March 31, 2016

1298 Sacramento St, Nob Hill Chambord Apartments

The Chambord Today
A taste of Paris at the crest of Nob Hill. The Chambord, a Beaux Arts style apartment building, was designed in 1921 by self-taught architect James Francis Dunn who died before its completion. The elegantly appointed apartments include oval dining rooms and hidden storage. A basement kitchen once provided meals for tenants. The Chambord was used as a location for the classic 1950 film-noir, D.O.A. By 1960 the Chambord had lost all of its exterior detailing in a modernization attempt. In the 1970s the Chambord was slated to be demolished but a huge public effort saved the building by registering it as a San Francisco Historical Landmark as well as listing it in the National Register of Historic Places.

In the early '80s the Chambord was restored. San Francisco Architect Cathy Simon used Dunn's original scheme, and emulated detailing from other Dunn buildings, to produce a Chambord that was as spectacular as the original. The apartments are small but exquisite with oval living rooms, balconies, and fine woodwork. The building has 11 apartments in 11,330 square feet. Last sold for $2,740,000 in 1993.

A stripped Chambord 1975-76

San Francisco Architectural Survey 1975-76

Buildings by Dunn
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*2250 Vallejo St Pacific Heights

*2411 Webster St Pacific Heights

*860 Geary St The Tenderloin

*1347 McAllister Alamo Square

*405 Baker NOPA

*91 Central Ave Ashbury Heights

1100-1104 Fell St, Alamo Square


7,380 square foot 6 unit Victorian residence built in 1904. Sold for $120K in 1977. Last sold for $4.6 million in 2014.

2015-2016 Assessment and Taxes: Assessed at $235,703 Property Taxes $2,767.86*

*Some day the tax assessor might get around to reassessing this property. After all it's only been 2 years since it last sold.

City of San Francisco Architectural Survey (1975)

710 Cole St, Cole Valley

710 Cole St Today (2016)

710 Cole St before (2011)
2,854 square foot 4 bedroom 3.5 bath Edwardian built around 1900. The interiors have been almost completely contemporized with few intact, if any, original details. Broker babble confirms a gut renovation, "Stunning studs out re-design! A master-work of Contemporary styling of a traditional Edwardian. The floor-plan is open with a 'California Great Room' occupying the heart of the house adjacent to an open kitchen creating a warm, inviting gathering space and yet there is an intimate private dining room for those special entertaining occasions. There are French doors to a rear deck overlooking a slate tiled patio and garden".

Sold for $1.35 million in 2012. Last sold for $2.699 million in 2014.

See interior photos HERE

March 30, 2016

1650 Bay St, Marina District $3,880,000 Starter Home


1,875+ square foot 3 bedroom 2 bath Mediterranean style residence built in 1925. Currently listed for $3.88 million. It is impossible to determine the cost per square foot because the exact square footage is anywhere between 1,875 and 3,800. Redfin and the MLS lists the square footage at 3,800. Curbed SF puts the square footage at 2,400 and city records indicate 1,875 square feet.

Let's take a gander at the possibilities
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3,800 sq ft = $1,021 per sq ft
2,400 sq ft = $1,583 per sq ft
1,875 sq ft = $2,026 per sq ft


Property History
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Sold for $1.275 million in 2011 (listed for $1.499 million)
Sold for $2.125 Million in 2013 (listed for $2.250 million)

I kid you not! Sales materials don't come right out and say it, but the verbiage, quite unbelievably, attempts to market this property as a starter home. The listing reads as follows, "Caviar Please! Those looking to break into a single family house with huge upside need to look no further than 1650 Bay. This one of a kind 3 bedroom house and 3 car parking comes with fully approved permits to add another level and roof deck. If you have caviar dreams but a slightly smaller budget, we have the perfect urban remedy. Unable to stretch into the $5+ million housing market? You now can acquire this dream home and start working immediately to have everything you want....There is a private backyard and the home is completely remodeled and done in case your stock-options (or babies) are coming in a couple years. Yes… you can have it all!".

A permit check indicates renovations in 2012 and 2015 as follows: REPLACE CABINETS AND APPLIANCES IN KITCHEN. REMOVING AND REPLACING FIXTURES IN BATHROOM, REPLACING SHOWER AND SHOWER PAN, CHANGING OUT TOILETS. (NO STRUCTURAL WORK). NEW LIGHTING COMPLY WITH CEC 150(K). $30K (2012)

RECONFIGURE INTERIOR SPACE AT GR FLOOR. EXPAND GARAGE INTO LIGHT WELL AND ADD BEDROOM. NEW DECK AT GRD LEVEL. ENLARGE GARAGE DOOR REPLACE WITH NEW WOOD PANEL DOOR. 2ND FL NEW PANTRY AT KITCHEN. COMPLIANCE WITH ORDINANCE #155-13 NOT REQUIRED. EXCAVATION <50 CU.YD. $150K (2015) Plans filed in 2015 for future renovation as follows: ADD NEW STORY TO (E) SINGLE FAMILY RESIDENCE, INCLUDING BEDROOM, BATHROOM, LIVING AREA, + ROOF DECK. N/A FOR MAHER ORDINANCE. Cost estimated to be $526K.

Let's recap. Use you stock options to slide into this nearly $4 million starter home and then spend another $500K+ to renovate the crap out of said starter home. All because you were too poor to "stretch into" the $5+ million housing market.

Enough said.

1650bay.com

Marina Listing Billed as a Starter Luxury Home Asks $3.88 Million (SFGate)

121 San Pablo Ave, St Francis Wood


2,933 square foot 4 bedroom 4 bath colonial revival style home built in 1925. Sweeping blue water views. Sold for $600K in 1989. Last sold for $2.1 million in 2008 ($105K over asking).

Renovations include a horizontal addition in 1990. Interior remodel in 2013 as follows: 1ST FL KITCHEN ADDITION OF 37 SQ FT AND 2ND FL ADDITION OF 162 SQ FT. OTHER WORK INCLUDES CONVERTING UNCONDITIONED BASEMENT TO HABITABLE SPACE OF 443 SQ FT; RENOVATE 1ST FL KITCHEN, BATH, PANTRY AND HALL. 2ND FL RENOVATE OF MASTER SUITE, LAUNDRY AND 2 BEDRM AND BATH.

Current estimates value the property at $2.8 million ($957 per sq ft)

2015-2016 Assessment and Taxes: Currently assessed at $2,290,116 Property Taxes are $26,892.83

Interior photos and listing (2008) HERE

March 29, 2016

2240 Jackson St, Pacific Heights


6,148 square foot Queen Anne Victorian built in 1909. Last sold for $1.8 million in 1996. Previous to that, it sold for $1.25 million in 1993. Current estimates value the property at $7.4 million.

2015-2015 Assessed Value and Taxes: Value $2,439,298 Property Taxes $28,644.68

2240 Jackson St in 1975

Comparing Cost Per Sq Ft: Galesburg IL Versus San Francisco, CA

 North Prairie St, Galesburg IL
A 3,190 square foot restored Queen Anne Victorian in Galesburg IL, built in 1886. Last sold for $68K in 2008. According to the Knox County Assessor's Office the 2015 market value is $80K ($25.08 per sq ft). Compare that to a similar house in San Francisco below.

709 Scott St, Alamo Square is a 3,170 square foot 5 bedroom 4 bath Queen Anne Victorian built in 1898. Ideally located across the street from Alamo Square Park and a block away from the Painted Ladies on Steiner. This home last sold for $630K in 1989.

For the 2015-2016 tax year, The county of San Francisco gives this house a ridiculously low assessed value of $964,397. This is because the assessor's office is notoriously known for being years behind in reassessing homes. Even so, compared to the Galesburg house, $964K ($304 per square foot) is mind-numbing. Now let's talk about what this house is really worth in the context of San Francisco's perpetually overheated real estate market. Current estimates value this house at about $3.25 million which is $1,027 per square foot. I would also add that this property has some provenance due to it's proximity to the Painted Ladies and to Alamo Square Park, so maybe it's worth even more. I also have no idea what the interiors look like which, of course, could increase or decrease the value.

What's to be learned from all this? I think the answer is quite simply that there is a premium to be paid for the privilege of living in a world class city like San Francisco. Undeniably, a beautiful place to live, but be reminded of the fact that San Francisco is not without a plethora of problems including homelessness, lack of affordable housing, and a crumbling infrastructure just to name a few.

Galesburg IL photo graciously provided by Instagrammer Schlemazeltov


175 San Pablo Ave, Saint Francis Wood


5,174 square foot 4 bedroom 4 bath Colonial Revival Mansion built in 1937. Lot size is nearly a quarter acre at 10,271 square feet. Sold for $127K in 1968. Last sold for $3.1 million in 2006. Current estimates value the property at $3.8 million ($728 per sq ft).

Assessment & Taxes 2015-2016: Assessed at $3,468,048. Property taxes $40,725.29


MASON-McDUFFIE COMPANY Map of St Francis Wood San Francisco’s Residence Park Most beautiful of all residential districts. Homes and home-sites at reasonable prices and terms (circa 1918)

Cerograph Tract Map (1918)
Detail of Map of San Francisco showing St Francis Wood (1918)

March 28, 2016

1564 36th Ave, Central Sunset, The Rousseau Series

1564 36th Ave
2,125 square foot 2 bedroom 1 bath Tudor Revival style Rousseau designed home built in 1932. Last sold for $650K in 2001. Current estimates value the property at $1.54 million ($727 per sq ft). Depicted in the newspaper ad below.

1564 36th Ave
Above:Construction along 36th Avenue between Kirkham and Lawton Streets. Left 1564 36th Avenue (SF Chronicle 1932). Rousseaus' Boulevard Tract is the largest grouping of homes in the Picturesque Period Revival Historic District. This two block development also represents the largest and most ambitious collection of houses in the Sunset District developed by the Marian Realty Company, which was headed by prominent architects Oliver and Arthur Rousseau. The cohesive tract's architectural expression is exceptional. It was designed with extraordinary attention to architectural detail, displays high artistic value and invokes what was then described as picturesque Old World charm.

Drawing from a range of Period Revival styles, the Rousseaus designed highly stylized and individualized facades that are unified by materials, setback, massing, and form. buildings were designed in the following styles: Mediterranean Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival with Storybook-influenced rubble accents, and French Provincial.

Further Reading
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District Architectural Gems Rise From Fog (SFGate)

Planning Department's Survey Looks into Central Sunset Housing Tracts (Curbed San Francisco)

San Francisco’s Sunset District Experiences an Architectural Renaissance (California Home + Design)

Sunset Blvd under construction looking south at Kirkham 1931

1500 35th Ave, Central Sunset, The Rousseau Series

1500 35th Ave

2,452 square foot 4 bedroom 2.5 bath Spanish Revival style home built in 1933. Last sold for $1.2 million in 2006.

Exquisite Rousseau home with original ironwork and wood beam stenciling intact. Vaulted ceilings, 2 Fireplaces, parquet floors with inlaid design.

2015-2016 Assessment and Taxes: Assessed at $1,364,475. Property taxes are $16,023.03

Representative of a short-lived (c.1931–1938) period of highly picturesque Period Revival tract house design in San Francisco’s Sunset District, characterized by well-articulated houses designed in a profusion of fully expressed architectural styles. The District represents a clear shift from tracts of homogenous single-style buildings to tracts that express a unique composition of varied styles and forms. Each building is designed in a different interpretation of the Spanish Colonial Revival, Mediterranean Revival, Tudor Revival, French Provincial, and Storybook style, with notable design elements influenced by Pueblo, Mission Revival, and Monterey Revival.

The District’s Period of Significance of 1931 to 1938 marks the beginning and end of the picturesque-era of Period Revival tract construction. The earliest tracts designed by brothers Oliver and Arthur Rousseau in exuberant Period Revival styles influenced subsequent designs by small and large-scale builders alike. By 1938, the end date of the District’s Period of Significance, the picturesque-era had peaked, though the several tracts built from 1936 to 1938 contain the final pulse of exuberant Period Revival design applied to well-articulated facades. By then, most Sunset District houses were characterized by restrained expressions of Period Revival styles, with less articulation, differentiation, and ornamentation.

Brightening the Sunset / Oliver Rousseau, a Depression-era builder, infused the city with rows of romantic homes (SFGATE 2004) HERE

Sunset Picturesque Period Revival Tracts Historic District (SF Planning Dept) HERE

Wood beam stenciling

Parquet floors

More interior photos HERE

30 19th Ave, Lake District

30 19th Ave

1,680 square foot shingled Victorian cottage built in 1906. Last sold for $59K in 1972. Current estimates value the property at $1.6 million.

San Francisco County Assessment and Taxes 2015-2016
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Assessed value $132,987
Property Taxes $1,561.67


March 27, 2016

2050 Jackson St Pacific Heights

2050 Jackson St

5,150 square foot 5 bedroom 4 bath Beaux Arts manse built in 1929. Major interior renovation in 2004 at a reported cost of $1.115 million. From the planning department: HORIZONTAL ADDITION-REMODEL ALL BATHS, KITCHEN, NEW MASTER BEDROOM, NEW ARCH FINISHES.

Sold for $167.5K in 1972. Last sold for $7 million in 2000.

For the 2015-2016 tax year: Assessed Value $8,776,449. Property Taxes $103,061.84.

Spencer House 1080 Haight St, Haight Ashbury

1080 Haight St today

Landmarked 7,275 Square foot 11 bedroom 10 bath Grand Queen Anne Victorian built in 1895. Fred P Rabin, architect. The mansion last sold for $3.5 million in 2000.

Called the Spencer House - so named for John Spencer who was a surgeon and son of a prominent local couple. The thirty room mansion provided ample quarters for his small family.

The exterior was restored in 2001, at which time the legacy of artistry was found to be intact beneath the myriad layers of paint that had long since obscured the finer details. This house is considered exotic even for a Queen Anne. It incorporates a Romanesque Porch, a Moorish first story window, and an almost Palladian treatment of the first story of the tower.

The Spencer House is architecturally significant as it is considered a "Flatiron" building (so named because of its resemblance to the household appliance). Buildings of this type are common in commercial architecture but are rarely found as a residential property. This is the only exclusively residential flatiron in San Francisco.

1080 Haight St in 1975

1080 Haight St 1969-1970

In the Haight, Two Mansion Retreats (NYT, 1992) HERE

Lil' Queen Anne Room available on airbnb HERE

Interior shots HERE

March 26, 2016

718 Joost Ave, Sunnyside Fixer For Sale

718 Joost Exterior

718 Joost Kitchen

718 Joost View

912 square foot 1 bedroom 1 bath Victorian cottage fixer built around 1900. This property was foreclosed upon in 2015. Currently listed for $695K ($762 per sq ft). The cost per square foot for Sunnyside is $961 so this appears to be a bargain mitigated by the fact that this is a handyman's special - bring your contractor!!

55 Santa Monica Way, St Francis Wood

55 Santa Monica Way, St Francis Wood

2,730 square foot 4 bedroom 3 bath Tudor Revival built in 1924. Current estimates value the property at $2.4 million ($893 per square ft)

Currently assessed at $163,164. Property taxes for the 2015-2016 tax year are $1,916.03. The owners are the lucky beneficiaries of the less than popular Prop 13 passed in 1978. Bah humbug!!

St. Francis Wood is an upscale residential neighborhood located in the southwestern part of the city. It is characterized by well-kept family homes on large beautifully landscaped lots. St. Francis Wood is one of eight master-planned residence parks in San Francisco.

Neighborhood Demographics HERE

History of St Francis Wood HERE

Flood Mansion 1000 California St, Nob Hill

Flood Mansion - Pacific Union Club today

Flood Mansion after the 1906 earthquake

Flood Mansion after the 1906 earthquake

Flood Mansion after the 1906 earthquake

The only Nob Hill mansion to survive the earthquake and fire of 1906, saved just barely by its Connecticut brownstone walls. It was the residence of James Clair Flood (1825-1889) one of the bonanza kings of the Nevada Comstock Lode. The Pacific Union Club purchased the shell, and William Bourn, who was on the building committee, secured the reconstruction commission for architect Willis Polk.
The landmarked Flood Mansion remains the home of the uber exclusive Pacific Union Club and is decidedly not open to the public. Not ever. Not under any circumstances. It is barely open to the wives of the members.

Originally built: 1885-1886

Rebuilt: 1911

Notes from San Francisco Architectural Survey: 1ST BROWNSTONE WEST OF MISSISSIPPI. QUOINS, ARCHED WINDOWS, FLAT PEDIMENT WITH KEYSTONE, PALLADIAN-LIKE STAINED GLASS. FLOOD, AS ONE OF 4 PROPORIETORS OF THE "BIG BONANZA" VIRGINA MINES COULD AFFORD TO SPEND $1,500,000.00 ON HIS HOUSE. GUTTED BY '06 FIRE; PURCHASED BY PACIFIC UNION CLUB 1909 AND RESTORED AND REMODELED BY WILLIS POLK WHO ADDED 2 WINGS AND A THIRD FLOOR. FURTHER WORK BY GEORGE KELHAM, 1934.

Property Taxes and Assessed Value for 2015-2016 Tax Year
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$150,743.02 (assessed value $12,836,841)

About the Pacific Union Club HERE

About the Flood Mansion HERE

March 25, 2016

2090 Jackson and 2080 Washington Crumbling Pacific Heights Landmarks

The Whittier Mansion at 2090 Jackson Street

The Spreckels Mansion at 2080 Washington St

The Whittier Mansion (built 1894-1896) and the Spreckels Mansion (built in 1912) are both living proof that landmark status does not guarantee preservation. Below are photos from better times. The privately owned Whittier mansion has 10 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms in 19,576 square feet. It is built in the Richardsonian Romanesque style with period details. It is constructed of steel-reinforced brick walls and a facing of Arizona red sandstone. The Spreckels Mansion, a French Baroque chateau, is home to author Danielle Steele. It has 55 rooms in a spacious 14,966 square feet and is made of white limestone.

Property Taxes and Assessed Values for 2015-2016 Tax Year
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Property taxes for 2090 Jackson St: $79,930.69 (assessed value $6.8 million)
Property taxes for 2080 Washington St: $116,093.49 (assessed value $9.9 million)

The Whittier Mansion in 1910

The Spreckels Mansion in 1960

More about the Whittier Mansion HERE

More about the Spreckels mansion HERE

Whittier Mansion parlor in 1900
More interior photos of the Whittier Mansion HERE


148-152 Shrader St, Nopa


2,782 sq ft Queen Anne Victorian triplex apartment house built in 1910. Last sold for $1.27 million in 2003 (listed for $1.29 million).

Interior photos HERE

March 24, 2016

2861-63-65 Washington St, Pacific Heights



7,705 sq ft 3 unit Queen Anne Victorian built in 1895. Sold as condominiums as follows:

*No. 2861 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, 2825 sq ft currently listed for $3.149 million
*No. 2863 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2440 sq ft sold for $1.6 million in 2009
*No. 2865 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2440 sq ft sold for $2.4 million in 2013

No 2861 interior photos HERE

2861-63-65 Washington circa 1975

1302-04 Masonic Ave, Haight Ashbury


3 unit 4,640 sq ft Classic Queen Anne Victorian built around 1900. Many original features remain intact including corner tower, 12 ft ceilings, tall paneled doors, curved hallways and period woodwork. Each flat has living room with fireplace, formal dining room and updated eat-in kitchen with old style pantry. Lower flat is a full 5, with 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. Top floor is a full 6 with extra room which can be used as an office. An interior staircase leads to a huge full length attic. Ground floor has a 1 bedroom garden apartment. There is a 1 car garage and a basement.

Last sold for $1.435 million in 2010 (listed for $1.5 million)

1302-04 Masonic circa 1976