Sixteen months ago we introduced you to “Solaria” (asking $10,700,000 at the time), three months later we shared the scoop (developer ran out of money and notices of default were filed), and yesterday a plugged in tipster dropped us a line:

[166 Buena Vista] caught my eye in today’s Chronicle sold list: $1,980,000 on 7/1/08….Would love to know the inside scoop on this one.

As would we. We’re assuming some additional assumed debt besides the reported sale price, but who knows. No really, who knows?
And two bits of irony related to the now defunct marketing site for the property: 1. the reported sale price is well below the combined value of the six cars that were rendered in its garage (and only slightly more than the Bugatti alone), and 2. the “Solaria is a symbol of success” copy.
The SocketSite Scoop On “Solaria” (166 Yerba Buena Ave) [SocketSite]
The Scoop On 168 Yerba Buena Avenue (And St. Francis Court) [SocketSite]
It’s Not Always Fun And Games At The Top (166-68 Yerba Buena) [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Satchel

    Wow, something actually happened with this boondoggle?! I actually think $2MM is about the right price (and probably no debt assumption), but who knows?
    I think 166 is the one that was sort of finished. For the last 2 years at least, there has basically been no activity at the site, which is a large parcel (probably an acre or acre and a half), and also includes the unfinished grounds for the other hulking monstrosity, 168 Yerba Buena. The site was not secured – just a chain link gate that didn’t reach across the entry dirveway – and so locals often took their dogs in there to walk around and do their “business”. I’ve peeked in the windows of Solaria, and it basically looked finished (staged funiture, too), but the larger 168 Yerba Buena is still just a shell.
    It’s actually a beautiful spot – not in St Francis proper I don’t think, but just above it. The views from 168 are likely to be outstanding, but less so from 166. Neverthless, $10MM was never going to work here, and the developers (who started this project in 2000) were total fools (I hope they imploded a lot of their own capital, but sadly it was probably just the banks’ and/or investors’ cash). Better views can be had just above this parcel from nice old houses like 154 Maywood (just sold for $1.5M), 60 Ravenwood (short sale that is languising at $2.1M), 70 Ravenwood (just sold for $1.35M after initial listing at $1.6M), and 10 Fernwood (short sale at $1.55M, languishing after having sold for $1.75M in 2004 – they’ve cut off the water so the landscaping is dying).
    If you want to look at the hulking monstrosity (it’s grey stucco or perhaps cement) of 168 Yerba Buena and don’t feel like sneaking around the fence and “do not enter” signs like everyone else does, I recommend driving south on San Jacinto or San Andreas (both start at St. Francis green) and look up at the folly that looms over this nicely scaled grand old neighborhood. You can’t see the house from Yerba Buena.

  2. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Hopefully any mechanic’s liens have been removed prior to this sale. Comments like this one on a previous Solaria thread give the impression that the developer stiffed a lot of contractors.

  3. Posted by sleepiguy

    Fun! Will we see a repeat of this next year with the equally disastrous idea that is 2157 Green? Should we take bets?

  4. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    sleepiguy : the sellers of 2157 Green have structured their offering so that the buyers fund the project and assume 100% of the project’s risk. Their buyer (if one even exists) will very likely be someone who intends to live there so as long as they can corral enough cash to get the project initiated then it will not flop the way that Solaria did. I really doubt that anyone is going to construct 2157 Green on spec. Doing so would be extremely risky.
    Solaria and its sibling were spec homes funded by the developer and their banks (and apparently some unwitting contractors) who had high expectations dashed by the market downturn.

  5. Posted by Satchel

    “high expectations dashed by the market downturn”
    LOL! Which one? These dummies started this project in 2000, starting just as the internet boom was about to go bust (I remember reading the whole story back when Acabado International had a functioning website….hehehehe). Not even the international housing bubble – the largest bubble in the history of the world – could save them, and they got caught in that “downturn” as well! (and BTW, the downturn while noticeable has been pretty mild out here in St Francis…so far).
    At least 8 years spent thinking about, planning, permitting, greasing palms of city officials, stiffing contractors, etc. and the two hulks and surrounding grounds of “St. Francis Court” are not even finished. If I’m not mistaken, the whole development of the 700 acres of St. Francis only took about 10 years from being a glint in someone’s eye to having maybe 50% of the land developed (and maybe 80% of the grand scale SFHs) (1917 or so to 1927). Progress?

  6. Posted by fluj

    “LOL! Which one? These dummies started this project in 2000, starting just as the internet boom was about to go bust (I remember reading the whole story back when Acabado International had a functioning website….hehehehe). Not even the international housing bubble – the largest bubble in the history of the world – could save them, and they got caught in that “downturn” as well! (and BTW, the downturn while noticeable has been pretty mild out here in St Francis…so far).
    At least 8 years spent thinking about, planning, permitting, greasing palms of city officials, stiffing contractors, etc. and the two hulks and surrounding grounds of “St. Francis Court” are not even finished. If I’m not mistaken, the whole development of the 700 acres of St. Francis only took about 10 years from being a glint in someone’s eye to having maybe 50% of the land developed (and maybe 80% of the grand scale SFHs) (1917 or so to 1927). Progress?”
    Without knowing the backstory at all, I can say that I know scores of developers who could have done a whole lot better inside the eight years in question! Maybe not at this particular site, because again, I don’t know. But 2000 to 2008? You could shorten it to 2003 to 2008 and not even have to be any good at all. This smacks of so much more than market downturn.

  7. Posted by ex SF-er

    This smacks of so much more than market downturn.
    Agreed. This development of course will go down in flames.. however perhaps the people who put this together end up all right (I hesitate to call them “developers”)…
    8 years worth of billable income that they get to keep. so long as the debt isn’t in their names anyhow!!!!
    sounds like a good scam to me. Spend 8 years and millions on a project… of that, a lot of it can be your “income”. then 8 years later put the homes on the market hoping for an unrealistic $10M-$12.5M. if it fails the bank takes the husk and your company goes BK, but you are scott free and keep the income.
    Now I’m not saying that is what happened here… I have NO IDEA… and it’s more likely that isn’t the true story… but I wouldn’t be shocked if something in the same vein were the case.

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