I was lucky enough to be able to be in San Francisco this Christmas, and decided to explore “The Gold Coast” of Pacific Heights, which is on Broadway between Divisadero and Lyon Streets. I had read an interesting article in the October issue of the Vanity Fair magazine about this uber tony block where one must be at least a multi-millionaire, if not a billionaire, AND, it is said, “connected”, in order to live here.
As a realtor, and a lover of luxury real estate AND San Francisco, it was exciting to be able to take a look for myself at these amazing properties, at least the exteriors. Coming from the desert area, where most ultra-luxury homes are hidden behind the private gates with security guards or high, thick hedges, these AMAZING homes were on open display! And I was not the only one taking photos!
Besides this neighborhood having some of the best possible views of the San Francisco Bay, with a fabulous view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, along with the various sea-going vessels that glide around the bay, this neighborhood is adjacent to a section of the Presidio Park and seems pretty private, yet amazingly open! Although this part of the Presidio Park is dissected by a busy street, there is enough of a park for dog-lovers to enjoy with their dogs, should you happen to be in the neighborhood.
And as previously mentioned, one has to have some serious money to buy a property here, whether it’s Old Money or New Money. One of the interesting developments, as documented in the Vanity Fair article, is that there is some tension between the Old Money, as represented by such folks as the Gettys, grand dame Denise Hale, the Trainas, and so on. Particularly Denise Hale is written to not be at all thrilled with the New Money as represented by high tech scions such as part-time desert resident Larry Ellison and let’s just say some “lucky ducks” who cashed in at just the right time in the game of high tech IPOs, such as Michael and Xochi Birch, who sold their social media Bebo.com to AOL for a gazillion dollars just before the “dot bomb” happened and now a few years later, they have bought it back for just a mere $1 million. If you go to their website, you will see it is still basically “under construction”. After watching the “infomercial” for the website, it is easy to see why Denise Hale and the Birches would not seem to have much in common!!
Judging from the map of “The Gold Coast” in the Vanity Fair article, this is most likely the exterior of the Birches’ fabulous Pacific Heights home. The lavish interior features a dramatic all teal blue living room, designed by in-demand 47 year old interior designer Ken Fulk, and is displayed in the Vanity Fair article. Michael Birch is British and is a fan of English pubs, so I guess it is only natural that he actually had the entire interior of one brought in and installed into this house! Apparently he and his wife certainly know how to throw great parties! He hired two Beefeater guards from the Drake Hotel to flank the entryway for one of his parties. How fun!
The house pictured above belongs to Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle and now owner of the desert’s Indian Wells Tennis Gardens where world-class tennis tournaments take place each year. Larry has grand homes around the world, however this one seems a bit modest compared to his neighbors in this neighborhood. And it certainly has a more contemporary, modern edge to it. He paid $3.9 mil for it, and according to the Vanity Fair article, he completely remodeled the house in this modern style that some of his neighbors supposedly disapprove of, since it is so different from the other homes on the street. He also took a neighbor to court in order to get the right to have the tops of their trees trimmed in order to make his view of the bay unobstructed. Another bit of drama is that Nicola Miner, the daughter of the co-founder of Oracle with whom Larry had reportedly clashed with, bought the property directly across from his, and placed a nine-foot robot with a steel gas-pump penis in her front terrace. Some people read some antagonistic meaning into that, however, the Vanity Fair article states that Ms. Miner denies that the robot has anything to do with Mr. Ellison, and that their relationship is “largely harmonious”. Here is a photo of the robot sculpture, which is apparently offensive to some of the neighbors.
I think it is hilarious, personally! One has to really look to notice it in the grand scheme of things, as the following photos shows.
There is a public stairway down to the next street where there were many people jogging up and down burning off calories from haven eaten “too many See’s Candies chocolates” during Christmas season, which is what I overheard from one of the joggers.
A beautiful formal garden halfway down the stairs invites sitting down and taking in the views.
There also happens to be a private residence there. Not such a bad deal to have a fabulous public garden right there for which the upkeep you are not responsible for!
Here is a street shot of the block:
And here is another:
Judging from the map in Vanity Fair, the home below belongs to Trevor Traina, a scion of one of San Francisco’s most established families. I love the green house, where I saw some palm fronds, and wonder if they have some orange trees and an herb garden as well. Certainly a great place for a cup of tea or a glass of wine with some friends! Trevor Traina is credited with bringing his New Money pals who are internet moguls into the neighborhood.
Perhaps my favorite mansion is one that is apparently owned by a highly successful doctor, a wedding-cake classical house, pictured below:
And here is the side view:
All I can say is, that IF I do win a mega millions jackpot, I will most certainly buy a home in this area if possible!