House flipping Hollywood icon Diane Keaton, currently appearing on the silver screen in the star-studded comedy “Book Club,” which Variety’s own Dennis Harvey described as a “comfort-food movie that’s been pre-masticated by committee to the consistency of pudding (with even less flavor),” set her well-honed real estate sights on downtown Tucson, Ariz., with the $1.5 million purchase of a restored 1890s Sonoran row house in the historic, gritty and rapidly gentrifying Barrio Viejo neighborhood just south of the desert city’s downtown core. The limestone-sheathed adobe structure, which arguably resembles a commercial building or even a motel more than a traditional private residence, dates to the 1890s and is finished with fresh white stucco on the exterior. Exposed adobe and mud-plastered interior walls honor the region’s architectural roots and anchors the residence to Tucson’s history which, being just 60 miles north of the border, is inextricably intertwined with Mexico. Digital marketing materials from listing broker Habitation Realty show there are four bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. However, floor plans for the T-shaped structure indicate the main residence is configured with two and potentially more bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. There are additionally two two-room office suites convertible to guest quarters plus an already self-contained one-bedroom and one-bathroom apartment.
The 4,572-square-foot building was in an uninhabitable state of neglect when the sellers, writer Kathe Lison — she wrote a book on French cheese — and her writer/poet husband Chris Cokinos, purchased the property in 2014 for $330,000. Lison kept an exhaustive blog of the extensive, two-year renovation process and post-renovation made the one-bedroom guesthouse available as a short-term rental through Airbnb. The revitalized property was granted an award for historic preservation by the Pima County Historical Commission as well as a Governor’s Heritage Honor Award from Arizona Preservation Foundation and the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office.
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Arranged around a slender central entrance hall with herringbone-pattern antique brick floor, the main residence includes: a combination living/dining room with dark hardwood floors and an exposed beam ceiling; a separate eat in kitchen with huge, shelf-lined walk-in pantry; and a library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. In addition to a guest bedroom with nearby hall bathroom, the main house offers a spacious master suite with a bedroom plenty large enough to comfortably accommodate a sitting area plus a combination closet/dressing/laundry room and a large bathroom with stylish, sixties inspired black and white floor tiles, a claw-footed bathtub and an open shower space with lime plaster surround. Both of the two-room office suites have outside entrances — one has a fireplace — and the attached but completely separate four-room guesthouse contains a living room with corner fireplace, a separate eat-in kitchen, a cozy bedroom and an unexpectedly over-sized bathroom with black and white Moroccan floor tiles and an open shower space with lime plaster surround similar to the one in the master bathroom plus a large linen/laundry closet.
The residence’s T-shape allows for the corner property to have three separate courtyard-style yard spaces plus an off-street parking area hemmed in by a rusty patchwork of corrugated metal fencing and partially shaded by mature salt cedar trees.
The architecture and design savvy Los Angeles based Oscar and Golden Globe winner does not plan to occupy the property full time — or perhaps at all — and, as was noted in the Arizona Daily Star, revealed on a recent appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” that she plans “redo” the house and “fix the adobe” before she sells it on.
Keaton, a property gossip column veteran who has bought and sold scads of multi-million dollar homes in some of L.A.’s choicest zip codes, has a long history of selling homes that wind up in the hands of other entertainment industry movers and shakers. In 1996, after owning it about eight years, she sold the magnificently kooky, Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr.-designed Samuel Novarro house in Los Feliz for an unrecorded amount — it was later owned by Christina Ricci and it’s currently owned by Dale Launer who has it for sale at $4.295 million; In 2000 she sold a Beverly Hills mansion to Madonna for $6.45 million; And in 2010 she sold a Ralph Flewelling-designed Spanish Colonial along one of the more sought after blocks in the flats of Beverly Hills for $10 million to its current owner, Ryan Murphy, who continues to live there while he completes a total overhaul of a sprawling residence in the leafy Sullivan Canyon area of Brentwood he picked up in 2013 for $9 million.
About 2.5 years ago the “Annie Hall” star sold a large, luxurious and stylishly decorated if otherwise fairly ordinary mini-mansion of about 7,800-square-feet in Pacific Palisades for $6.9 million — she bought it about 3.5 years earlier for $5.6 million — and moved to the minimalist-minded modern farmhouse-style compound in the rustic-luxe Mandeville Canyon area she custom built on a .65-acre parcel area she bought in 2011 for $4.7 million. Tax records show the vintage brick-faced residence, which has no windows on its substantial street-facing façade, measures more than 9,200-square-feet with four bedrooms and seven bathrooms.
photos: William Lesch