This is Raffi Cohen’s rags-to-riches story: The Israeli immigrant came to Los Angeles without a penny – but believed that real estate development in rough neighborhoods would be a nifty way to make piles of money. He’s now selling a property about as uncommon as the man who lives in it. Cohen, the principal officer of Galaxy Commercial Holding LLC, has listed his Beverly Hills home for $10.9 million.

The high-profile Cohen began his development career with retail centers and apartment buildings, but graduated to large-scale development in downtown Los Angeles. He saw potential in a rundown area along Figueroa Street and built the 660,000-square-foot twin office towers known as Figueroa Plaza. He also built the Vue, a $175 million, 16-story condo project in downtown San Pedro, and Blu, a 37-unit luxury condo complex in Beverly Hills. In 2007, Galaxy was ranked 10th on the Business Journal’s list of the largest residential developers in Los Angeles County.

Cohen was appointed in 1987 to the Downtown Strategic Plan Advisory Committee – also known as the LA 2000 committee – by then-Mayor Tom Bradley. His career hit a well-publicized snag in the mid-1990s when he lost a deal to build an office project next to Los Angeles City Hall after falling behind on rent and property taxes.

The home he has on the market is a one-of-a-kind circular glass and stainless steel creation by Malibu architect Ed Niles. It has “jetliner views,” according to the listing agents, and has 7,500 square feet of living space built around a center courtyard. The home has six bedrooms and seven bathrooms, and is about as minimalist as they come. Sleek lines, limestone floors, and glass, glass, glass.

The listing agents are Linda May, Coldwell Banker, and Drew Fenton, Hilton & Hyland, both Beverly Hills.

Beach Abode

It must be tough to share a name with a famous golfer. Arnold Palmer has listed his Malibu beach home for $7.5 million, and he has probably answered the question “How’s your handicap?” more times than an ancient redwood has rings.

But this Arnold Palmer has worked in the securities industry for almost five decades. He is a senior vice president of the Juda Group division of Sanders Morris Harris in downtown Los Angeles. He began his career with Sutro and Co., helping develop the institutional equity-trading desk. Palmer was chairman of the Oakwood School and the Center for Early Education, and has been a trustee of Pitzer College for 12 years, serving on its investment committee. He and his wife, Patsy, spend weekdays at their Hancock Park home and their son, Dan, works alongside him.

The four-bedroom, 2,400-square-foot primo Broad Beach home on the market has a second-floor master suite with a sitting area and viewing deck. The first level has three additional bedrooms. Ocean views abound.

Amy Alcini and Shirley Sherman, both of Westside Estate Agency, Malibu, share the listing.

Taste Test

Angelenos who lust for authentic Japanese food know to head over to Hirozen Gourmet, which Hiroji Obayashi opened in 1989 after spending two decades as head chef of the historic Imperial Gardens on the Sunset Strip.

Obayashi recently sold the Beverly Boulevard restaurant and is retiring. He has bought a pied-a-terre in Huntington Beach and, with wife Yasuyo, listed their four-bedroom home in Beverly Crest at $1.6 million.

The 2,667-square-foot house was built in 1953. The midcentury modernist home has a pool, a wall of glass that opens to the gardens, and a step-up oversized shower. Set in the Wonderland Park enclave, the single-level home is surrounded by greenery and privacy. There is a spacious living room with a fireplace, a chef’s eat-in kitchen with Bosch stainless steel appliances and Caesarstone countertops, custom cabinetry, and a soaking tub and high ceilings in the master bedroom suite.

Here is what Zagat’s had to say about Hirozen Gourmet in 2006: “Anywhere else is a letdown. … The menu is far more authentic than the competition.” The restaurant has gained wide recognition as one of the city’s best and most-beloved Japanese eateries. Obayashi will continue to serve as a consultant to top hotels and restaurants worldwide.

Jacqueline Tager, Sotheby’s International Realty, Los Feliz, is the listing agent.

Mason’s Residence

Whenever I drive over San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, I cross my fingers and give a little thanks to Charles Kibby, the L.A.-based historic preservationist who was consulted on the project that upgraded the bridge’s seismic stability.

Kibby and his wife, Lauri, have listed their four-bedroom Brentwood home for sale at $1.7 million. The 2,219-square-foot home was built in 1938. The high-ceilinged living room has exposed beams and a wood-paneled wall with fireplace. There are hardwood floors throughout the home.

Charles Kibby has worked in the field of masonry restoration since 1983. He is regarded as an expert in the restoration of masonry materials including terra cotta, brick, stone, precast and cast-in-place concrete, ceramic tile, plaster, and glass and porcelain mosaic. He founded CK Arts, a historical masonry specialty subcontracting firm, and has been a presenter at many restoration symposia. Other projects he consulted on include the main administration building at Notre Dame University, Los Angles City Hall, the Los Angeles County Museum and San Diego’s Cabrillo Bridge.

Vahan Saroians and Rick LeMasters, both of Coldwell Banker’s Los Feliz office, share the listing.

Ann Brenoff can be reached at

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