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2.2 million home could be yours for $150 if your lucky


Within walking distance of Studio City's quaint Tujunga Village, a two-story Mediterranean villa rises above its neighbors' roofs.
It could be yours for $150 and some luck.

The 4,500-square-foot home in this enclave of '50s-era construction — or $1.5 million cash payout — is the grand prize in the second annual Special Olympics Southern California Dream House Raffle. All morning, camera crews have been pouring through the five-bedroom, six-bath successor to the modest mid-century model that once stood on this corner lot.

The former house "was standard like any house built at that time," recalls the builder Albert Peretz, whose Calabasas Hills-based Giant First Construction specializes in these so-called teardowns across Southern California, where he says the trend is gaining traction in spite of a tough economy.

He adds, "We're averaging four or five teardowns a year."

The one that seems to be drumming up interest for Peretz right now is the "Dream House," which he designed and built in 2006. At that time many homeowners were looking to cash out their properties.

"Nobody knew which way the market was going to go," he says. "So we had the chance to buy a lot of properties in some of these neighborhoods where the houses were built 50, 60, 70 years ago and had not been updated."

Peretz has built other mansions for entertainers in the neighborhood. He says the permit process and inspection procedures vary from city to city.

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In Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety requires that a builder apply for permission to demolish and rebuild, which he did before getting to work on the luxury home that he sold to the anonymous donor now offering it to the Special Olympics Southern California.
Special Olympics Southern California is an offshoot of the international group founded by the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver in her backyard in 1966. It represents athletes from 11 Southern California counties, from San Diego to San Luis Obispo.

The "Dream House" — characterized by tray ceilings, dark alder wood flooring and wood-framed crank-out windows - accommodates the best of 21st-century living.

It features a gourmet kitchen with professional-style stainless steel appliances and a marble-top island, butler's pantry and a breakfast rotunda. A grand spiral staircase leads upstairs to the bedrooms, including the generously sized master with its Giorgio Armani Store-inspired walk-in closet featuring wood-framed glass doors and a room-size spa shower with built-in bench seating.

"If you were going to design a dream home and have absolutely everything in it to possibly pamper yourself, this would be the place," says Bill Shumard, Special Olympics Southern California president and CEO, as he sits under the veranda in the enclosed backyard, which is equipped with an outdoor kitchen and traditional-style swimming pool and spa. "It's absolutely gorgeous."

The organization is counting on the house to sell 34,000 tickets by May 13.

As further enticement there will be monthly drawings for cash prizes ranging from $1,000 to $25,000. Additional prizes such as 2011 Toyota Prius, luxury vacations and more will be awarded during the grand prize drawing on May 28.

This year's house is in a quieter neighborhood than last year's Ventura Boulevard location, which ultimately fell short of selling enough tickets to award the house.

"We sold 26,000 tickets in that neighborhood last year, which, judging by the other house raffles that have been done, was determined to be very successful, and certainly from the charity's standpoint, we were absolutely thrilled with the results as was our grand prize winner," Shumard says.

The winner and organization each received more than $700,000. The house went back to the owner.

Shumard says the organization used its share of the winnings for such things as reinstating the championship Fall Games, which had been on hiatus for several years due to lack of funding.

"Nobody felt better about that than the athletes and their families and the coaches," he says. "It also made sure we didn't have to make any program cuts and that our athletes did not have to suffer any cutbacks or shortages in terms of training and competition opportunities."

Former L.A. Lakers great Jerry West (he's the figure in the NBA logo and about to get a statue outside Staples Center during next week's NBA All-Star Game festivities) is working with the project and has filmed a TV commercial in the house for this year's raffle. Shumard is optimistic that with West, the raffle will do the same if not better than last year.

A few days into the raffle, the organization had sold more than $100,000 in tickets. The same time last year a third of that amount had been sold.

"Our absolute goal is to bring the house into play and let people make the choice between the house and $1.5million in cash," Shumard says. "I think this house is a great selling point. It shows well. It's certainly a lure for somebody who's thinking about buying a ticket.

"I would want to live here."

Special Olympics Southern California Dream House Raffle

What: A $2.2 million home — or $1.5 million cash payout, with additional giveaways held in the lead-up to the grand-prize drawing.
When: Now through May 13. The grand prize drawing is May 28 at a location yet to be announced.
Tickets: $150.
Information: www.socalraffle.com or 800-816-6108.

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