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Saudi prince's LA mega-mansion to be a little less mega

Image: A television news crew leaves the site of a proposed mega-mansion in the Benedict Canyon area of Beverly Hills, Calif.
Wealthy Los Angeles residents banded together to fight plans for a mega-mansion at this site in the Benedict Canyon area of Beverly Hills. It would have created a compound roughly the size of the famed Hearst Castle.Nick Ut / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A Saudi prince who raised the ire of his wealthy neighbors by proposing to build a mega-mansion in exclusive Los Angeles-area neighborhood is scaling back his plans.

A law firm representing the business that bought the 5.2-acre hillside lot in Benedict Canyon withdrew the application Thursday for a proposed 85,000-square-foot compound that would have included a 42,000-square-foot main residence, villa, guest house, caretaker's house and staff quarters.

"The project is going forward, but it is going forward with some substantial revisions," said lawyer Benjamin Reznik.

Reznik said the firm will resubmit plans that would eliminate the villa and staff quarters — a reduction of about 30,000-square-feet.

Haven for celebrities
Residents of the neighborhood who voiced their objections to the palatial home were pleased with the latest development. They complained that the proposed project — roughly the size of the famed Hearst Castle — was too outsized for the neighborhood of stately mansions.

"This is a huge victory for residents of Los Angeles," neighbor Martha Karsh said in a statement. "This development scheme should never have been allowed to get as far as it did."

Such celebrities as Jay Leno, David Beckham and Bruce Springsteen have homes in the area.

The lot's former owner, movie producer Jon Peters, told the Los Angeles Times last month that Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud — one of the sons of Saudi King Abdullah — bought the three adjacent parcels in 2009.

The prince bought the lot for $12 million, set up a business, Tower Lane Properties, Inc. in London, hired lawyers and contractors and made them sign secrecy agreements.

Reznik, who would not confirm the landowner's identity, said the downsizing eliminates the need for thousands of dirt-hauling trucks to drive through narrow, twisting streets, which had been a major complaint.

"This is an excellent solution and should please many of the surrounding neighbors," he said.

Save Benedict Canyon, a group that wants to see the project go through a strict environmental review, said it will continue to watch future plans for the site closely.