961 Lincoln Avenue Palo Alto

Listed for $9.998 million in April, the sale of the 936-square-foot bungalow at 961 Lincoln Avenue in Palo Alto has sold for $9.5 million or roughly $10,150 per square foot!

Yes, the price included the adjacent undeveloped parcel at 955 Lincoln, which could be combined with the bungalow’s parcel to form a single 24,800-square-foot Crescent Park lot upon which a massive “family compound” could be developed, with enough land for two large homes. And once again, our headline is purposefully as asinine as the “Total Teardown Sells for Millions!” pieces we often see in the news which are woefully ignorant to the value of the underlying land.

That being said, these two parcels sit within a historic district. And in the words of a plugged-in reader, “Palo Alto’s [Architectural Review Board] is notoriously difficult to get around, and the [Historic Review Board] is even worse.” We’ll keep you posted as the plans evolve.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Adam

    Minimizing any changes visible from the street- not difficult to do on a deep lot- will probably be enough in the end to satisfy a planning board. And unless that bungalow is a contributing resource to the historic district it is coming down.

  2. Posted by Frank C.

    This is not surprising at all – 25k sq foot lot in Palo Alto for sale is not that common. On Coleridge Ave, someone paid 20m for a 20k sq foot lot a few years back (2014 or 2013). I heard that an off-market sale of a 20k+ lot not long ago on Cowper went for 30m, it’s a spectacular property.

  3. Posted by JWS

    I believe your prior “plugged-in reader” is perhaps not as plugged in as they believe they are, as 961 Lincoln does not seem to be included in a historic district of Palo Alto, nor is it included on the Palo Alto historic registry.

    Portions of Lincoln (indeed, the majority of the street between Alma and Middlefield) are indeed included in the Professorville Historic District, which is indeed very difficult to maneuver in. However, 961 Lincoln is past Middlefield (and thus Professorville), and in Crescent Park. Many properties in Crescent Park are on Palo Alto’s historic register (homes classified 1s and 2s are very difficult to remodel, while 3s and 4s are much more workable as long as the general facade is kept, although there are many scenarios where a two story home can be demolished without historic review in categories 3 and 4 if it is to be replaced by a one story new build). However, a quick glance at the historic registry of homes does not show either parcel. Lastly, the Palo Alto parcel report says the home was flagged in that in 1998 it was deemed as “might be eligible” for the historic registry, but never made the registry at all (as did no other home on the 900 block of Lincoln).

    If this was a Category 1 on, say, the 300 or 400 block of Lincoln in prime Professorville historic district, this would be almost impossible to do anything with save restore the home in a traditional manner. But the 900 block in Crescent Park with no historic designation whatsoever? The bulldozer will be there tomorrow, I’m sure.

    Unless I’m missing something, this will be more than fine and the rarity of the lot size really is something for Crescent Park.

  4. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    This places dirt value in central PA at almost $20M an acre. I knew it was desirable, but not quite that desirable. Maybe there’s an extra kick because this is a large consolidated parcel.

    From the age of the house I’m guessing the original homeowner paid around $4000 for the lot.

    • Posted by JWS

      Lots that size are a rarity in Palo Alto (unlike neighboring Atherton where this would be considered “small”) and so some would be willing to pay a premium since there are very few undeveloped opportunities of this scope in North Palo Alto.

      There are really only a handful of neighborhoods, even in North Palo Alto, that could command these prices. Crescent Park (subject neighborhood), Old Palo Alto. Pretty much that. The two best areas in Palo Alto. Professorville could maybe come close with a lot of this size as well.

      For what it’s worth, there was a similarly sized lot on Waverley in early 2014, just under 27,000 square feet (Old Palo Alto, not Crescent Park, but they are comparably desirable areas) that sold for $11.4M, and that is considered an A+++ location within that neighborhood, so there’s some precedent out there.

      Entry level land in Palo Alto is about $2M in South Palo Alto, $2.2M in lesser Midtown, $2.5M in prime Midtown, and upwards for there. Sub $2M is doable in odd circumstances (busy streets in South PA, train/freeway proximity, etc).

      • Posted by JWS

        Should be mentioned that the entry level lots I mentioned are usually in the 5,500-6,500 range.

      • Posted by SFrentier

        You seem to know Palo Alto prices pretty well. (I used to live there many moons ago, before moving to the city.) I’m curious what a typical ichler goes for in the more basic parts of town (south, midtown?) also how big are those normally? I’m assuming under 2000 sq ft. If so, can you buy an average PA home in the cheaper areas for ~ 2mil?

        • Posted by JWS

          Eichlers, as I’m sure you know, depended mostly on the tract they were originally in. There are some odd cul-de-sacs here and there (for example, Torreya Place) that had larger, later model Eichlers, as well as some North Palo Alto locations for Eichlers (Triple El neighborhood, De Soto Drive in Green Gables, and the Edgewood area of Green Gables). These are the pricier Eichlers.

          The more affordable Eichlers do tend to be in the south, although “South Palo Alto” is sort of a catch-all phrase for any neighborhood that isn’t Midtown or in the classic North Palo Alto canon. The cheapest, and only ones you could potentially do for under $2M, are East of Midtown, along Greer close to Greer Park. There are some very small Eichlers here, 3/1s or so, that in the right circumstances can sell for under $2M (but very, very high $1M). Flood zone, however. 1,000-1,400 square feet, originally.

          The big Eichler tracts to the south are:

          Fairmeadow – Mostly 3/1s with no family room, and many of the 2 bath floor plans are actually two hall baths instead of a master suite (an odd thing that I don’t think Eichler recreated later on). If you look on the map, this is the infamous “Circles” neighborhood (Roosevelt Circle, Redwood Circle, etc). $2M-$2.2M or so.

          Greenmeadow – Eichler’s more upscale tract, all homes had family rooms and many are 4 bedrooms. Square footage is the 1,600-2,000 square foot range, often. Single story overlay and you can’t demolish an Eichler here, so it attracts Eichler enthusiasts and there are many stunning remodels. $2.2M-$2.5M or so. Nelson Drive/Parkside/Creekside and the cul-de-sacs. Home to the beloved Greenmeadow Pool, a community pool that Eichler built, as well as some Eichler townhouses near Alma.

          Palo Verde – Eichlers, mostly 4 beds, of around 1,500-1,800 square feet, with a handful of the later coveted “atrium models”. Greenmeadow pricing, more or less.

          If you’re willing to go just one neighborhood south of Greenmeadow into Mountain View’s “Monta Loma” neighborhood, you can get an Eichler for under $2M. There were three developers that built the neighborhood originally, and the Eichlers are located on the far right side of the neighborhood (along Alvin).

          • Posted by SFrentier

            Thanks for that. These $2~2.5 mil eichlers would be already remodelled, or unrenovated that would need $200-300k to update them?

          • Posted by JWS

            The range would more or less be with fixers at the low, renovated at the high. As with anything in real estate, there’s always room to pop slightly above or below based on busy streets, extra large/stunning remodels, etc.

  5. Posted by soccermom

    What does it say about the state of Bay Area real estate if tear-down bungalows netting 25Ksf lots in Palo Alto are selling for $9.5mm?

    Also, what’s the math here – Build 8K sf for $600 psf? (total guess)
    $4.8mm construction + $9.5mm dirt to yield = $14.3mm
    Sell for $2K psf to yield $16mm, netting 1.7mm?

    Seems like a lot of optimism built into those numbers, but maybe I am thinking too small. Maybe you’re supposed to build 10Ksf and sell for $25mm. That would make the ROI work better, but $25mm seems like a big number no matter how you slice it…

    • Posted by Jake

      I think it tells more about the value of RE in the middle of the rich guano pile from generations of flocks of golden egg layers (Fairchild, Intel,…, Apple, Oracle,…, Netscape, Yahoo,…, Google, Facebook,…) and their mother hens and consigliere (Stanford & PageMillRoad), then it does about Bay Area wide RE. Also, SV traffic sucks, especially at the entrances to the promised land.

    • Posted by Boyd

      Your math is wrong.

  6. Posted by woolie

    A $10m lot with power lines.

  7. Posted by Mark

    ‘It’s the land, stupid’

  8. Posted by Boyd

    Land value in PAlto is pricey. Get over it people

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