BUYER: Jack Dorsey
LOCATION: San Francisco, CA
SIZE: 3,734 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Bay Area real estate gossips are all atwitter today over the (as yet unconfirmed) scuttlebutt about Twitter (and Square) co-creator Jack Dorsey dropping nearly ten million clams on an mid-century modern-minded residence alarmingly cantilevered over a nearly sheer and rocky bluff in San Francisco’s quietly swanky (and often socked in with fog) Seacliff neighborhood.
The redwood-sided residence in question first appeared on the open market way back in June 2008 with an in-hind-sight painfully rose-tinted asking price of $18,000,000. Almost four years and dozen whacks with the pricing scythe brought the final asking price down to $9,900,000, the exact amount property records show the house was most recently purchased by a corporate entity in early February 2012 that may (or may not) be linked to Mister Dorsey.
The relatively reserved Digital Age visionary, 35 years old and worth close to three-quarters of a billion dollars, (allegedly) upgraded to his living circumstances, trading in his comparatively humble penthouse-level downtown loft for this sophisticated, grown-up and almost histrionically-sited house, an architectural cousin, perhaps, to the earthy, utterly sublime and exceedingly expensive Post Ranch Inn in Bug Sur (CA). Listing information (and other online resources) show the house measures in at 3,734 square feet with just 2 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms plus a separate, windowed office nook located off the main living area and probably convertible in a pinch to a somewhat compact bedroom.
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Shortly after the property was first listed to a fair amount of fawning and fanfare, the ever-industrious kids at Curbed related a few fascinating historical tidbits about the property (via the original listing) which Your Mama will, in turn, relate to the children who haven’t already read all about it. So the story goes, in 1948 Frank Lloyd Wright may (or may not) have designed a rather dramatic, ice-cream cone-shaped house on the site for a man named V.C. Morris who owned an eponymous downtown gift shop housed in a ground-breaking building designed—also in 1948—by the forward-thinking (and autocratic) Mister Wright. Back in late 1998 Christie’s auctioned a colored exterior rendering of the proposed residence with an estimate of $12,000-$18,000. It sold for $32,200.
While Mister Wright’s soaring residential vision was not realized what was eventually designed and built in 1965 is most certainly, no matter what you think of the boxy modern architecture and stale day-core, an outright thrilling, panty-dropping work of engineering genius. We can’t imagine the powerful California Coastal Commission would allow such an startlingly situated house to be built today but then again situated not so far from Mister Dorsey’s (alleged) new digs there’s a bluff top mansion between China and Baker beaches with a swimming pool nestled in to the craggy cliff half way down to the ocean from the house. Imagine what it cost, children, to engineer and construct that cement pond and then sit down and ponder the amount of money required to keep that particular pool heated for comfortable use in the biting cold and thick fog of a typical San Francisco summer. It boggles and betwixts the brain, don’t it?
Anyhoo, the existing, low-slung and flat-roofed single-story house, hidden down a curved and sloped driveway behind an old-growth redwood drive gate set into an old-growth redwood fence, looks well-tended with expensively updated kitchen and bathrooms. The day-core as seen in listing photographs, on the other hand, is tired and uninspired but that’s really no matter at all because Mister Dorsey, with the expensive assistance of a talented nice-gay or lady decorator, can easily swap out the awful wall-to-wall carpeting and all the oddly anachronistic (but probably museum-quality antique) light fixtures.
What Mister Dorsey did (allegedly) buy is a large living/dining room over which looms a retractable, 20-foot square sky light (above, top). That’s right kids, that pyramid-shaped sky light slides open at the mere touch of a button to theatrically expose the interior of the house to the salty sea air and sparkling stars.
An over-sized, center island eat-in kitchen off the dining room area (above, lower left) has, according to listing information we peeped, beveled Beauharnais limestone floors, custom-built Brazilian blood-wood cabinetry, Volga-blue granite counter tops, top-grade appliances and fixtures, and jaw-dropping head-on views of the the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands across the wind-torn mouth of the San Francisco Bay.
The spacious family room, (melo)dramatically set the farthest out over the all-but-vertical bluff than any other part of the house, has two full walls of floor-to-ceiling windows with heart-stopping ocean, bay and bridge views, a massive river rock fireplace wall, and a ring of celestory-style windows. The glass wall at the end of the room slides open to a small but for-the-brave-only deck girdled for maximum visual impact (and vertigo) with a waist high glass panel railing. The bottoms of Your Mama feet sweat uncontrollably at the mere thought of stepping out on to that balcony in a stiff wind.
The lone guest/family bedroom has direct access to an en suite facility and a second, pyramid-shaped sky light for in-bed star gazing. As far as we know, which ain’t a thing, the sky light in the guest/family bedroom is not retractable. The master suite, just off the main living/dining area (above), floor-to-ceiling corner windows with through tree top views of the bay and bridge and a dressing area custom-fitted with cabinets and vanity of an unknown kind but exotic looking burled wood. The attached, updated private bathroom has a lot of cream colored stone, double sinks flanked by full-height toiletry and linen cabinets (that look like the same burled wood as in the dressing area), a soaking tub set into a bay of frosted windows and a separate shower with a mossy-green tinted frosted glass panel.
While outdoor space looks limited on the water/bluff side of the house, and at least some of the outdoor space at the front of the house is directly visible from the neighboring mansion, there is a small, knock-your-socks off deck up on the roof. We’re not sure how exactly one accesses the roof deck—and Your Mama would most assuredly need a gin & tonic (or two) and a fat Xanax to muster the courage to go up there—but whatever it takes to get up there is well worth the effort (and hangover) because, children, that is the exact sort of view Northern California real estate dreams are made of. Sure, the nearly omnipresent fog that enshrouds Seacliff (and much of San Francisco) probably hinders one’s ability to actually see that view a significant amount of the time, but when the fog clears, BAM!
Listing information indicates there are plans (if not approvals) to add an additional 3,000 square feet of living space above the existing house and, of course, we haven’t any idea if Mister Dorsey plans to make such a radical alteration to the existing structure.
Until March of this year low-key and low-profile Mister Dorsey owned (and presumably occupied) what Vanity Fair magazine described as an “austere” apartment on Mint Plaza, a new(ish) public space tucked behind the old mint building in the heart of San Fran’s homelessville. Don’t any of you San Franciscans get all uppity with Your Mama for saying that. We heart us some San Francisco like a newborn loves its momma’s nipple. Your Mama lived there, once upon a time in our long-ago youth, in a splendid if mildly shabby Art Deco building known as the Allen Arms and we visit regularly so we (sort of) know of what we speak; The immediate area around Fifth and Sixth Streets just south of Market were Mint Plaza is located may not be the skin-crawling and nose-hair curling skid row it once was but it can still be a pretty unsavory pocket of the downtown area despite the Abercrombie and Fitch store, the growing plethora of pricey locavore eateries, and the fancy-pants Blue Bottle coffee shop. Is there anything more uncomfortable (or quintessentially San Francisco) than sipping on a certified organic, $77 single-origin thimbleful of coffee and being panhandled by a one-shoed woman wearing a house dress rendered cardboard stiff with street filth? Hush up! Y’all know it’s true.
Anyhoo, property records and other online documentation show Mister Dorsey paid $925,000 for a 1,199 square foot loft-type conversion in March 2009. In January of this year (2012) the 10th floor 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom aerie was listed for $1,100,000 and sold in early March for an even-steven $1,000,000.
Listing photos we enticed up out of the internets show the loft has exposed concrete and plaster walls, high-gloss acid-stained concrete floors, high ceilings, big double-hung windows, open kitchen with center work island and glass-topped snack counter, a bedroom with walk-in closet, laundry closet, one bathroom and wood and metal spiral staircase that twists up to a private roof terrace with city and peek-a-boo bay views.