February 7, 2023
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Clark mansion’s future hinges on IRS resolving owed taxes


Alex Kacik

Alex Kacik


Hugette Clark’s generosity cost her.

Clark was the daughter of the copper mogul William Andrews Clark, who earned his fortune through mining, railroads and banking. The heiress died in 2011 at 104 years old.

Clark gave millions of her inherited wealth to her friends but she gave so much so fast that her attorneys couldn’t keep up with the gift and capital gains taxes. About $60 million is still owed in penalties and interest and the IRS is holding onto her Santa Barbara mansion as collateral, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman, the author of “Empty Mansions” that chronicles the Clark family.

“The negotiations with the IRS seem to be headed in a favorable direction,” Dedman told about 50 people at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum on Oct. 27. “There seems to be some hope of relief from some of the penalties, if not the interest.” The fees have been accruing at $9,000 per day since her death, he added.

The heiress donated the sprawling 22,000-square-foot French-inspired villa that sits on 24 acres overlooking Santa Barbara’s East Beach and the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge to the Bellosguardo Foundation. The nonprofit was formed to promote the arts and its board hopes to open the estate to the public as a museum and showplace of sorts.

The worst-case scenario is the foundation gets the house and a bill for about $18 million and it would have to raise money to get even, Dedman said. The best-case scenario is that it would get the house and around $7 million that could be spent on deferred maintenance.

“I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s five or 10 years before we all go visit there,” he said.

The mansion has been maintained for the last 60-plus years as a virtual time capsule. The immaculately kept estate, along with the original classic artwork, vintage cars and other assets it houses, is valued between $85 million and $100 million, Dedman said. Maintenance costs about $40,000 a month, he said.

“The board hasn’t really set firm goals, it doesn’t have firm budgets because it’s waiting to get ownership of the house and doesn’t know what the resources will be,” Dedman said.

Until then, the mansion will remain closed to the public, a distant reminder of an era passed.

Buellton homes break ground

A 155-unit condo/townhouse community recently broke ground in Buellton.

The 9-acre Vineyard Village at the corner of McMurray Road and Highway 246 will include 155 homes ranging from 1,300 square feet to 2,100 square feet. There are eight floor plans that will include two to four bedrooms and two to three-and-a-half bathrooms. Each home will have two-car garages, interior laundry rooms, solar panel technology and air conditioning.

Goleta development OK’d

A 175-unit mixed-use development in Old Town Goleta got the green light from the Goleta City Council.

Ventura-based developer City Ventures has planned for mainly three-story buildings of 113 townhomes, 34 live-work units and 28 shopkeeper units. There were will be 14 affordable units on site ranging from $400,000 to $600,000. City Ventures plans to build a 1,600-square-foot community center as well as pedestrian and bike paths.

The city plans to lengthen Ekwill Street and City Ventures agreed to give 2.5 acres to Goleta valued at $2.7 million.

Old Town Village is planned for 12.3 acres of undeveloped urban farmland west of South Kellogg Avenue and Kellogg Way.

SB restaurant shuffle

Caffe Primo recently opened at 516 State St., the former home of the Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro in downtown Santa Barbara.

Caffé Primo offers Italian-American fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Southern California-based restaurant chain started in West Hollywood.

Gandolfo’s New York Deli is opening soon at 718 State St., the old Killer B’s BBQ & Bar location.

Sojourner at 134 E. Canon Perdido St. and Arch Rock Fish at 608 Anacapa St. have recently closed.

• Contact Alex Kacik at akacik@pacbiztimes.com.