What can you do about an abandoned house under construction with a 4500 square foot hole in the ground, 30 feet deep?
That’s what Rudy and Myrna Gintel are asking themselves. The construction was begun months ago on the house next door by Robert L. Quigg, a developer from Vancouver, who had, at one time, at least a half dozen luxury projects under construction in Hancock Park, Windsor Square and Fremont Place.
Quigg attracted attention for his large scale projects that removed all but the footprint of a house, leaving only the exterior facade to comply with historic preservation guidelines. The new homes also featured huge basements, some with underground parking, allowing him to add thousands of additional square feet of living space. He told the Larchmont Chronicle in July, 2015 that he’d invested some $20 million in the five homes he was working on at the time.
Last month, Quigg filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy on some seventeen companies he operated…and then disappeared, seemingly without a trace. His website is down and the phone number on his projects has been disconnected. Calls to his office go to an automated voicemail system.
Quigg has abandoned the project next door to the Gintels at 344 South Rimpau, leaving a massive hole in the ground and huge mounds of uncovered dirt. The original house was considered non-conforming in the Hancock Park HPOZ, allowing Quigg to demolish it. When work started on the project, workers told the Gintels they were building a three story house, one below ground and two above, each being 4500 square feet. Reportedly parking for six cars was planned on the basement or subterranean level, along with two bedrooms, a bathroom and an entertainment center.
The Gintels are concerned about the current rains and whether the unfinished project couldundermine the substructure of their home, which sits about 5 feet higher than the Quigg property. Ideally, they would like the open trenches where the basement level was excavated to be filled, since that level seems to be complete and the mounds covered or removed so the dirt stays on the site.
To date, the Gintels have been unable to get any information about who is responsible now that Quigg is out of the picture. They have calls into the City Council District 4 office and the LA Department of Building and Safety, asking for more information about what the city can do to compel securing the site. The Buzz’s calls to the inspector in charge have not yet been returned.
In all, there were eight properties that Quigg purchased over the past several years. Only two have sold, three are nearly completed and three – including 344 South Rimpau, 366 South Hudson and 428 South June – are under varying degrees of construction.
Quigg began acquiring properties in the neighborhood in 2014, seeking to create a new high-end luxury home with all the amenities common the Westside of LA, but inside the historic envelope of Hancock Park and Windsor Square.
“On the positive side, low interest rates have allowed speculators to come into the neighborhood and re-define luxury in 2016 in our historic neighborhood,” said Anne Loveland, a realtor with Loveland Carr. “The question is how many of these uber luxury houses can this neighborhood support at one time — with the emphasis on “at one time,”” said Loveland.
Below is a list of the properties owned by Quigg, the purchase dates and prices and the re-sale price for the two he sold. Clearly, Quigg did well on the two he sold. But what happens now to the unsold properties? According to insiders, the bankruptcy property could take up to six months to work out. Quigg also owns another three properties in Bel Air.
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