Destination LA: West Malibu

Los Angeles and Ventura counties are teeming with precious pockets of interest that merit further investigation. Beginning with this issue, we will highlight one area in the region and delve […]

Los Angeles and Ventura counties are teeming with precious pockets of interest that merit further investigation. Beginning with this issue, we will highlight one area in the region and delve into aspects of its residential and commercial allure. 

Malibu’s breathtaking coastal views and remote geography have long made it a haven for the well-heeled. The western-most section of this magical 27-mile stretch—about 80 acres in all—sets a serene standard for the enduring appeal of the tony enclave of 13,000 that was incorporated as a city in 1991. We won’t argue that the swath of land to the east, associated with cities such as Santa Monica and the Pacific Palisades, has its appeal. But the commercial and residential growth, evidenced by developments such as Trancas Country Market, MariSol Malibu, and the recently announced The Malibu Institute, brings a fresh sheen to this rural environment.

Richard Morris and Ronald Coleman, the principal owners of MariSol, have been involved in the project, which covers 80 acres and provides 17 private estates, since 2004. They embarked on the project with the goal of preserving and maintaining an ecologically responsible image. To that end, they began harvesting more than 20,000 native plants to bring life to the setting and keep its beginnings close to nature.

Marisol Malibu

“The one thing that has been a reward to our buyers,” says Morris, “is that it is exceptionally private and secure, has lush gardens, and has created a community that is serene, which is what that whole west end of Malibu is about.” Calling the western end of Malibu “Southern California’s best kept secret,” Morris points out that due to its low density within the coastal community, the location “is a playground … much different from anywhere else in Malibu.”

The stunning beauty of MariSol would be a pipe dream without the help of Doug Burdge, acknowledges Morris. Regarded as the signature architect of Malibu, Burdge and his team at Burdge & Associates have built more than 100 high-end estates in the region. Although his mentor, famed Santa Barbara architect Barry Berkus, passed away before much of the work in West Malibu came to fruition, Burdge dutifully tries to maintain the vision his predecessor set forth. “The greatest thing about Malibu is that you feel like you are living in the country but you are still close to the city,” he says. “It’s an area where someone can feel like they live in a different state because nature is such a big part.”

While MariSol is the residential gem of the western Malibu area, The Trancas Country Market shopping center bustles with new businesses, including Bu Beach House, a décor and home furnishing store owned by Burdge and his wife, Laura. Independent grocer Eric Fuchser opened Vintage Grocers in 2014 in the space previously occupied by Hows Market. “The western side of Malibu is such a great escape for many folks,” says Fuchser. “We have been embraced here and the climate is amazing. We offer many of the nice amenities here, but with a more hometown feel, and it’s a great hangout for everybody.” In addition, restaurateur Antonio Alessi of Tra di Noi fame, threw his toque into the mix, opening Italian eatery Mangia Italian Countryside Eatery in 2014.

Finally, a world-class golf course, The Malibu Institute, will be breaking ground in the coming months, with completion slated for sometime in 2017, according to developer Tom Hix. “We purchased the property in May 2006 and we saw that this is iconic, one-of-a-kind real estate for a course in Malibu,” states Hix. A 650-acre site designed by the Jackson Kahn group, The Malibu Institute will occupy the site once held by the former Malibu Golf Club. The property features “The Institute,” a 56,000 sq. ft. building for meeting space, 44 bungalows for overnight accommodations, a wellness facility, and a pro shop grill. “If you’re a golfer,” says Hix, “there is very little quality public access golf in LA, and this project will have a resort feel in terms of golf quality in Malibu, and is the only and last project like this anywhere in the region.”

The beauty of Malibu, sums up Richard Morris, is that depending on where you are, “it will be a mountain-type feeling, or a coastal-type feeling.” If you want to get away – but still be part of the action – Western Malibu is the place to be.

Malibu 90265

Pop. 12,861*
Incorporated 1991
Miles of coastline
51 Civic organizations
$135,520 Median household income**
$2.6mm Median home price
12.6 million visitors per year
* As of 2013
** As of 2014

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