909 Tennessee Auction Results

Update 4/29/2011: via socketsite, the property closed escrow this month with the original bidder for $1,310,000. The plan is to re-zone, and hopefully install a restaurant on the ground floor with two residential homes above.

How much for that dilapidated firehouse in the window? Loyal readers and bored cubicle dwellers have been following the story of 909 Tennessee Street, and while most of us were off throwing elbows at Whole Foods last Wednesday, a few folks were instead down at City Hall, trying to outbid each other for a little sliver of San Francisco history.

909 Tennessee Firehouse

For those of you who are restless to know the results of the former-firehouse-for-sale, I just got off the phone with the Real Estate Division of the City General Services Agency. They pleasantly informed me that the winning bid opened last week (November 23 for those of you with an eye for detail) was $1,310,000. Which is fairly impressive, considering that old firehouse #33, a firehouse that you could move right into was on the market for $975,000 (as of Nov. 30 it is listed as being Active Contingent – contract accepted, buyer contingencies remain – in the MLS).

Apparently the old maxim of location, location, location also applies to abandoned firehouses, since someone willingly paid substantially more for 909 Tennessee in the dogpatch neighborhood than an occupied-former-firehouse in the Oceanview neighborhood. Not that I’m blaming them or saying they overpaid, I’m just saying.

But the real question is, what will the proud new owner of this firehouse be doing with it (other than rezoning it, since it currently is zoned public, and probably doing just a teensy-tiny (sarcasm, folks, sarcasm) bit of structural work on it, since it is also on the unreinforced masonry building list)?

Will it go the way of other churches and firehouses and become a refinished, remodeled, and restored status symbol for a facebook or google twenty-something millionaire? Or do the new owners have something else in mind? Inquiring minds want to know! And I’m also curious to know if they paid cash outright for the parcel, or got some type of financing… only time (and the tax records) will eventually tell.

Inner Sunset Real Estate Porn

This home has sold and closed escrow. Click for current homes for sale in the Inner Sunset.

Today is Tuesday Tour, and I’ll be out looking at houses from the north end of town to almost the south end (sorry, no district 10 for me today). I’ll admit that while there are plenty of parts of being a Realtor that I enjoy, without a doubt one of the best parts of being a San Francisco realtor is getting a look into so many awesome, unique, and interesting city homes.

Given our natural space constraints, I often see really smart and clever ideas for making smaller spaces feel warm, welcoming and just plain bigger. From the 10-foot wide house in Cole Valley to smart uses of what would otherwise be wasted space, San Francisco architects and designers really are accomplished at making a design constraint into a design accomplishment!

But today’s homage isn’t to the small, but to the enormous. In specific, to the very large single family house listed by Mimi Bruce of Alain Pinel in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset neighborhood (and more specifically, the Windsor Terrace section).

1651 8th Ave., photo credit: Mimi Bruce

1651 8th Ave. is an incredibly large (over 5,500 square feet per county tax records) home that was built in 1914 (tax records) by SF Architect Albert Farr (source: listing agent). The grand and elegant proportions of the rooms were the very first thing that struck me about the home. Absolutely stunning, with plenty of preserved details and rich woodwork.

You might not be a fan of the finishes in any of the three and a half baths, and the kitchen finishes aren’t exactly what I’d call understated, but if those details aren’t in agreement with your personal design esthetic, you’ll probably be able to remedy it if you can afford the list price of $2,495,000. Upstairs you’ll find a plethora of bedrooms, with the master bedroom having plenty of light and beautiful views towards the Golden Gate bridge.

Real estate agents are guilty of using cheesy phrases like “Once in a lifetime opportunity” way too often, but for this incredible home I’d have to say that the phrase really isn’t much of an overstatement.

Outer Sunset Gives NY Times the (middle) Finger

Ah, San Francisco’s Outer Sunset. The land of shivering surfers that is adored by some, ignored by many (locals), and completely misunderstood by the elitist-east-coast media establishment. But before I continue, it really is quite cathartic to be sitting in San Francisco and calling other people elitist and establishment. This post has been brought to you by the letter “E”, but I digress…

Never one to take harsh insults (bleak, for example) hurled their way, residents of the Outer Sunset have reacted to their ignoble media reputation. Eve Batey, Editor and Publisher of the SF Appeal weighed in over at curbedsf.com last week with a guest post about all that she loves (and doesn’t love) about the Outer Sunset (and she should know, since she lives there, unlike that magazine). Highlights? Surfers getting naked (er, changing) in doorways and other spots. Downside? Car Alarms that annoy for hours on end…

Since winter has definitely arrived in San Francisco, we’ve been reminded of another thing love about the neighborhood: watching winter storms roll in at Ocean Beach. In addition to watching some incredible waves break, you get a free dermabrasion thanks to the sand blowing in your face. That’s not just entertainment folks, that’s two-for-one value hard to find in this town! For those of you not in any particular hurry, you can wind your way out to Ocean Beach via the N-Judah line. For those that actually have a schedule to keep, street parking is pretty easy (for this town, at least).

We’ve seen it (almost) all when touring and showing houses in the Outer Sunset. One of our favorites that stands out from recent memory is the listing agent who advertised her listing in the ‘hood as being an “easy commute to Silicone Valley.” Which is perhaps one of the better typos we’ve seen in real estate marketing in quite some time.

Bernal Heights Fixer – Single Family

This property has closed escrow. Please get in touch if you’d like additional information.

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Bay Area Tool Lending Libraries – what about San Francisco?

Tool Lending Libraries, as chronicled by The Chronicle, are all the rage these days.

A woman walks into the Berkeley Tool Lending Library with a small baby cradled in one arm and a sledgehammer in the other. It’s an unusual sight for a newcomer, but Robert Young and Angel Entes don’t even raise an eyebrow from behind the checkout desk.

“We get a little bit of everybody,” Young says. “We’re looking at about 250 (new) signups every month, and there’s no such thing as ‘typical’ when it comes to people using the tool-lending library.”

The 31-year-old Berkeley Public Library institution – the oldest continuously running library of its kind in the nation – is more popular than ever and has helped turn the Bay Area into arguably the tool-lending capital of the nation.

What’s disappointing is that according to the Chronicle, there are currently no tool lending libraries that are operating in San Francisco. Which I think is a major bummer, given how expensive real estate is in San Francisco to begin with, and how handy it can be to have access to a specialized tool that you could never justify the purchase price of if you are only going to use it a few times.
I’ll confess that when in the throes of a home project, I’ve often run out to a hardware store to grab whatever tool I need to finish things. It would be very nice to have access to a professional set of tools that offer better performance and reliability than the consumer level tools that are available at hardware stores likes Cole hardware, Home Depot, or Lowes. It would be even nicer to have access to a set of tools without having to drive across a bridge or sweet talk one of your friends in Berkeley or another city into borrowing one in your name. Of course, all of this does require a bit of planning ahead!

Bernal Heights Parks

Bernal Heights has several great parks that are the perfect place to relax and enjoy the sunshine regardless of if you have dogs or kids in-tow.

Precita Park, San Francisco

Precita Park at night, via tobiwei on flickr

If you are on the south side of Bernal, Holly Park is the park that will be closest to you. It has a great playground for youngsters, as well as plenty of space for your pooch to roam while you catch up on the neighborhood gossip. It is relatively sheltered from the elements, so it is never particularly windy at this park. It is also surrounded by homes, so the odds of seeing wildlife like a coyote are pretty low.

Located close to the geographic center of Bernal is Bernal Heights Park, which in total is roughly 35 acres of park and open space. It’s at the top of the hill, so on a windy day it can be rather blustery. However, what it gives up in shelter from the elements it definitely makes up for in views. There are wonderful views of Twin Peaks to the west, downtown San Francisco to the north, and the San Francisco bay to the east. It is incredibly popular with dog owners and professional dog walkers, so if canines aren’t your thing then this might not be the park for you. And since it is at the top of the hill, be prepared for some good exercise to get there and to enjoy all that it has to offer. Your quads might kill you the first time, but eventually they’ll thank you!

If you find yourself on the north slope of Bernal, you owe it to yourself to check out Precita park. Relatively flat, it has great spaces to play soccer (or your favorite ball sport), as well as a great playground for kids. And just like every other park in Bernal, you can expect to see plenty of pooches. Since it is at the bottom of the hill, you don’t have much in the way of views. But you also don’t have to walk up a hill to enjoy it!

5 Things About Bernal Heights that I Love

Bernal Heights is a neighborhood on San Francisco’s central-east  side that has a huge fan club of residents and admirers. Photos like the one below give you some idea of why. Here are a few parts of Bernal Heights that I love.

Bernal Sunset via "The Nickster" on Flickr.

1. Alemany Farmer’s Market – the first farmer’s market in California, it opened in 1943. It has a reputation for being much more laid back and affordable than the Ferry building farmer’s market. If you want to be seen fondling organic-sustainable-local arugula, head to the ferry building on Saturday. If you just want great ingredients without the attitude, you can’t do better than here. Open Saturday’s, 7:00am – 2:30pm at 100 Alemany on the backside of Bernal Heights.

2. Bernal Heights Park – Located at the top of Bernal hill, it is approximately 35 acres of open space, with dogs welcomed off-leash. Not a dog fan? Then come for the great views and neighborhood gossip. Coyotes surface from time to time, so use appropriate common sense.

3. Little Nepal – A great Nepalese restaurant along Cortland street. Go eat there. You’ll be glad that you did.  What more can I say?

4. Sandbox Bakery – Located along Cortland street, not too far from Little Nepal, I can highly recommend their Triple Ginger Snap cookies. They have a variety of pastries, all of which look delicious. They close early at 3pm, so be sure to get their early so you can get your awesome cookies. Just try not to buy them all before I get there!

5. The Views – Depending on where you are in Bernal Heights, you can end up with wonderful views towards Twin Peaks, Downtown San Francisco, or the San Francisco Bay. Homes on the North Slope are most likely to have downtown views, while homes on the west side may have great views towards Twin Peaks. Houses on the far east side of the hill, if they are high enough up, sometimes offer great water vistas.

Outer Sunset: Foggy? Yes. Bleak? Nah, that’s just harsh!

The New York Times Travel section has a brief little blurb on the Outer Sunset neighborhood in San Francisco, which happens to feature a store that showcases work from some of our clients. The store is Woodshop – and it is located at 3725 Noriega Street (open by appointment only). It features surfboards from Danny Hess, who is an incredibly talented surfer and surfboard designer.

His wife is an amazing photographer. If you need a custom surfboard or a photographer, you couldn’t hire better. When they bought their house in the Outer Sunset, it was, well, a disaster. But they both have an amazing sense of style, and turned their rundown home into something quite beautiful.

Woodshop, Outer Sunset, San Francisco

But anyway, back to New York Times article about the Outer Sunset. Bleak? I mean, really? It certainly doesn’t have the sunshine or murals of the Inner Mission, and it is a fairly quiet residential neighborhood, but I have to take issue with the description of the neighborhood. I mean, really! When did quiet and foggy become a synonym for bleak? If we are going to paint the Outer Sunset with the “bleak” brush because it is quiet and residential, then we might as well do the same to every suburb in America… Oh wait… back up… Most suburbs in America are bleak… but the Outer Sunset, while gray, foggy, and sleepy, just isn’t!

So hop on the N-Judah or drive out to Ocean Beach and start exploring! Make an appointment at Woodshop, visit Outerlands for a bite to eat, or hit Trouble Coffee for a cup of Joe, and after you discover for yourself that a quiet neighborhood nestled up against the Pacific Ocean isn’t at all that nasty b-word, give us a call and we’ll see if we can’t find you a sweet pad of your own to call home in the neighborhood.

Pacific Heights Mansions: Great post-turkey walking tour

The Bay Area is supposed to be walloped by a big cold front this weekend, but by Thanksgiving the skies will be clear and crisp. So as Thursday rolls around, if you’re looking for a way to (a) get the visiting relatives out the house so you can focus on dinner, (b) get a little exercise after that fabulous meal or (c) just check out some of San Francisco’s historic homes, take a look at this short list of some of San Francisco’s famous Victorian beauties and then hit the hills for a walk through one of SF’s poshest neighborhoods.

The SFGate article doesn’t provide an exhaustive history of each home, but you can find more from a tourism site that contains more house-history.

Bernal Heights Winfield Street Slides

The Winfield Street slides of Bernal Heights were recently featured in the New York Times.Winfield street is a great little street on the northwest side of Bernal Heights that runs for several blocks from Coso to Cortland. I have had several clients live on or near Winfield street who would only consider moving within a 4 or 5 block radius, so strong was their love for the neighborhood and their neighbors in the area. If you want to live within walking distance to a BART stop, it is also one of the best parts of the neighborhood to be in.

The slides are located near the Esmeralda corridor on the map above, and I find it pretty hilarious to think of politicians like former Mayor Willie Brown or Senator Diane Feinstein sliding down them, although I can completely picture city supervisor Tom Ammiano (who has also done stand-up comedy) whooping it up on his way down the slides.

As I read the article, it sounded very much like a true Bernal story to me, in particular the level of neighborhood activism, as well as the diverse and colorful characters (the article mentions a circus co-founder, community activity, and sexologist) that either built or fought to keep the slides open when the city wanted to tear them down.

While you are in the neighborhood, I can also recommend Emmy’s spaghetti shack if you get hungry and need a filling bite to eat. So what are you waiting for? Find your kids (or a neighbors, or just yourself) and head on over to Bernal Heights to enjoy the great Winfield slides. While they might just look like two slides, at the end of the day the embody a lot of truths about San Francisco, from our love of fun to our tightly-knit neighborhood communities, and our love-hate relationship with city hall and government.