.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…

…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.

Senior Assistant City Atty. Tina Hess is also pressing for a bond to ensure that if Hadid cannot or will not finish the building legally, the city will have the money to demolish it.

Critics have insisted that the bulk of the structure should be torn down, arguing that if it is allowed to remain it will send a troubling message to wealthy developers willing to break the rules.

Hadid declined to be interviewed last week, instead providing written answers to questions through an attorney. In the past, his legal team has argued Hadid was not the one responsible for getting permits. He has scoffed at the idea of tearing down the mansion, reportedly calling it “insane.”

“Demolish this house? Never!” Hadid was quoted in Town and Country Magazine, adding, “This house will last forever. Bel-Air will fall before this will.”

Simply removing the unapproved areas might not be so simple: City records indicate that many of the unapproved sections sit underneath other parts of the building, including an “entire story … created below basement level.”Source: Celebrity developer pleads no contest to Bel-Air mega-mansion charges. But what happens to the 30,000-square-foot estate? – LA Times

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