Could President Obama Be Desert Bound?

YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: President Obama and the First Lady can’t hardly cross the damn street without an avalanche of rumors they’re on the mad hunt for a post-White House residence. In 2012 there was a ton of tittering — mostly in conservative media outlets — about how big-time Democratic donor Penny Pritzker was gathering funds to buy the Obamas a $35 million house in Kailua, Hawaii and just a few weeks ago there were loads of reports the Obamas actually bought a post-presidency residence in Asheville, N.C. (The White House adamantly denied any purchase in Asheville and this property gossip has yet to turn up evidence a home was bought for or by them in Hawaii.)

Now comes a little presidential real estate scuttlebutt straight out of the California’s hot-as-Hades Coachella Valley where the President and the First Lady spent a scorching Father’s Day weekend holed up in a private residence in the swanky, guard-gated Thunderbird Heights enclave.

During his short visit, the President visited the fabled Sunnylands estate and played a round of golf at Porcupine Creek, the 249-acre Rancho Mirage mega-compound software billionaire Larry Ellison bought in early 2011 for $42.9 million. It’s likely one or both of the Obamas also paid a social call to the Thunderbird Heights home of Michael Smith and James Costas, the former the much-published decorating dervish who did over the Oval Office for the president and the latter a former bigwig at HBO who was recently appointed by the president to the coveted ambassadorship of Spain and Andorra.

Misters Smith and Costas own an 11,000-square-foot compound on 8+ acres at the very tip-top of the Thunderbird Heights enclave that property records show was acquired in September 2011 for $3,050,000. Although not known to be for sale, there is unsubstantiated speculation in the local papers that the Obamas might be interested in acquiring the Smith-Costas crib. This property gossip really hasn’t a clue if the President and/or the First Lady covet the Smith-Costas’s compound or if they peeped properties in Thunderbird Heights or anywhere else in the Coachella Valley for that matter. However, if they did have a look ‘round they surely they had a look-see at the most expensive listing currently on the open market in Thunderbird Heights, a contemporary compound on a gated, 3.29 acre valley view lot with a $4.25 million price tag.

Listing details show the private hilltop estate includes a 6,100-square-foot main house with roomy, open-plan living spaces that spill out to mister-equipped terraces with up-close views of craggy mountains and distant vistas of the incongruously verdant, well-watered desert floor. The main residence’s four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms include an extensive master suite complete with gym, tanning, and spa rooms and, perfect for putting up the cadre of Secret Service agents who will follow them around during their post-presidential years, a 2,000-square-foot guest house provides another three bedrooms and three bathrooms.

Outdoor features include groomed grounds connected by meandering paths and stairways, a rock-formed lagoon with a 20-foot waterfall, a swimming pool, two spas, and a putting green with sand trap.

Our entirely unscientific research indicates the compound is owned by William A. Robinson, a low-profile multi-millionaire most often credited in media reports as the founder of DHL Worldwide Express. Interestingly enough, the mostly under-the-radar Mister Robinson was widely reported in the mid-2000s to be one of the largest donors to the campaign to reelect former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

While Your Mama has a strong suspicion the rumors of a presidential purchase in the Coachella Valley are nothing more than idle real estate chatter, it really wouldn’t be that strange. After all, there’s a long and well-documented list of former presidents who have spent time in the more upscale areas of the Coachella Valley. After he left office in 1977, late president Gerald Ford and his also late wife, Betty Ford, engaged the services of Welton Becket who custom designed a single-story, 6,300-plus-square foot sprawler on a 1.37 acre lot inside the gates of the upscale Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage. In case any of the children might be curious, the Fords’ low-slung home  was sold by the Ford family, according to property records, in March 2012 to Hollywood business manager John McIlwee and DreamWorks honcho Bill Damaschke for $1.57 million.

For photos of the property, click here.

listing photos: Sotheby’s International Realty

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  1. Pastor Russ says:

    A Mexican jail cell would be more preferable for this criminal, from America’s perspective.

  2. Justin Case says:

    Could President Obama Be Desert Bound?

    Hell bound is more like it.
    And fitting.

  3. i suggest this property for obuma, biden, holder….

    5880 HWY 67 SOUTH
    FLORENCE, CO 81226

    they will get free medical, free meals, and it is safe, lots of security and great views…

  4. El Tigre says:

    On second thought, maybe he could get property with a good view of all the lovely wind generators.

  5. El Tigre says:

    Just what California needs, another idiot.

  6. rbblum says:

    It is possible that multiple properties could be purchased . . . for investment purposes . . . or, change of scenery during winter months or vacation months.

  7. Bi B says:

    Looks like they will be living in a virtual paradise . . . Bet he can’t wait for 2017 to roll around, and pout all those phoney (stupid) scandals behind him.

  8. Bud says:

    I always thought the Obamas would move to Ca. after his term. He is still very popular out here. Palm Springs is nice because it’s secluded from LA. but not too far to go to LA for business.

  9. Sandpiper says:

    Lovely fit and finishes, but the harsh lines are anything but calming.

    About this real estate section, as one of Mama’s children with cognitive issues, could we do away with the fixed slide show at the top of DIRT? It defies navigation thereby subtracting from a positive user experience. It creates redundancy / duplicity and there’s no way to return to the story short of hitting the DIRT tab and starting all over again. Thank in advance for for considering.

  10. ChildNo1 says:

    Mama, I’m so shocked at the quality of the comments. On your real estalker site, there were certain standards and personalities. There was a troll at the end, but – what is with the hate and anger? People, this is about real estate….Bring out the wooden spoon, Mama.

  11. pettacom says:

    Is the illiterate first sentence supposed to be in some way edgy? Or simply the mentality of a reporter who hypes the story while decrying reporters who hype the story? Yes, unless he plans to waive the two-term limit rule, ex-President Obama will buy property somewhere. Or 7 properties, if he plans to keep up with Bill and Hill. And it’s a good bet it will be somewhere nice and probably somewhere where he can golf a lot. Stop the presses for this groundbreaking disclosure. Even for fluff news, there’s fluff, and then there’s lint.

  12. I think whatever one’s political proclivities are, fewer people are concerned with Obama’s post-White-House real estate than are concerned with what he’ll do with the remainder of his tenure in the actual White House.

  13. Dorthy, anyone who wants to make a profit and doesn’t care about the feelings of the neighborhood or anyone else for that matter.

  14. John Goode says:

    Wait until the Colorado river waters dry up, and whats left are scheduled elsewhere. Terrible problem with termites there in Thunderbird estates and Palm Springs, the houses have to be sprayed so heavily the cancer rates are triple there, as is the liver failure.

  15. lil' gay boy says:

    Seriously doubt the Obamas will wind up here; however, I do like the way the estate is laid out, with the garage in the middle & the vertical separation of the structures for views & privacy. I lust after the guest house more than the main. The curved balcony relieves some of the angular lines.

    The geometry is sometimes a little too vigorous, and the late 80s/early 90s lighting fixtures & decor need updating, but the bones are good.

    NOTE TO WEBMASTER: Dude/Dudette, seriously — the act needs to be cleaned up. Even on a 27″ monitor, the site jumps around so much, and reloads oddly — making it almost un-navigable. Not to mention it is completely useless on an iPad/iPhone, and your mobile app does not link to Dirt at all. I get landing page & click-thru counts, but really?!? Time you learned Mama’s chillruns are a whinny lot, and are not above sneaking into the kitchen drawer to swipe the wooden spoon when we get irate…

    Just sayin’.

    • Sandpiper says:

      Hi LGB, ditto on your navigation footnote. What I also don’t understand is why there’s more than one post on any given property. Beyond redundancy, each post accumulates its own autonomous comment counts. Comments (talk) do not aggregate (sync together). Wooden spoon is right. Or — frying pan!

    • Chuck Raney says:

      You don’t have to go BACK to view other properties, they are on this page, below. It’s like the Comments LOAD in middle of Page, not onto New Page.

  16. David says:

    Waste off skin no matter where he ends up.

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