Ever Wanted to Live in a Mansion, Mostly Underground?

by Sasha CarterAugust 30, 2016

Life in the California’s Rolling Hills

Ah, Rolling Hills, California. It’s certainly an idyllic setting. Here, the schools are top-notch, the sidewalks are safe, and the shady lanes are dotted with stately California ranches and elegant Spanish haciendas.

Where else can you enjoy stunning views of the sparkling Pacific Ocean, on horseback, within a gated community in Los Angeles County? It’s no wonder that this little slice of the West Coast is so coveted. This exclusive enclave is one of the wealthiest communities in the country – you can’t move here on a shoestring budget.

Don’t Block the View!

But if you are considering building a multi-story mansion that stretches its monumental spires skyward, Rolling Hills isn’t the place to do it. There are strict zoning laws here that prohibit homes taller than one story. See, the neighbors paid good money for that ocean view, and they don’t want you obstructing it with some residential high-rise.

The lots are generous enough here, and there’s room to build a sizable compound on just about any of them. But what if you’re not content living life on a single level? What if your California Dream won’t be complete without stairways and elevators?

Journey to the Center of the Earth

As the saying goes, when you can’t build out, you build up. But if you can’t build up or out, you can always build… down?

That’s what former owner, Viva Food Group CEO John Z. Blazevich did. This labor of love took almost two decades, and it was a construction project on a scale not often seen in the modern era. The team excavated five stories down into the bedrock to make room for a stunning manse fit for a king (or a Bond villain).

Royal Style

Above ground, you’ll find a 31,000 square-foot hacienda par excellence. And this is no ticky tacky McMansion – it was designed by world-famous architect and curator to the King of Spain (yes really), Rafael Manzano Martos.

As its highbrow pedigree would lead you to expect, this home is a superlative specimen of Spanish architectural style. There are fountained courtyards, vibrant contrasts, and elegant statuary everywhere. There’s even a sun-baked pool with 180-degree views.

Going Down?

But an additional 31,000 square feet and five floors of living space lie beneath the surface. What will we find there?

Let’s start with the Turkish bath. It’s big enough to hold 5 average single-family homes. That’s right: 10,000 square feet of Hammam luxury. There are meeting and refreshment rooms, tubs, a steam room, a massage shower, and an indoor swimming pool with tiles the exact color of the Adriatic Sea. The floors are of imported marble, and those elaborate sandstone carvings were completed by more than 300 Moroccan tribesmen who were flown in for the job.

As impressive as that is, those tribesmen were only a part of the cast of characters that it took to complete this masterwork.

Arts and Crafts

Did you notice all the gold leaf? How could you not, right? The gold leaf work and the immaculate paint on the chapel’s religious figures are the handiwork of a single artist, who spent a full decade completing various projects. Take your shoes off and spend a moment appreciating those luxurious carpets. Those are the work of a team of Indian silk artisans.

Look above you. Those interlocking wood ceilings were crafted by Spanish master carpenters, imported, and assembled on-site by hand. Here, even the bathrooms are a sight to behold. Each of them (there are 9, by the way) features hand-cut Moroccan tiles.

That’s Not All

Did we mention the 15,000 square-foot neoclassical ballroom? What about the five-story, indoor tennis court designed to US Open specs. You know, for those times when you can’t play on the outdoor French Open court because the city won’t let you light it at night.

You Have to See It to Believe It

We’ve already seen an array of wonders here at 1 Buggy Whip Drive, but there’s still plenty more to explore. Want to see the bocce court, the wine cellar, or the equestrian trails? You’ll just have to schedule a showing. But before you do that, you may want to check with your banker. The asking price is $48 million.

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About The Author
Sasha Carter
Sasha is a writer and interior designer who lives in Virginia with her husband and three kids. She developed an interest in high profile homes through her work writing feature stories on them in a local magazine. She knows who is selling and who is buying, and is our go-to gal for any celebrity-owned or million-dollar real estate listings.