By Nick Kirchgessner
Monarch Bay is a picturesque oceanfront community of 214 custom homes surrounding a beautiful private beach club and a pristine California beach.
The community is bordered by Pacific Coast Highway on the east, the Pacific Ocean and Salt Creek Beach on the west, Laguna Beach’s Three Arch Bay on the north and Ritz Cove and the Ritz Carlton on the south.
Most homes have views of the whitewater coastline, Catalina and San Clemente islands, Salt Creek beach, surfers and passing sea life such as whales, dolphins, seals and pelicans. Homes on the westernmost side also enjoy coastal views up to the Palos Verdes peninsula.
Developed beginning in the ‘60s, the homes’ architectural styles run from post modern to Santa Barbara ranch style. There are two distinct areas of Monarch Bay. The upper portion consists of larger lots and has more of a residential community feeling. The “mall” or beachfront portion offers a majority of direct beach views and is accessed via the Beach Club Road gate.
How the community evolved: Once a mixture of secondary and informal beach homes, the community has evolved into more fulltime occupancy and substantial luxury residences. With only 214 homes, there is a close sense of community with most interaction occurring at the beach and Bay Club.
Inside the gated guard entrance to Monarch Bay is a private tennis court and recreation area, utilized year-round by residents and their guests. The private Monarch Bay Beach Club is currently operated by the St. Regis Hotel & Spa. Monarch Bay residents pay a $10 monthly membership fee and enjoy gourmet and al-fresco dining over the sand, cocktail and sports lounge, surf butlers to furnish towels and set up beach chairs and umbrellas, BBQ facilities, showers and lockers. There is also beach parking and handicap facilities.
The community hosts holiday parades and special events. The Bay Club features special dinners and in the summer offers an outdoor grill and bar on their lawn and terrace areas.
The community of w. The leasehold was structured as two 30-year lease periods, 1960-1990 and 1990-2020. The leasehold amount the residents pay is set for each period. When the 1990 readjustment period was approaching, residents were concerned about the increase as well as the ultimate 2020 end of lease. For the annual leasehold, as an example, what was $900 per year adjusted to $2,700 per year. They also negotiated an agreement with the landowner to purchase the land at the end of the lease at a reduced rate.
Recent changes in the economy made it favorable to the landowners and the residents to facilitate an early buyout of the land. Late this past year, the landowners provided their individual values to the residents for their lots. As of now, 48 of the homeowners completed the sale and now are on fee simple land. There are provisions for additional potential opportunities to purchase the land up until 2017. Regardless, the homeowner may purchase their land in 2020 for 65 percent of the appraised value of their lot even if their neighbor does not. This transition phase of changing from lease to fee land is a great opportunity to secure the rights to purchase the land at a reduced value in the future.
Current market activity: There are currently 12 active listings in Monarch Bay ranging from $1.4 million to $8.9 million. The average price per square foot for recent closed sales has been $506 for the upper tier and $1,344 for the mall area.
There are four properties currently in escrow including a stunning four-bedroom “mall” home listed at $4.9 million and a five-bedroom single story of over 5,500 square feet listed at $5.5 million.
Interest points: The terrain in Monarch Bay is very gentle, making it an easy trek to the beach or just daily exercise. There are actually two beaches to walk from the parking area, Salt Creek Beach and Dana Strand Beach, which connects at the Ritz Carlton promontory. There are also nature trails at Dana Headlands as well as adjacent bike and jogging paths that continue inland for several miles.
Over 20 years, Nick Kirchgessner, 61, has lived in three different Monarch Bay homes and makes good use of the beach club, which offers a locals discount on food and beverages.
HOM Sotheby’s International Realty
32356 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, Ca. 92651