Three years ago, Los Angeles city officials demanded that builders halt work on a colossal mansion in the rarefied hills of Bel-Air.
The massive home being erected on Strada Vecchia Road was bigger and taller than allowed, city prosecutors said. It also included entire areas — bedrooms, decks and a vast IMAX theater — that the city says were never approved.
Neighbors said they feared for their safety, complaining that the hillside above their homes had been dangerously destabilized.
City officials yanked the building permits. Luxury developer Mohamed Hadid was slapped with criminal charges. The case drew international attention with its cocktail of criminal accusations, real estate excess and star power in Hadid, who has appeared on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and whose daughters Gigi and Bella have graced magazine covers.
After more than a year of legal wrangling, Hadid pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charges Tuesday. But neighbors remain anxious about what will ultimately happen to the roughly 30,000-square-foot mega-mansion uphill.
“You still have this horrendous thing hanging over the hillside,” said Joseph Horacek, an entertainment lawyer who repeatedly lodged complaints as the home was under construction, in an April interview at his home. He has nicknamed the unfinished building, which towers over his winding street below, the “Starship Enterprise.”
The question goes to the heart of how L.A. should hold real estate developers accountable. Hadid, who did not appear in court Tuesday, is scheduled for a sentencing hearing next month. City prosecutors want the judge to impose more than a dozen requirements, including hundreds of hours of community service, fines of $1,000 for each of the three charges, and a $250,000 contribution to a community improvement fund.
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