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HOMEPAGE: Forest Pieds-a-Terre : Can Do Condo: The brand new condominiums at Junipero and 5th in Carmel are luxuriously appointed and conveniently located. Jennifer Schrader

One of the first things visitors may notice about the just-completed Forge Condominiums in Carmel is the fragrance. Pine branches drape above the gated courtyard, and combined with cool, sunny air, create a hyper-clean aroma.

That sense of natural freshness is enhanced by subdued shades on plaster walls, a curved wooden entry gate, and wood siding. Green topiaries flanking the entrance pop against the coffee-colored walls, while natural materials—the limestone on the walkway and the copper of the gutters—complete the rich-but-subtle color scheme.

The condos were born out of Carmel’s historic Forge in the Forest restaurant, which started serving food in 1944 around an old forge. (The anvil belonging to blacksmith Francis Whitaker still remains.) While full of character, the layout and condition of the property were not completely workable.

Master builder Al Saroyan took on the challenge of updating the restaurant while it was still in operation, and built three new condominiums. Saroyan took his time. More time than he wanted to.

“The City was very supportive of the project,” he says, “as were the restaurant people. But the logistics were challenging. We couldn’t demo parts of the restaurant to make room for the condos until we had relocated those rooms. Some days we could only work until 11am. It was difficult at best.”

The new design allows for function (now the Forge’s dishwashing area is adjacent to the kitchen, and diners don’t have to walk outside to get to certain eating areas) and beauty, like handsome new rock walls. But the style of the condos is not as rustic as the restaurant.

“We felt that an Old World, somewhat Mediterranean flair for the condos would contrast with the historic building and yet in a way complement it,” Saroyan says.

The single-level units share similar qualities—hickory floors, granite countertops, hidden laundry areas inside knotty alder cabinetry—but are all quite unique.

The second-story “Cypress” unit is the largest, at 1,630 square feet, and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Like the other units, it has two flat-screen televisions, two fireplaces, a steam shower, an oversized tub that bubbles with air jets, a Viking stove, a Sub-Zero fridge, and high end hardware. The custom Dutch door has a “speakeasy”—a small hatch covered by little strips of iron—that takes the place of a peephole.

The Cypress also features many built-ins, high ceilings, frescoes on the walls, niches for hanging art, and a trompe l’oeil window.

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From a small terrace with French doors at the rear of the unit, the aroma of bacon and pancakes wafting over from nearby Katy’s Place restaurant can be enjoyed.

The Banyan unit is also on the second level of the complex, and has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and is 1,322 square feet. The floors are stained a lighter shade than the Cypress, and the kitchen setup is different. The unit is oriented towards Junipero Street, which creates a different mood and provides a different quality of light.

Finally, the Acacia unit, at street level, is 1,180 square feet, and has two bedrooms and two baths. It has different finishes than the other units, like stainless steel sinks in the bathrooms, rather than copper. Like the other units, there are plenty of well-designed built-ins, like a window seat in the master bedroom.

“The materials, finishes and fixtures are all really high-end quality,” Saroyan says. “We didn’t spare anything in terms of quality and cost.”

Price: Cypress unit: $2,295,000; Banyan unit: $1,875,00; Acacia unit: $1,695,000. SW corner of Junipero and 5th, Carmel. Contact Rob Profeta, Alain Pinel, 620-6143.

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