Most people who live in or visit La Jolla don’t drive through the Muirlands to get anywhere — unless, of course, you’re a resident. One of La Jolla’s largest neighborhoods, Muirlands is also among the most sought after for this very reason.
Muirlands is an area in La Jolla just south of Nautilus Street bordered by La Jolla Scenic Drive to the east and Aranda Avenue to the west.
Contrary to what would seem the most obvious reason for the name “Muirlands,” it was not named after the Scottish naturalist John Muir. Rather, in the 1920s, unrelated Harold James Muir purchased 257 acres of a barren, inaccessible mountainside with plans to build an exclusive subdivision. His first home was one he built for himself with famed architect Edgar Ullrich. The grand estate at 1205 Muirlands Drive was first called the “Versailles of La Jolla.” Remodeled in 2009, it is now known as the “Harold and Charlotte Muir House” and is listed on the registry of historic sites.
About a third of a mile east of Muir’s historic home is the highest-priced property currently for sale in this area at 1443 Muirlands Drive. Ian Arnett with The Harwood Group/Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage has the $6.4 million listing on the five-bedroom, eight-bath, 7,089-square-foot home.
Arnett, who grew up in San Diego, said the house is a landmark in the Muirlands. “A lot of people pass by it and know it because it’s so beautiful.”
Arnett said the current owners purchased a “tear down” and started from scratch to build the home to their specifications. The owners worked with La Jolla-based Island Architects and Rancho Santa Fe-based Tamara O’Horgan Interior Design to achieve their dreams. The home was completed in 2003.
“My clients traveled extensively around the world and got tiles from France for the pavers and the two-story wine cellar, the lighting was brought in from Europe,” Arnett said. “There are so many beautiful details in the house.”
He said the property is gated and is on just over a third of an acre so kids can play and no one can walk up to the front door.
Arnett, who has been with the Harwood Group going on 15 years, said all of the schools from elementary through high school are just down the hill, as is the beach and the village with all the great restaurants. Not to mention “the most beautiful coastline in all of San Diego,” he said.
Drew Nelson, a Realtor with Willis Allen Real Estate, said the Muirlands is comprised of several subdivisions, including Muirlands Village, Muirlands West and Upper or Old Muirlands. Nelson, who grew up in La Jolla, had the two highest-priced listings to close escrow during the past 12 months in the Muirlands.
“Both of the homes are right in heart of Old Muirlands,” Nelson said. “It’s one of the most coveted areas of La Jolla because of the large estates on big pieces of property with bigger views.”
The highest priced is at 1548 El Camino Del Teatro which sold for $6 million. Nelson also represented the buyer in the transaction. It’s a charming ivy-covered, seven-bedroom, seven-bath, 8,930-square-foot home built in 1999.
“The owners went well out of their way to make it be a real replica of an Italian villa,” Nelson said, “all the way down to some of the reclaimed wood on the exterior and interior doors and painted it in such a way to look like a villa they toured while on their honeymoon years ago.”
Nelson said San Diego-based Rusty Johnson Construction was the contractor on the renovation.
The next highest-priced home sold by Nelson in the past 12 months is at 6305 El Camino Del Teatro. It sold for $5 million and Janna Hernholm of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty was the buyer’s agent on the transaction.
The home sold in seven weeks from the listing date to close of escrow. Not only did it sell right away, it sold for slightly above asking, which is rare for homes in this price range, Nelson said.
“The sellers wanted to price it correctly in order to move it with relative quickness,” Nelson said. “And I think this sale is proof that even at a high price point, a properly priced home will sell for relatively close to asking, if not at asking, relatively quickly.”
Nelson said pricing is not a science, but when it’s pegged correctly, it will sell.
“What I see is the people who are moving to La Jolla are in large part families that are relocating here maybe because of a job,” Nelson said. “So they seem to be attracted to Muirlands where they can build homes that can accommodate families with enough bedrooms for the kids or maybe some help, and yards where they can entertain and let the kids play.”
Harold Muir’s vision for the subdivision has stood the test of time. According to documents on La Jolla’s history, his vision for the area was for large lots with plenty of room for gardens and families and in particular, to take advantage of the views of “the eternal blue of the sea, both changeless and changeable.”
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