sq. ft. of floor space, which stretches from one of the eight bath rooms to the climate-controlled wine cellar.

Says Chris Leinberger, executive vice president of Robert Charles Lesser and Co., a marketing consulting firm involved in eight of the Los Angeles ventures: "This strip is the state of the art in condo design." A well-heeled public seems to agree. L'Elysee's recent open house drew 2,000 enthusiastic prospects.

The décor of available condos can be described as Conspicuous Consumption Baroque. Bathrooms, the size of minigyms, will contain more Carrara marble than Michelangelo ever sculpted. Some are sans bidets because, the Najar brothers claim, Americans would just plant flowers in them. In the Longford, ordinary Los Angeles water flows from the mouths of dolphin-shaped taps that are plated with 24-karat gold. Other homey touches: large foyers for art treasures, crystal chandeliers and private screening rooms—and owners will be able to summon, with the press of a button, pet walkers, masseuses, engineers and secretaries. The 31-story L'Evian devotes an entire floor to 21 apartments for maids. For those who want to get out of the house, there is an elegant private club, the Regency, just down the street.

Who are the tenants? According to the Najar brothers, they are people who are edging into their 50s. For them, the pastoral pleasures of estate living have lost their appeal, creating a new leisure class: the unlanded gentry. One building boasts an airline owner, three movie stars and a scattering of upper-crust physicians and attorneys. "I know my art collection will be there when I come home," says Alice Linet, 49, a Belgian diamond dealer, who will leave her luxurious Beverly Hills home (with pool) for Wilshire House. Mrs. Lee Abrams, 46, who moved to the Longford from a San Fernando Valley estate, agrees: ''I hate a house. The plumbing is always going out, the roof needs repair, and the gardeners are always quitting. This makes me feel elegant. The valet will even put away your groceries."

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