Proposed changes to school lunches aim to reduce sugar and sodium, but flavored milk stays | CNN



CNN
— 

If new US Department of Agriculture school food guidelines stand as proposed, chocolate milk is in, but for the first time ever, at least some added sugars will be out – and sodium levels will be reduced gradually.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack publicly announced the changes on Friday.

“The purpose of this is to improve the health and welfare of our children. And I think everybody who comes to this issue shares that goal and hopefully, collectively, we can make sure it happens,” Vilsack told CNN in an interview Thursday ahead of the announcement.

The federally assisted school meal program provides nutritionally balanced meals at school at low or no-cost.

More than 15.3 million kids every day get breakfast at school in the US and 29.6 million get a school lunch, Vilsack said. The numbers were higher earlier in the pandemic, when meals were offered free to all children regardless of their family’s income, but in June, Congress did not extend the Covid-19 pandemic waivers that had expanded the program.

While school meals are paid for by local and federal funding, the standards for what goes on a kids’ cafeteria tray are set by the USDA. The agency’s job is to make sure any meal served at school is nutritious and falls in line with the US Dietary Guidelines.

Flavored milk with “reasonable limits on added sugars” would be allowed under the proposal. Vilsack said school meal administrators tell the USDA that kids just won’t drink much no-fat skim milk or unflavored milk. “That’s not what they get at home,” Vilsack said. “We want to encourage kids to drink milk because there are there’s tremendous nutritional value in milk.”

However, the proposed standards would limit added sugar in certain high-sugar products like prepackaged muffins, yogurt, and cereal. Eventually, the guidelines would then limit added sugars across the weekly menu.

The standards would reduce sodium limits, but that would happen gradually over several school years.

“The [US Food and Drug Administration] provided some insight and direction by suggesting that it is easier for people to accept and adopt to reduced sodium if you do it over a period of time in small increments,” Vilsack said.

A gradual reduction would also give industry time to reformulate their products, said Dr. Lauren Au, an assistant professor at UC Davis’ Department of Nutrition who studies the effectiveness of school nutrition programs.

The guidelines would also place a bigger emphasis on whole grains, but still leave options open for an occasional non-whole grain product.

“Maybe a biscuit can be instituted for a little variety, or grits can be provided where that may make sense from a geographic standpoint. You are sensitive to cultural demands and needs,” Vilsack said.

The proposed rule would also strengthen the Buy American requirements encouraging schools to use more locally grown food.

The USDA will invest $100 million in the Healthy Meals Incentives initiative which offers farm-to-school grants and grants to buy equipment. In the 1980s, schools around the country tore out kitchens and bought prepackaged processed food. To make more nutritious meals, schools have had to rebuild or update kitchens.

“A lot of schools have outdated ovens, freezers, fridges, and that puts limitations on how they can prepare food, so grants that have helped with equipment have been really successful,” Au said.

The money would also reward schools that do a good job providing nutritious meals. Grants would also be aimed at small and rural districts and training.

Vilsack said the USDA created these proposed standards after the USDA received thousands of comments and held 50 listening sessions with parents, school food administrators, the food industry, public health and nutrition experts.

“Establishing these standards are difficult because you have to follow the science you have to follow the dietary guidelines, but you also have to understand that they need to be implemented in the real world which is which is which is tough,” Vilsack said in an interview with CNN.

Real world circumstances are tough already with the higher cost of food, staff shortages and supply chain problems.

Au hasn’t seen all of the proposed policies, but she said what she has seen look good.

“It’s a step forward in terms of promoting healthy nutrition in schools,” Au said. The reduction of added sugar, she added is a big deal.

“Reducing added sugars for this age range is so important,” AU said.

Megan Lott, deputy director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program Healthy Eating Research, said that the policies seem to be heading in the right direction.

“There are a couple of things we would probably like to see strengthened, but it also seems like there are plans to do that over time,” Lott said.

The sugar standard is a good start, she said, but she’d prefer the proposal instead say that no more than 10% of calories should come from added sugars across the meal plan.

“But we recognize that schools might need a little bit of time for implementation,” Lott said.

Lott had also hoped they would take flavored milk off the menu. Research shows that schools that have gotten rid of flavored milk show a drop in milk consumption for a year or two, but milk sales eventually rebound.

School food has become a proverbial hot potato.

After decades of bipartisan support for school meals, the program has been politicized in about the last 10 years Lott says, meaning there is bound to be some pushback.

Friday’s proposed changes would be the first large scale reform of school meal standards since President Barack Obama signed the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law.

The law that went into effect in 2012, championed by first lady Michelle Obama, really did improve US kids’ diet, studies show. The law raised the minimum standards and required schools to serve more whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and fat-free and/or low-fat milk more frequently and serve fewer starchy vegetables and foods high in trans fat and sodium.

Meals that were eaten by students – not just served to students and then tossed into garbage cans – were much healthier and had better overall nutritional quality, the study showed. Students who didn’t participate in the national program did not see an improvement in their diets.

Despite the program’s success, in 2018, the Trump administration announced a proposal to roll back many of the policies in the name of “flexibility,” including ones that involved sodium and whole grains. Trump’s policy would essentially create a loophole letting schools sell more burgers, pizza and french fries and reduce the fruit and vegetables sold. A federal court struck down the rule in April 2020.

During the pandemic, some of the polices were relaxed, like for whole grains, because it was difficult to find products, Lott said.

Studies show kids who eat meals at school ate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy, compared with those who ate at school less frequently.

Better nutrition can help prevent obesity. About 20% of the US population ages 2 to 19 live with obesity, which can cause kids to have high blood pressure, breathing problems and type 2 diabetes, and lead to lifelong health problems, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hungry kids have a hard time paying attention in class. Students who ate healthy meals at school scored better on end-of-year academic tests, studies have shown.

The new standards are just a proposal. The USDA will ask for additional feedback.

Vilsack is hopeful the standards will incentivize more schools to offer more healthy options.

“In terms of future of this program,” Vilsack said, “we want to see more and more school districts push themselves not only to meet the standards, but in some cases to exceed them.”

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Tracking the opioid crisis: Inside the DEA’s secret lab | CNN

Watch CNN Films’ “American Pain” at 9 p.m. ET Sunday, February 5.



CNN
— 

Sitting among the warehouses of Dulles, Virginia, is one of the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s forensic labs. It’s one of eight across the country where scientists analyze illegal drugs and try to stay ahead of what’s driving deadly overdoses.

Starting in the late 1990s with overprescribing of prescription narcotics, the opioid epidemic has continued to plague the United States for decades. What has changed is the type of drugs that have killed more than half a million people during the past 20 years.

CNN was granted rare access to the secret lab where the DEA tests seized illicit drugs to understand what’s coming next.

“The market is constantly changing, so we are trying to do everything we can from a science base to keep up with that,” Scott Oulton, deputy assistant administrator of the DEA’s Office of Forensic Sciences, told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Holding a white bag of fentanyl precursor powder – one of the chemicals used to make the opioid – Oulton explained that the illicitly made painkiller continues to be a dominant presence in the drugs officials are finding.

“This kilogram can be converted into fentanyl to make approximately 800 grams,” he said. “So it doesn’t take that much material, it’s fairly cheap, it’s inexpensive to obtain.”

Fentanyl is the deadliest drug in the United States, and it’s often found in combination with other illicit drugs, including cocaine and heroin. But increasingly, fentanyl is showing up in illicit pills disguised as common prescription drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, even Adderall.

Users buying drugs on the street that look like prescription pills may end up with a highly potent, potentially deadly drug they never intended to take.

“Over 99% of what we see are fake. They contain fentanyl,” Oulton says of the pills that the agency is seizing.

The 800 grams of fentanyl that Oulton held could be turned into 400,000 to 500,000 potentially lethal pills.

As more and more of these lethal pills circulate, the opioid epidemic is reaching more of the population.

Deena Loudon of Olney, Maryland, is among those living with its effects.

“I truly love sharing Matthew with the world,” Loudon says as she flips through pictures of her son.

One of her favorite memories is Matthew playing hockey – what Loudon calls his happy place.

Matthew Loudon's mom says he turned to drugs after struggling with anxiety.

But she also recalls his struggles with anxiety, which led him to turn to drugs. He started dabbling in them in the 10th grade. By the following year, his grades began to fall, and he couldn’t keep them high enough to stay in hockey.

“He was using Xanax to help self-medicate himself and I think to help get rid of some of that angst so he could live somewhat of a normal life,” Loudon said.

Matthew was always honest, almost to a fault, Loudon says. “He told me he tried everything. Like everything. Heroin, meth, crack, you name it, cocaine, whatever – until I guess he found what made him feel the best, and it was Xanax.”

And as much as a mother can worry, Loudon says, Matthew always tried to reassure her. “I know what I’m doing,” he would tell her.

She had heard about fentanyl showing up in pills in their area.

“But you don’t ever think it’s going to happen to you,” Loudon said.

She said they even had a conversation about fentanyl the day before he died. “I was sort of naive, wanting to stick my head in the sand and thinking ‘I bet he does know what he’s doing.’ ”

On November 3, 2020, she found 21-year-old Matthew on the floor of their basement.

Matthew’s autopsy report lists his cause of death as fentanyl and despropionyl fentanyl intoxication.

“I don’t say he overdosed. I say he died from fentanyl poisoning. … Truthfully, like, at the end of the day, to me, he was murdered, right? Because he asked for one thing. They gave him something different. And it took his life.”

For a parent, she said, the hardest thing is burying their child. It’s a pain she speaks out about in hopes of keeping other families safe.

“It’s Russian roulette,” she warns them. “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

The number of pills the DEA has seized skyrocketed in just three years, from 2.2 million in 2019 to 50.6 million in 2022.

The sheer volume of pills has been one of the biggest challenges for the DEA’s lab, Oulton says. As the fentanyl threat continues to grow, the Virginia facility is expanding to accommodate the analysis needed.

The lab can test for something as simple as the presence of fentanyl, but something called the purity of the pill also offers important insight. This means how much fentanyl is actually in one of these illicit pills.

“Lately, we’ve been seeing a purity increase over the last year, where we used to say roughly four out of the 10 seizures that we were receiving would contain a lethal dose of greater than 2 milligrams. As of October last year, we started reporting that we’ve seen an uptick. Now we’re saying that six out of 10 of the seizures that we’re receiving contain over 2 milligrams,” Oulton said.

He says they’re finding an average of 2.3 milligrams of fentanyl in each pill.

Two milligrams may be the cutoff for what is considered lethal, but Oulton says that doesn’t necessarily mean a pill with 1.99 milligrams of fentanyl can’t be deadly.

“One pill can kill” is his warning.

“The message I would like to send out is, don’t take it,” he said. “Don’t take the chance. It’s not worth your life.”

Oulton says he and his team are constantly finding new and different drugs and substances in pills – things they’ve never seen before.

One machine in the lab is almost the equivalent of an MRI in a medical office, showing the structure and detail of a pill.

“We will do what we call structural elucidation to determine that this is a different version of a fentanyl that’s got a new compound and molecule that’s been added to it,” Oulton said.

They’ve seen “hundreds and hundreds of unique combinations,” he said.

“We’ll see one that contains fentanyl, one with fentanyl and xylazine, one with fentanyl and caffeine, one with fentanyl and acetaminophen, and you don’t know what you’re getting.”

Xylazine, a veterinary tranquilizer, poses a unique problem. It’s not an opioid, so even when it’s mixed with fentanyl, drugs designed to reverse an opioid overdose may not work.

Narcan or naloxone, one of the more common overdose-reversing drugs, has become increasingly necessary as the prevalence and potency of illicit drugs increases. About 1.2 million doses of naloxone were dispensed by retail pharmacies in 2021, according to data published by the American Medical Association – nearly nine times more than were dispensed five years earlier.

Oulton wants to be clear: The problem Isn’t with pills prescribed by your doctor and dispensed by a pharmacy – it’s the pills on the illicit market.

Those, Matthew’s mother warns, are easy to get.

“The first pills [Matthew] got was in high school. And it was just flipping out, floating around, and it was easy for him to get his hands on,” she said.

Loudon’s message for parents now: Keep your eyes open.

“Just be mindful of what your children are doing. You just just have to keep your eyes open. And even sometimes, when you keep your eyes open, you can miss some of the warning signs, but I think a parent knows their child best, so just keep talking.”

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Children’s mental health tops list of parent worries, survey finds | CNN



CNN
— 

Forty percent of US parents are “extremely” or “very” worried that their children will struggle with anxiety or depression at some point, a new survey finds.

The Pew Research Center report said mental health was the greatest concern among parents, followed by bullying, which worries 35% of parents. These concerns trumped fears of kidnapping, dangers of drugs and alcohol, teen pregnancy and getting into trouble with the police.

Concerns varied by race, ethnicity and income level, with roughly 4 in 10 Latino and low-income parents and 3 in 10 Black parents saying they are extremely or very worried that their children could be shot, compared with about 1 in 10 high-income or White parents.

Nearly two-thirds of the respondents said that being a parent has been at least somewhat harder than they expected, about 41% say that being a parent is tiring, and 29% say it is stressful all or most of the time.

The report captured the perceptions of a nationally representative sample of 3,757 US parents whose children were younger than 18 in 2022.

Experts say mental health issues among children and adolescents have skyrocketed in recent years.

“I would say over the last 10 years, since I’ve been practicing as a general pediatrician, I have seen a shift both in the amount of patients and of all ages dealing with anxiety and depression. And their parents being concerned about this is a key issue,” said Dr. Katherine Williamson, a pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Even before the pandemic, we were seeing skyrocketing numbers of kids and adolescents dealing with mental health issues, and that has increased exponentially since the pandemic.”

Suicide became the second leading cause of death among children 10 to 14 during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mental health-related emergency room visits among adolescents 5 to 11 and 12 to 17 also jumped 24% and 31%, respectively.

Many parents feel helpless when their children have mental health issues because they don’t feel equipped to offer support in this area.

“They are unable to relieve [mental health issues] and address that as they could if they were struggling with their grades or other things that seem more traditional to for kids to struggle with,” said Allen Sabey, a family therapist at the Family Institute at Northwestern University.

Parents trying to “work out and look at and connect with their own feelings will give them important information about what feels off or OK for their kid,” he said.

When it comes to anxiety and depression in children, pediatricians say, parents can watch for signs like decreased interest or pleasure in things they previously enjoyed, poor self-esteem and changes in mood, appetite or sleep.

Experts also say parents should consider the amount and content of social media their child consumes, as research has found that it can have negative effects on their mental health.

But, they say, having more parents recognize the importance of mental health in children is a step in the right direction.

“I have always felt there’s been so much resistance to seeking care for mental health among the population that I serve. And I am actually happy that since the Covid pandemic, at least people now are recognizing this as a very key and important health need,” said Dr. Maggi Smeal, a pediatrician at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health.

Smeal hopes that “all people that are interacting with children can be aware of these issues and feel empowered to identify and advocate for these children, to tell them to go to their primary care provider and have an assessment just like you do if your kid has a cough or a fever or ear infection.”

The number of parents concerned about gun violence reflects the fact that guns are the leading cause of death among children in the US, research has showed. From 2019 to 2020, the rate of firearm-related deaths increased 29.5% – more than twice the increase as in the general population.

“Gun violence is a real risk to our kids today. And that is both being killed by somebody else as well as suicide in the face of the mental health issues that we’re seeing today,” Williamson said.

The survey found that Black, Hispanic and lower-income parents were most likely to be concerned about gun violence, a finding that’s consistent with the communities most affected. Research has shown that from 2018 to 2021, the rate of firearm-related deaths doubled among Black youth and increased 50% among Hispanic youth. Another study found that children living in low-income areas are at higher risk of firearm-related death.

Direct and indirect exposure to gun violence can contribute to mental health problems.

“Even if they hear gunshots in their community, they hear adults talking, there’s all different ways that children are traumatized and victimized by gun violence. And what we see is all the symptoms of anxiety in even the youngest of children. We see children with somatic complaints – stomachaches, headaches. They have post-traumatic stress disorder,” Smeal said.

Most of the parents in the survey said parenting is harder than they expected, and that they feel judgment from various sources.

“The findings of this of this report were, as a pediatrician and a parent, just exactly what you would expect. Parenting is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, and there are very high levels of stress and fatigue, especially in the parents of young children,” Smeal said.

One of the best things parents can do is lean on fellow parents, experts say.

“The main challenge for parents is our siloed independent nature sometimes, and so we want to find people who we trust and kind of work towards being more vulnerable and open with,” Sabey said. “To where it’s like not just you and your kid, but it’s a kind of a group of people caring and working together.”

Pediatricians emphasize that no parent is perfect and that the most important thing you can do is to just be there for your child.

“We know that the best chance for a child to be successful and happy is for them to have at least one person in their life who believes in them and advocates for them. So I think it’s important for parents to know that there’s no such thing as a perfect parent, because we are all human, and humans are imperfect by nature, but that is OK,” Williamson said.

A parent’s job is to “really make sure that they know how important they are and they have a voice in this world,” she said. “Every child will have their own unique struggles, whether it is academically, emotionally, physically. Our job is to help them with the areas [where] they struggle, but even more, help them recognize their strengths.”

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‘My stepmother has been less than ethical’: I suspect my stepmom removed me as beneficiary from my late father’s life-insurance policy. What can I do?

My dad passed away in March 2019. My stepmom told me I had an inheritance from my dad.  She ceased communication with me after my dad passed away. I reached out to the Department of Financial Services website for lost life-insurance policies, and received a letter saying my dad was a participant, but had named someone other than me as a beneficiary.

My stepmother has been less than ethical at times. She previously stole money from her sister’s bank account while working for the financial institution that she now runs. Her sister did not press charges, so the matter was dropped by my dad, with whom she was having an affair. Is it possible that she changed the beneficiary, and could have forged anything on behalf of my dad?

My family also suspects she tried to cash another life-insurance policy for which I was a 51% beneficiary. She sent me a check after my dad passed saying it was a “gift,” and called me nearly two years later saying a policy had just been “found” with me as 51% beneficiary. I suspect she was the 49% beneficiary. To make matters worse, that policy was through her place of business.

Suspicious Daughter

Dear Suspicious,

Anything is possible. It sounds like you are dealing with an unknown quantity, and she should not be trusted with other people’s money. Your stepmother does not, from your account, appear to be on the up-and-up, given that she reportedly stole money from her sister’s bank account. It may be that she could not bring herself to cash a policy with you receiving 49% — hence the delay —  but given the division outlined in the policy it seems unlikely that she could have kept the entire policy for herself. An executor has a responsibility to deal with an estate in a timely manner.

It’s not unheard of for people to question an amendment that was made to a trust, insurance policy or last will and testament. Priscilla Presley, the ex-wife of Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll” who died in 1977, filed legal documents in Los Angeles Superior Court last week, disputing the validity of an amendment to a living trust overseeing the estate of her late daughter Lisa Marie Presley, who died earlier this month. The 2016 amendment removed Priscilla Presley and a former business manager as trustees, the Associated Press reported.

Among the issues cited in the legal filing: Priscilla Presley was allegedly not notified of the change as required, an absence of a witness or notarization, Priscilla Presley’s name was misspelled in a document that was allegedly signed by her late daughter, and Lisa Marie Presley’s own signature was described as atypical, the news agency also reported. Aside from questions swirling over the authenticity of an amendment, changes to wills, trusts and — in your case — insurance policies must always meet certain legal standards.

It’s not unheard of for people to question an amendment that was made to a trust, insurance policy or last will and testament.

“Last-minute changes in beneficiaries can be a red flag for life-insurance companies,” according to LifeInsuranceAttorney.com. “Usually, the person insured by a life-insurance policy can change their beneficiaries whenever they want, so long as the change complies with any specific requirements in the life-insurance policy. However, when the insured person is elderly, severely ill or lacking mental capacity, and the change in beneficiary happens shortly before the insured person passes away, they may have been unduly influenced by others.”

“For example, a caretaker or estranged family member may convince or influence the vulnerable insured person to add them as a beneficiary on the insured person’s life-insurance policy or to remove other beneficiaries,” the firm says. What’s more, “Life-insurance companies may also deny claims if the beneficiary made a change in the beneficiary that did not comply with the requirements of the insured person’s life-insurance policy. Some policies may require that the insured person have a certain amount of witnesses present,” it adds.

Depending on the amount of money involved, you may wish to hire an attorney to see if you have a case and/or to put your mind at rest. The statute of limitations — that is, the amount of time you have to challenge the validity of a life-insurance policy — may vary, depending on the circumstances, the state where you live and/or whether new information has come to light. “The statute of limitations, in most cases, lasts for three years. But not always,” according to the Center for Life Insurance Disputes, an insurance agency in Washington, D.C.

She stopped talking to you after your father passed away: It could be that she was shoring up what was left of his estate, and figuring out what she could take for herself. Or it may be that you did not get along, and a breakdown of communication was inevitable. Or both. Were there any changes made to your father’s policy that would raise a red flag? That much is unclear. Your stepmother may have learned her lesson when she was not prosecuted by her sister for alleged financial malfeasance.

And, then again, maybe not.

Yocan email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at [email protected], and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.

More from Quentin Fottrell:

My mother excluded me from her will — before she died, my sibling cashed out her annuity policy, on which I was a beneficiary. Should I sue my family?

‘I’m clean and sober’: My late father left me 25% of his estate, and my wealthy brother 75%. My brother died 10 months later. Should I ask his son for his share?

‘It’s still painful’: My wife of just one year left me, took all her belongings and won’t answer her phone. How do I protect my finances?



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Luxury developers in Los Angeles bet someone will pay record prices for these condos

Two developers in California are looking to lure a buyer willing to do something no other buyer has ever done before in Los Angeles history – pay between $50 million and a $100 million for a condo.

A deal anywhere near those asking prices would shatter a record in the City of Angels, where no single condo unit has ever sold for more than $22.5 million, according to public records.

A rendering depicts the penthouse terrace and pool at the Four Seasons Private Residences Los Angeles which is on the market for $75M.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard and CRTKL

A behemoth duplex-apartment located at 9000 West 3rd Street in Beverly Hills comes with a price tag of $75 million.

One LA, as the penthouse is called, hit the market back in July. It spans the top two floors of the Four Seasons Private Residences Los Angeles, part of an ultra-luxe condo project by the Genton Development Company that includes 59 units across 12 stories.

Rendering depicting the finished penthouse atop the Four Seasons Residences Los Angeles.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard and CRTKL

It’s the first stand-alone Four Seasons residence in North America and it sits across the street from its namesake hotel. According to the building’s website, the crown-jewel residence delivers almost 13,000 sq ft of indoor living area and nearly 6,000 sq ft of outdoor space.

Rendering of the primary bedroom at the penthouse known as ONE LA.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard and CRTKL

The penthouse, which appears fully furnished in renderings used to market the unit, is actually being sold “white-box,” meaning a buyer would take possession of unit as an unfinished shell. That means no kitchen, no baths, no millwork, no fixtures. It’s so empty that Billy Rose, co-founder of The Agency RE and co-listing agent on the deal, can be seen with his team in a marketing video riding bikes through the vast raw space.

At the current asking price, the unfinished unit is over $5,700 a sq ft. Rose told CNBC finishing costs vary widely depending on a buyer’s taste, but $8 million is a ballpark estimate. Some buyers, he said, actually prefer the blank canvas delivery so they can customize the residence to their personal taste.

A 19-person IMAX theater is one of the luxe amenities offered at the Four Seasons Private Residences Los Angeles.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard and CRTKL

The building’s amenities include in-residence dining and housekeeping, a private 19-seat IMAX theater with access to first-run films and private screenings, a fitness center designed by nutritionist and celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, a pool with private cabanas, and Four Seasons staff at your beck and call, according to the website.

8899 Beverly Blvd in West Hollywood. It has a $50 million asking price that can be super-sized to $100 million.

The 10-story, 40-unit building, designed by architecture firm Olson Kundig, was developed by Townscape Partners. The top floor is divided into two similarly sized penthouses, one on the east and the other on the west.

According to broker Fredrik Eklund of Douglas Elliman, who reps the development and recently took CNBC on a tour of penthouse east, the four-bedroom, five-bath residence spans about 6,450 sq ft, with 14-foot ceilings. It has motorized glass panel walls that slide away for access to another almost 1,500 sq ft of outdoor space on the wrap-around balcony.

Unlike One LA, unit PHE is being delivered finished. it’s currently staged with furnishings by ASH Staging. They are not included in the $50 million asking price, which comes to over $7,700 a square foot.

The view from 8899 Beverly Blvd’s unit PHE where glass panels walls slide away and open to a wraparound balcony.

ASH Staging

The developer has yet to officially list either of the two top-floor penthouses, but has been testing the market’s appetite for PHE since at least April. That’s when the developer started marketing the unit with a $50 million price-tag in a so-called whisper campaign – a term that usually describes the word-of-mouth marketing used to shop around an off-market residence.

In this case, Townscape Partners and Eklund have been whispering pretty loudly about the deal to the press for months. The team is simultaneously shopping an even pricier off-market deal that pairs both of the top-floor penthouses as a combo with a $100 million ask.

The primary bedroom in Penthouse East at 8899 Beverly Blvd.

ASH Staging

The combination residence would position its owner at the highest vantage point in West Hollywood. As a pair, the penthouses deliver eight bedrooms, 10 baths and four kitchens – each includes a main kitchen and an adjacent staff kitchen.

According to Eklund, the package deal brings the total interior footage to somewhere around 13,000 sq ft with an additional 6,000 sq ft outside. Building amenities include an over 12,000 sq ft outdoor area with pool, fireplaces and dining area. There’s also a fitness area and a yoga studio, and a fine-dining restaurant is coming soon.

Penthouse PHE’s primary bath.

ASH Staging

On the subterranean level there are so-called car stables, a term Eklund uses to describe the building’s luxury garage. The parking area includes moody lighting, herringbone-patterned tile flooring and parking spots tucked behind sliding doors made of wood and steel.

The broker told CNBC a pair of parking spots here cost $750,000, but as part of the penthouse deals the developer would throw in a few spots for free. It would also include a garage-level penthouse-only private lobby with views of the garage, plus seating and elevators that can whisk penthouse guests directly to the top floor.

The so-called auto stables on the garage level at 8899 Beverly Blvd.

DroneHub Media

Matthew Perry reportedly sold his almost 9,300 sq ft condo for $21.6 million, or just over $2,300 a sq ft.

Believe it or not, the same building broke another record in 2010, when legendary TV producer Aaron Spelling’s widow, Candy Spelling, spent a record breaking $34.8 million on two contiguous units, which she later combined. Her mega-deal spanned 15,500 sq ft at a price per sq ft of almost $2,250.

A rendering of the rooftop terrace at ONE LA.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard and CRTKL

At the current asks, a prospective buyer of either One LA or the penthouses at 8899 Beverly Blvd would have to take a gigantic leap from the records established at The Century. While Miller told CNBC real estate markets don’t typically make drastic moves like this, this sort of thing has happened before in LA.

The example he points to is a sliver of the town’s single-family housing inventory known as ultra-luxury spec-mansions. Over the past decade, these homes suddenly achieved sales that broke through the $50 million mark and sustained it. Now the once unimaginable price-level is breached regularly in the high-end spec market.

“It’s a subset of the greater market that doesn’t have a linear or direct connection to what was the luxury market before,” said Miller.

According to Miller, a sudden spike in a housing subcategory like spec homes can happen when developers convince buyers that they’ve created a new real estate product that’s so different from what existed before that it should command a significant premium.

The full-service pool area at the Four Seasons Private Residences Los Angeles.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard and CRTKL

“It’s the beginning of a new dataset,” Miller said.

Rose calls LA’s new super-luxury condo inventory “2.0,” a wave of apartments he describes as more modern, luxurious, and amenity-packed than any condo inventory that came before it. He believes those are some of the reasons the units should command higher prices over the previous wave, which Rose believes includes the record breaking sales at The Century Condo.

So far Rose’s 2.0 theory is supported by a recent sale at the The Pendry Residences, another luxury condo project in West Hollywood, where a 2,700 sq ft unit sold for $13 million and breached $4,800 a sq ft. That is now the highest price per sq ft ever achieved for a condo in LA. This record is more than double the price per sq ft reached in each of those three top sales at The Century Condo.

A seating area on the wraparound balcony of penthouse east at 8899 Beverly Blvd.

ASH Staging

Eklund believes his $100 million whisper listing can and will break a price record in LA. What’s happened already in New York helps. On Central Park, he said, trophy condos have surpassed $10,000 and even $12,000 a sq ft.

“That happens a lot, so is Los Angeles undervalued still?  Long term, maybe,” Eklund said.

Over the last decade, multiple listing service data shows more than 140 units in New York have sold for $35 million, compared to zero at that level in LA. But Miller adds a giant caveat: the two condo markets are very different. While he said The Pendry sale is clearly a sign, this new market would need to deliver a lot more transactions to determine if it’s sustainable.

In other words: developers of One LA and the trophy penthouses at 8899 Beverly are in uncharted territory.

“This is a new market segment,” Miller said. “So we’ll have to see how consumers respond.”

A seating area and fireplace inside 8899 Beverly Blvd’s penthouse east residence.

ASH Staging

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