2520 Pacific Avenue

Built for the Spreckels family in 1905 and remodeled by renowned architect Albert Farr in 1929, the 12,000-square-foot Pacific Heights mansion at 2520 Pacific Avenue was purchased from the son of former San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto (Joseph Alioto, Jr.) for $6.3 million in 1997.

The buyers spent the next seven years, and millions of dollars, restoring and renovating the home.  And then in 2013, the “iconic Pacific Heights mansion [which] embodies timeless architectural flourishes and modern amenities that artfully complement a contemporary metropolitan lifestyle” was listed for sale at $27 million.

2520 Pacific Avenue Kitchen

The “architectural tour de force” sold for $23.5 million in March of 2014, the most expensive home sale recorded in San Francisco last year.  And now, permits to remodel every floor of the mansion have requested anew and the “exploratory” demolition work is already underway.

2520 Pacific Avenue: July, 2015

The latest plans include the construction of a new bedroom, full bath and storage rooms on the ground floor (which means the home’s ballroom is likely history, no word on the fate of the hidden probation-era bar), and an extension of the home’s central staircase from the third to fourth floor.

In order to accommodate the proposed design for the extended staircase, the plans also call for a relocation of the dormers on the west side of the home.

The existing dormers, however, are actually higher than the current zoning allows, and as such, San Francisco’s Zoning Administrator has determined that “the proposed relocation of the dormers would not be in compliance with the [City’s] Planning Code,” so the staircase plans might need to be revised.

Andrew Skurman Architects are directing the multi-million dollar remodel for the buyers who are hidden behind the “Pacific LLC” this time around.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Marcia Tampoon

    It’ll never be enough, will it?

    • Posted by frog

      Do you make more than 35,000 dollars a year? Welcome to the global 1%. There are 6.5 billion people on this planet asking the same question about your lifestyle.

      • Posted by Leningrad

        excellent point! However, It’s still good to be in the 1% even if you’re living on social security and a small pension.

      • Posted by SanctuaryChitty

        You flawed logic could be used to justify anything. Just because there are so many poor people in the world, does not justify the hubris you exemplify or the people involved in this home exhibit.

        • Posted by Chris

          The home was built in 1905. The hubris was exhibited over a 100 years ago when a wealthy family built a mansion, as wealthy families tend to do. Why read real estate development sites if this sort of thing offends you? It seems deep down you find it all very appealing.

          • Posted by SanctuaryChitty

            I’m involved in RE development. I’m just not naive enough to think the squandering of wealth has no impact on society as a whole. I’m fine with people living comfortably. But, I’m not willing to pretend the fact that the richest 85 people control more wealth than the poorest 3.5 billion people makes no difference. We can live well without burying our heads in the sand. Life is not about dualistic choices as you seem to think.

        • Posted by jack

          What’s a good example of a justifiable hubris by rich people?

  2. Posted by moto mayhem

    who owns the home?

  3. Posted by Government Shrinkage

    There is word on the hidden bar: ‘A handsome library clubroom tucked off the grand foyer has an architecturally concealed Prohibition-era bar guaranteed to amuse any world-weary guest.’

    [Editor’s Note: No word on whether it will survive the remodel.]

  4. Posted by eddy

    These are like mega yachts at this point. Trophy homes customized to the nth degree. Budget be damned. I love it and predecit we’ll not see the last of this trend.

  5. Posted by Leningrad

    I will never be able to afford $6.3 million, or is it $23 million. But I am happy someone can. As medieval theologian St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “Charity rejoices in our neighbor’s good fortune, while envy grieves over it.” Some people just hate the rich more than they love the poor. Nice house, but I prefer the Mission Bay area.

    • Posted by Futurist

      Great comments. I completely agree.

    • Posted by BobN

      Whether the destroyer of a fine old home is an oligarch with no appreciation for craftsmanship or a bunch of squatters with hatchets doesn’t really figure into my criticism of the destruction.

    • Posted by SanctuaryChitty

      You sound like Horatio Alger, and just as rooted in reality.

  6. Posted by Denis

    If this is a Troon property, as suggested in the 2900 Vallejo thread, it’ll be interesting to see where the listing price ends up. 40? As extreme as that sounds, it’s not unreasonable.

    A luxury remodel takes 3+ years, has untold expenses, conflicts with neighbors, and nightmarish battles with the planning department. It’s worth a huge premium to buy something done.

    We will see several homes outside the Gold Coast come on the market in the 30ish range. The remodeled homes on Broadway now have 30+ million in them in addition to the 20/30m purchase price…

  7. Posted by Cal Culver

    I always thought this was such an elegant, gracious old home. A San Francisco treasure.

  8. Posted by frog

    Every grand old home is going to have been designed by a famous architect, just as every grand new home will be done by a famous architect. Rich people hire famous architects. Anyone who wants an expensive custom home in a city like SF is going to be destroying a masterpiece from the past, since most of the good properties have been taken.

    If I’m ever lucky enough to spend real money, people are going to create a ballot initiative to stop what I want to construct.

  9. Posted by eddy

    The $70M sale to Persson in LA sort of changed the game on high end remodels. I’ve said for quite a while now that many of these homes selling will not be on the market again for a long time; or ever. People buying these homes do not have liquidity problems. The buy price on this house, combined with the level of effort/cost to redo it, however, does make this a bit hard to understand as a pure flip considering it’s not that large relatively speaking.

  10. Posted by soccermom

    “Dad, when did you know you wanted to be a contractor?”

    “I’m so glad you asked, Bobby. I remember the day so clearly. I realized there were these vast holes next to the street on Vallejo, on Jackson, Pacific, and Broadway. The rich arrive with great trucks laden with money. They simply dump the money into the holes. All you have to do is smile and wait to catch some of it. You can always get them to dump more.

    Now Bobby, could you please take the wheel, and hand me my beer. I need to go to the bow to adjust the jib.”

  11. Posted by Conifer

    With Andrew Skurman as the architect, one may be sure that the project will preserve what is meritorious, and there will be no white box rooms for the sake a faux modernity.

    • Posted by SanctuaryChitty

      I love the house he designed for Theodore Kruttschnitt in Hillsborough. It’s completely over the top, but has the detail and scale to make it work.

  12. Posted by Mark F.

    Don’t take out the ballroom! Noooooooooooooo!!!!!!!

  13. Posted by R

    Are there no fixers to buy? What about Halsey Minor’s rotting shack down the street?

    I don’t understand buying a house that has been meticulously renovated and restored.. and then gutting it.

    • Posted by eddy

      no view so to speak.

    • Posted by Denis

      Does Minor still owe 13 million in back taxes? Le Petit Trianon will be taken back by the bank at some point. I’m sure he stashed millions in off-shore accounts which he can’t access without drawing unwanted attention. My guess is it’ll end up going for 10… Estimates to repair were 30 million and that was almost a decade ago. And talk about out of style…

      • Posted by eddy

        At this point it would be easier / cheaper to demo the site and build something that fits.

  14. Posted by jamesjr

    I love it the way it is. Oh, well….

  15. Posted by Philip

    What the heck, I’d rather see these folks spending that dough here in SF than hoarding it in some nameless hedge fund…

  16. Posted by jenofla

    At first the thought of remodeling this sounded terrible, but reading the scope, it doesn’t seem quite so bad. The ballroom looks like an upscale rec room and can be sacrificed and extending the staircase does sound quite grand. There will likely be some paring down of the interior decoration. After years of looking at white boxes or white-painted woodwork, I’m actually feeling the joy of color and crazy texture in the current state. But whether someone could live with that 24-7, who knows.

  17. Posted by Sethgreen

    Small note of interest: last owner was a founder of the diploma mill known as University of Phoenix.

  18. Posted by Ruthe Eberhardt

    It is really a shame that people feel it is okay to gut houses that have truly beautiful items that could be recycled. HGTV is always showing people destroying perfect good things and throwing them in the dumpster. And we talk about “Going Green”???

  19. Posted by anon

    what’s up with “hidden behind” … LLC? that’s not very flat language, is it?

  20. Posted by Kurt Brown

    Stories like this are the Kardashian / Trump equivalent for real estate blogs. Always great for clicks and buzz.

    As for the implications on the real, not the virtual, world, soccermom got it right: all this money is going into skilled laborer’s hands, and in that respect, it’s way better than it moving around between complex financial instruments that only computer programs can understand. It frankly doesn’t matter if anyone ever lives in these things or not, it’s a great jobs program for the skilled trades. And much less environmental impact than leveling a private island, so I’m always happy when I see these vanity projects constantly churning thru those excess disposable millions.

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