Designed by Fisher-Friedman Associates and constructed up in Diamond Heights as part of an “urban renewal” project in 1967, “Gold Mine Hill” is a collection of fifty-three units in four different styles (a duplex, two single-family houses, and a townhouse).
Fom a plugged-in reader:

I am a fellow homeowner in an award-winning ’60’s development in Diamond Heights. I wanted to send this info in as 2 houses in it are for sale and it would be great if the people that bought the houses were lovers of ’60’s design.

They are actually great deals for the amount of space they have. 38 Topaz has a power retractable roof over an upstairs atrium. 43 Topaz is huge and has a sauna and hot tub.

These 2 houses are great and I’d love it if the people who bought them knew about their history. I’ve attached a pdf of some of the background of the neighborhood. We are nice neighbors!

Don’t forget those invitations to the housewarming(s). And more importantly, don’t forget our invitations to the next neighborhood block party. We’ll bring the hula hoops.

Editor’s Note: We’ll have the aforementioned pdf online soon tomorrow.
∙ Listing: 38 Topaz Way (3/2.5) 1,792 sqft – $849,000 [MLS]
∙ Listing: 43 Topaz Way (5/4.5) 3,338 sqft – $1,688,000 [MLS]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by 94114

    I love mid-century modern architecture and style but it looks like the current owners have no interest in that. There’s not a shred of mid-century finishes or furnishings to be found in these two places.
    [Editor’s Note: Or in our words that ended up on the cutting room floor, “bonus points for restoring the two homes to their former design glory.”]

  2. Posted by SausalitoRes

    It would be really expensive to do a proper restoration. Would probably be easier/cheaper to wait for one where they haven’t already spent a lot of money doing it wrong.

  3. Posted by SausalitoRes

    What I meant is…if that’s your preference.
    Someone will probably come along who likes them basically the way they are.

  4. Posted by GlenParker

    Be sure to bring your windbreaker.

  5. Posted by ex SF-er

    I love that the neighbors are so involved to post on SS!!!!
    in general, one of the things that keeps me in the midwest is my current neighborhood. I’ve never seen a nabe like mine in SF, where everybody knows everybody, we all have keys to each other’s houses, we all watch each other’s kids, etc.
    (I’m not saying these nabes don’t exist in SF, just that I’ve never been privy to live in one like that)
    Even when I lived in inner Sunset, it was convivial but not quite as close as my nabe
    (yes, I love it, yes I know some of you would feel claustrophobic in a neighborhood where everybody “knew your business”… although it’s not that obtrusive!)
    anyway, bravo to these neighbors!!!! May I suggest you all do “Neighborhood Night Out” this summer… but I’m guessing by this post you already do it.
    the houses themselves are fine. they’ve been mainly stripped of much of the 60’s decor… that’s good or bad depending on your outlook on life!
    [Editor’s Note: So do we. And before anyone intimates otherwise, our reader provided a name and address which isn’t the same as either of the two (nor their agents) above.]

  6. Posted by Usually Named

    In SF, it’s block-by-block. On our block we do know each other and we as a group do get together for some events.
    I think, though, we’d draw the line at giving each other our keys. That just seems weird.

  7. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    I once lived in an area where no-one even locked their house doors. And left the keys in all of their cars.
    … but the semi-rural south ain’t no urban jungle.
    Cool photos : are they vintage ? The kids clothes sure look to be from the 60s.
    And finally, do you have to restore the cottage cheese ceiling texture to be true to the era ? That’s one feature that I could live without. That and Sunburst Orange electric range tops.

  8. Posted by Oakland Chap

    I live in a very similar designed complex in the Oakland Hills however built in 1972 (just after OSHA and during the period where carpenters drank regularly on the job). I must add places built during this time have great lines and wonderful and unique design for photos. However, most were probably built without insulation and with nails that were hammered into air instead of studs. I am not sure if current owners renovated behind the walls. I have learned from experience that these places have very little insulation IF ANY and trust me can get cold on not so cold days + HOT on warm days. It’s a nightmare that neighbors and I discuss often.

  9. Posted by Jake


  10. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Urban renewal eh? I wonder what used to be up there, does anyone know? For some reason I though that area was not buildable until the 60’s, though this is obviously not true for the flat parts of the hill top.
    People are pretty friendly on my block: when we came home with our new baby, three different neighbors dropped by with home cooked dinners for us. We also have our own little parade every July 4th where we block off the street and have a “parade” which is mostly the all the neighborhood kids walking and skateboarding down the street from the top of the hill to the bottom. Kind of dorky I know, but I like it. And the guy next door, a classic “millionaire next door” type, always lets my mother and step-father stay at his place when they visit. They used to stay with us, but it has gotten too crowded for that with the kids.

  11. Posted by Portalheights

    NOT URBAN RENEWAL!!!! Original use of those windswept hills! I was at my son’s baseball game last Saturday at Silver Terrace Playground and one of the other moms who is at least a decade older than me [I’m 44] asked me ‘what neighborhood is this?’ I started to tell her and she was like, I’ve been in SF for 20 years but I don’t know the history of these neighborhoods… ask me about Brooklyn. I can tell you all about that! Who are these people and why are they taken seriously?!?!?

  12. Posted by GoldMineHillResident

    Thank you SocketSite for posting the tip! Just to clarify some of the questions above, those are original photos. I became friends with the original architect and learned much about the history of the neighborhood. These houses are well insulated. They were also engineered by the same company that engineered the Cathedral of Saint Mary at Gough & Geary Boulevard- L.F. Robinson. American Housing Guild was the original developer and they did a lot of interesting well-designed neighborhoods in Marin and elsewhere in the Bay Area. Some of the original owners remain in the neighborhood and are all some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet!

  13. Posted by Jason

    These are both a bit out of my price range, but I currently rent in Diamond Heights and absolutely adore both the location and the neighborhood. I am a big fan of these places and, if they were in my price range, would happily buy in. This is a great neighborhood and the architecture/physical space of these units is truly amazing, especially with these views. Perfect for me.

  14. Posted by luigimail

    Its a shame that SF has soo few mid-century neighborhoods, I love both of these listings and would purchase and re-renovate them if I thought I could sell my place now. There was a home on Ora way that was on a home tour 2 yrs ago, that had been thru one expensive remodel, but not period specific it did have one He** of an amazing view.
    GoldMineresident, I would love to hear more about the architect/neighborhood etc.

  15. Posted by chuckie

    Um.. ok, so these two are potentially apples.
    38 Topaz last sold 8/2003 for $887K and ambitiously tried to sell for $899K for about 3 weeks in March. Since 4/1 it has sported the “New Price!” of $849K. A pretty significant capital loss for the 6 year holding period… but money is not everything!
    43 Topaz last sold 10/2004 for $1,305K. If sold for the current asking price of $1,688K, it will show “SF is special”.

  16. Posted by Jim

    This indeed is the Diamond Heights Urban Renewal Area. Planning started in 1950; The plan was adopted in 1953 and closed out in 1978. This was the era of lavish federal funding – first the Housing and Home Finance Agency, then HUD. Diamond Heights was the Redevelopment Agency’s (then called Urban Renewal Authority) first project. In those days, vacant land could become a project, and there was no necessity of a finding of “blight.” The purpose of making this an Urban Renewal area was so that it could be re-lotted and the streets and buildings could run with the topography, not against. There is housing for what was then a range of incomes, churches, parks, and shopping center. The overall architect for the site planning was the late Vernon DeMars.

  17. Posted by FormerDuncanDweller

    I wish to echo Jason’s comments – this is a great neighborhood and there are many places in the “semi-precious stone” streets that are ripe for restoration in the transition to a new generation of homeowners. No one has mentioned yet the proximity to Glen Canyon Park (some homes directly overlook the canyon or have backyards that have gates exiting to the canyon) – which makes the location even better imho.

  18. Posted by MB Pioneer

    I fell in love with the neighborhood when I arrived from LA in ’03. It was a sunny, warm week in April and I bought a big, glassy modern townhouse on Carnelian and was so excited to have found a spacious, modern home with views in SF that I could afford.
    I loved the little shopping center with Safeway, Chinese takeout and (at the time) Rite Aid.
    Then summer came. I have never been so cold in my life. The wind was nonstop. My view disappeared for months at a time. Every afternoon as I drove from Castro and Market, I became more and more depressed as the sun disappeared and the thermometer plunged.
    Two years to the day I moved out, to a condo half the size off the Embarcadero.
    To those who love it there, I applaud you brave souls. The architecture is great, albeit deteriorated after 30 some years of weather abuse.
    And now I can turn my heat off in summer.

  19. Posted by EBGuy

    Looks like there is a second (less than $100k) with a NOD on Topaz Way. Not like the neighborhood is going into default (but where there’s a second in default, there’s a cashed strapped individual or family). Sell now, or be priced in forever…

  20. Posted by NoeLocal

    I roamed Diamond Heights as a kid in the 50s — think it was called Red Rock Hill — goats and horses wandered about and the Safeway area was a huge pit where the City dumped garbage.

  21. Posted by pupu

    I rented a place near these listings 2 years ago. It’s a very quiet, nice neighborhood. However, it’s sooooo windy. Even if you have a yard, you will definitely not be spending much time there unless you like hanging out in the wind. Also depends on which side of the street your house is on, the good side gets incredible views of the city. The bad side, well, you get to watch wind blowing the trees in your backyard. The one on Ora way that was on AIA tour was nicely done. The owner spent tremendous amounts of money for the i-beams in the walls (that’s how they can have such a big open space for the kitchen/living room area without visible structure support). It’s definitely earthquake proof. But I’m sure those beams alone were easily 250k if not a lot more (i-beams were hard to come by because of China construction boom few years ago). I’m sure the owner had spend well over a million improving that house. If they decide to sell it, they’ll need to ask over $2M but that area doesn’t support that kind of asking price. So perhaps it’s their retirement home.

  22. Posted by sparky-b

    To all Socketsiters: I am available to put in as many I-beams in your house as you like for $250K.

  23. Posted by chuckie

    38 Topaz dropped the price another $50K… no listed about $90K below its 8/2003 price.

  24. Posted by LMRiM

    38 Topaz – Prop shark shows $235K put down in the first loss position. 6 years’ holding + loss of over 50% of the downpayment (so far).

  25. Posted by kaya

    Did you ever post this pdf? I don’t remember seeing it.
    [Editor’s Note: Doh! We didn’t but it’s now back in the queue. Cheers.]

  26. Posted by SocketSite

    The list price for 43 Topaz Way has been reduced $39,000 (2.3%), now asking $1,649,000.

  27. Posted by SocketSite

    The listing for 43 Topaz Way was been withdrawn from the market without a sale.

  28. Posted by LMRiM

    Did SS ever do the postmorten on 38 Topaz?
    Sold 8/2003 – $887K
    Sold 6/2009 – $790K
    Price decline of 11% over 6 years. Capital loss after transaction costs to the owner of about $150K, or 64% loss to the downpayment.
    Not even “better than stocks” for this one (stocks actually up a bit since then – more than a bit considering dividends).

  29. Posted by tipster

    So we’re at 2002 now?! 2003 went by so fast!

  30. Posted by chuckie

    A year ago on sales for $1.688M, 43 Topaz is back on market for $1.395M. Still too expensive, but DOM is 1!

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