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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bigger is always better for the McMansion master of Echo Park

Randy Bailly, the man who built and lives in Echo Park’s most infamous McMansion, was sitting in front of his newest creation, two stories, four bedrooms and 3,200 square feet of cream colored stucco. The “Open House” sign in front of 2230 Avon Street beckoned people to come inside. But I was not welcome. I wanted to talk to Bailly about his homes and plans for some nearby hillside lots that he had purchased, according to neighbors.

“I don’t have to explain myself to anyone,” said Bailly in a polite but firm manner during a recent Sunday afternoon. With that, Bailly, dressed in cargo shorts and a yellow polo-style shirt, walked inside and waited until I left.

There had been many Sunday Open Houses in the year since Bailly completed the Avon Street house (top photo) in the Elysian Heights section of the neighborhood. Its price had been chopped from $985,000 to $875,000. The property was recently taken off the market and the “For Sale” sign removed from the front yard, leaving behind a neat square hole in the ground where the post once stood. I would like to think it was a tough sale because this home, which looked like it had escaped from some gated community in Santa Clarita, appears so out-of-place with the far smaller and older homes around it and so out-of-synch with the sensibility of buyers interested in living in a century-old neighborhood. But, of course, watching prices fall more than 25% year is going to make selling any house tough going these days.

Bailly is obviously proud of his properties. The Randy Bailly Realty sign even includes a drawing of his own home. If you want to see the real thing, just walk west from the Avon Street house along Cerro Gordo Street. Go up and down two steep hills and then look up. You can’t miss it: three stories and 3,609-square feet of faded peach stucco standing behind a rectangular sheet of lawn fronted by rose bushes and an iron gate (middle photo). It thrusts up into the sky, beyond a canopy of trees and the roofs of neighboring homes. I wonder if this house, built in 1994, is Echo Park’s first McMansion.

“He is proud of his houses and says they are top quality,” said one of Bailly’s neighbors, who did not want to be identified. “When I tell him that it is not the quality but the scale and context that concerns the neighbors, he says that we ‘should be thankful’ that he has increased home values in Echo Park. When community opposition to his houses is mentioned he becomes very defensive and threatens to build even bigger to spite his neighbors.”

If you keep walking west from Bailly’s house along a narrow and winding stretch of Cerro Gordo you will arrive at the lots he apparently has purchased amid the jungle of pepper and palm trees that shade this part of Elysian Heights. One of the lots includes a tiny, white cabin that could easily fit into Bailly’s garage.

With the real estate market in shambles, it’s not clear when or what Bailly will build here on Cerro Gordo. But I’m sure that what it ever it is we won’t be able to miss it even if we tried. 



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