San Francisco is a town known for its exclusive and rarified neighborhoods. But none—not Sea Cliff nor Nob Hill, not even posh Pacific Heights—compares with the grandeur that is Presidio Heights. Nearly three years ago, Julia Roberts bought a home in this quiet, under-the-radar district—which borders the vast, forest-like Presidio park from which it takes its name. Now one of Presidio Park’s most-storied homes at 3450 Washington Street is on the market—a vast, French Normandy-inspired urban estate priced at $45 million.
Even by top-of-the-market San Francisco standards, the mansion impresses—which makes sense. If it goes for $45 million, the home would be the most expensive sale in San Francisco history. It would also make for a massive profit over the last time it sold back in 2014 for $18 million in the priciest city deal of that year.
The property dates back to the early 1930s, and includes six bedrooms, seven bathrooms and three half-bathrooms spread over nearly 10,000 square feet. The architect was Albert Farr, a little-known, but truly pioneering California design mind and one of the state’s first formally licensed architects. Born in Nebraska and raised in Japan, Farr completed now-iconic homes across San Francisco’s most upper-crust enclaves, including Russian Hill, St. Francis Woods and, of course, Presidio Heights. Farr ultimately died in Italy.
Originally commissioned by Elsa Guggenhime in 1929, “this home represents a paradigmatic blend of elegant and stately historic architecture with contemporary luxurious interiors,” says agent Antoine Crumeyrolle of Compass in San Francisco. “Farr and his partner Joseph Francis Ward are celebrated for creating many of San Francisco’s grandest and most beautiful homes, often in the Georgian or Craftsman styles.”
In the case of 3450 Washington Street, the design choice was clearly French-Norman-inspired, a theme which led the property’s recent head-to-toe upgrade and renovation. Current owners Mark Armenante and Young Sohn—a billionaire tech couple behind the cloud-application software Vlocity—”completely reimagined the interiors” of the home, Crumeyrolle said.
The renovation was as grand as the home itself. Fronted with slabs of limestone and accented with an elegant, arched entry portico, the home’s newest incarnation was overseen by Handel Architects, a firm whose practice includes partner Michael Arad, designer of the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City. Completely modernized and updated, Crumeyrolle says home would ideally suit “a San Francisco family with exquisite taste searching for a larger home in the City’s best neighborhood.”
Such a family would find a property filled with nearly every imaginable detail and amenity—including prime Golden Gate Bridge views. There’s a 3,000 bottle wine cellar, a fully equipped spa with sauna and steam room, a redwood-paneled three-car garage, private motor court, dual chef’s kitchens, a hidden cigar room and elevator to easily connect it all. There are also seven fireplaces and four decks for ample outdoor entertainment possibilities.
The home’s entry level is perhaps its most dramatic. The main living room is designed in the open-plan style, and leads to both a formal dining room and more casual eating nook. The area follows on to a pair of French doors which lead first to a patio and then onward to a foyer along with a glass-covered foyer. Additional property details include patterned flooring, a curved stairwell with swirling balustrades, coffered walls and oversized arched windows.
The property comes to the market following a pair of recent city price records. In July, the $29 million sale for a pair of penthouses owned by former Secretary of State George Schulz earlier this year, a record for a condo home. Around the same time, billionaire football team-owner Kevin Glazer paid $34.5 million for a Pacific Heights home dating back to 1927 and designed by architect Arthur Brown, Jr., who also designed San Francisco’s City Hall and Opera House.
The San Francisco luxury market has been one of the nation’s most buoyant over the past decade, though signs of contraction have emerged. According to property data site Redfin, San Francisco’s average home sales prices was down 11 percent in August to $1.3 million; homes are also spending a longer time on the market, an average of 33 days vs. 21 days a year ago. Compass agent Crumeyrolle actually sees this an opportunity for canny buyers willing to act fast, “buyers are now finding more inventory to choose from and fewer buyers to compete with in this current phase of the economy,” he said. “This creates an ideal market for those prepared to purchase today. “
See below for more photos of 3450 Washington Street in San Francisco: