$53 Million Home Has a Subterranean Secret

Now on the market: One of L.A.’s most lavish Mediterranean mansions featuring five levels underground.

Hacienda de la Paz Underground Tennis Court/Ballroom

Photo by: Mark Singer Photography Believe it or not, this subterranean, USTA-regulation tennis court doubles as a ballroom and emergency shelter. Five stories high and capable of seating 350 guests, the room is decorated with floor-to-ceiling trompe l’oeil murals. 

From the outside, Hacienda de la Paz may look like a typical, multimillion-dollar spread in the gated equestrian neighborhood of Rolling Hills, on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. But go inside, and you’ll find it’s anything but typical.

Since the community requires that all homes must be one story high, the owner, John Z. Blazevich, chief executive of the Viva Food Group, spent 17 years excavating and constructing five stories underground — and they’re among the most lavish accommodations in Los Angeles — maybe in all of California. He raised his son on the estate, which he is now putting on the market for $53 million because he plans to return to Croatia and enter the family wine-making business, according to the Los Angeles Times

The residence totals 50,000 square feet, complemented by sprawling grounds. One of its more extraordinary features would be the full-size, 10,000-sqaure-foot Moroccan-style Turkish bath, or hammam, with a cobalt-blue lap pool at its center, accented with 24-karat gold tiles, fountains and imported columns and corbels.

Then there’s the subterranean ballroom that doubles as a USTA regulation tennis court and emergency shelter. Five stories high and capable of seating 350 guests, the vast room is decorated with floor-to-ceiling trompe l’oeil murals. But you can also play tennis outside, on the red-clay tennis court built to French Open specifications.

You might be detecting a Mediterranean theme here, and you would be right. Many of the materials were imported from Spain, Portugal and Italy, and the workers and craftsmen who painted the murals and frescoes, inlaid the tile work and installed elaborate ceilings, fireplaces, floors and carpets, were also brought from the European countries to guarantee authenticity.

And to take it a giant step further, Rafael Manzano Martos, renowned curator for King Juan Carlos of Spain, was brought in to oversee development. Hacienda de la Paz is the only home in the Americas to have been designed by Manzano, who is noted throughout Spain and the Middle East for his hotels, commercial buildings and homes.

While the underground features are staggering, the eight acres above ground are also impressive. The property is lush with orchards and Mediterranean herbs trees and flowers that grow in traditional Moorish gardens, patterned after an early 1900s Andalusia country estate. An olive grove produces fruit for pressing into oil.

Also keeping with Spanish tradition, the main house is flanked by attached “stables” — reconfigured as guest quarters — and there is a private chapel. Buildings have custom-forged door and window fixtures, as well as tile roofing created by the same artisans who have restored the roofs of the California missions.

The estate has nine bedrooms and 25 bathrooms, partially because massive ballrooms and tennis courts benefit from public-style facilities. In addition, there are orchards, a wine cellar, two elevators and 24-hour security. And of course it includes standard mansion features such as a library/office, media room, traditional kitchen, game room and bar, plus an above-ground pool.

And to dispel concern about the structure in earthquake prone California, all buildings on the property have been structurally engineered to counteract seismic activity, and the walls are braced with steel beams.

“Never in my career in the Los Angeles luxury real estate market have I seen a property quite like Hacienda de la Paz,” said Marcie Hartley, the listing agent with Christie’s International Real Estate’s exclusive affiliate, Hilton & Hyland.  “This amazing, meticulously designed residence is surely L.A.’s best-kept secret.”

Now that that secret is out, it will be interesting to see what kind of buyers are attracted to this unique estate. After all, the price is more than four times as high as the next most expensive property in the area. It's reported that wealthy Chinese buyers are drawn to the area, and the property is particularly appealing to those who crave privacy, along with those who like to entertain. We’ll keep you posted.


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