Quietly acquired for $16 million in August of last year, plans to raze the 11,351-square-foot, three-story Mid-Century home at 4 Sea Cliff Avenue – which was built in 1956, expanded in 1998, upgraded in 2016 and occupies a 26,432-square-foot parcel overlooking Baker Beach, the Golden Gate and its Bridge (with a private gate that opens to the Presidio and down to the beach below) – are in the works.

As envisioned by “418 Ventures,” a modern 9,321-square-foot home designed by Butler Armsden Architects would then be built on the site, with a lower average height when measured and viewed from the street.

The plans include a complete re-work of the home’s eastern gardens/terrace as well.

And then there’s an integrated “accessory dwelling unit (ADU)” to be constructed below the lowest level of the three-story home, an 822-square-foot element which isn’t included in the 9,321 square feet figure and is being positioned as a “naturally affordable” addition, that “may be used as rental housing,” in a bid to secure Planning’s approval for the project, a project which would, per the team’s legal council, “[enhance] the neighborhood’s cultural and economic diversity by replacing a large single-family residence with a smaller single-family home with an attached accessory dwelling unit.”

On a related note, the requested Discretionary Review (DR) of the plans for modern 10,400-square-foot mansion to rise at 178 Sea Cliff Avenue, a project which was designed by Butler Armsden Architects as well, has been rejected and the application for the development’s building permit has been approved.

We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Zugamenzio Farnsworth

    Wondering “how bad” it looks inside the existing.

    • Posted by SocketSite

      In addition to being expanded in 1998, the home’s kitchen, mud room and laundry rooms were newly remodeled in 2016 (as referenced above). And according to the agent that sold the home, the existing light-filled residence boasts “a design for entertaining on a grand scale,” complete with second commercial kitchen, movie theatre and wine cellar below.

  2. Posted by Zugamenzio Farnsworth

    indeed was pondering kitchen is probably still essentially “in style.” seems someone really dislikes the existing,,,,which i can’t find photographed….my parent’s place from 1955 started to fall apart by 1970…possibly here…..the roof, or dry rot,,,or the sea air affecting…

  3. Posted by jenofla

    There’s the million dollar view, and there’s the 16 million dollar view. Dang. I feel like going out to Baker Beach this evening and getting it for free.

  4. Posted by Julian Lewis

    Whatever Butler Armsden wants, SF planning gives them. It’s ridiculous. They were permitted to change the historic roofline of a qunitessential William Wurster home at 2600 Pacific just because Lewis Butler is seen as some sort of deity at planning. The same rules don’t apply to the rich at SF planning.

    • Posted by sockettome

      I hate that dormer too!

    • Posted by Sunsetter

      Why should the planning department stop this? Some super rich people want to tear down their house and replace it with a new one – is there something inherently wrong with that? What is the objection to this project?

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        Legally – nothing wrong with it.

        Ethically – this brings out the inner Communist in me (a phrase that I use with decreasing humor as I get older). There are families – hard-working honest people – struggling to put food on their table and wondering how they’d pay an emergency room bill, and here’s someone wanting to tear down a $16M home and build a 10,000 sq ft structure.

        I think that ethically – if not legally – that’s an abomination, and the sign of a society on the edge of collapse.

        • Posted by North Beach

          I’d say it’s much better for that honest working family if the money is spent, and people employed to do the work, than if it’s just piling up in a bank.

          • Posted by Notcom

            Ah! but a good Communist would tax that money away… so it would really be a dozen Muni drivers – or three or four Police Sergeants – building their vacation homes somewhere; admittedly it would probably be somewhere else, but spreading the wealth to the impoverished hinterlands…I can’t think of a better redistribution scheme !! And it’s all done via market forces …well sorta’.

          • Posted by Sierrajeff

            Ah yes, “trickle down economics” – if only you poor people would let the rich accumulate more wealth, then they’ll buy things that you can work to make for them! A dismissive elitist theory at best, and proven wrong by a decade of Reaganomics.

          • Posted by North Beach

            “Trickle down economy” has MANY problems, however, this house isn’t really one of them. One problem with “trickle down economics” is that most wealthy people don’t actually spend their money – that’s why cutting taxes on the rich rarely gives much of a boost to the economy, where as providing money to those of less means does boost the economy (because they spend it!). Here’s someone with tons of money who found a way to spend some of it.

            I guess ethically it ultimately depends on what the alternate use of the money here would be. If they instead donated it to a worthy cause, then I agree, that would be better! Unfortunately I don’t think that would ever be an option. Instead it would be parked in stock, or in a bank account. Less visible but worse for society.

  5. Posted by ananimal

    Had to look up 2600 Pacific’s DR. Shame on the neighbors for their selfish hand wringing. Glad that Planning saw through the BS and upheld its approval.

    If 2600 was mentioned to protest 4 Sea Cliff, then this is an even more egregious complaint. The proposal is clearly a significant improvement over the existing house, allowing for better views of the bridge from the street and a much better view up the hill. Quality that lives up to the neighborhood without mirroring some of its embarrassing displays of opulence.

    • Posted by sockettome

      No protest from me, regarding 4 Sea Cliff. I think it’s quite nice! Alterations to 2600 Pacific over the years are unfortunate.

    • Posted by Julian Lewis

      Ananimal — I think you are missing the point. There are many homes in SF that could be made more beautiful, but unless you are SF royalty (like the Schwabs or Lewis Butler or in the case of 2600 Pacific, both), SF Planning applies a different set of rules. The discretion given to the planning group and the cronyism there is absurd.

      • Posted by ananimal

        I think I get it. Someone wants to renovate. Let’s say they want to add a dormer to their house that is barely, if at all, visible from the street. Neighbor(s) reflexively oppose and file a grievance because that’s what one does. Really, with all the injustice in the city, this becomes their hill to die on. The DR delays the project and adds costs because people think they should have a say in how someone else should renovate their house. So Planning takes a look, probably really digs into it because that’s their job. They pour over the drawings and complaints while a backlog of other deserving projects piles up behind them. Months pass and the decision is that the design in fact follows the planning code. Case dismissed. Sour grapes, apparently for years.

        You know why the Schwabs get through this crap? Because they can afford it. I know, gross. You know what’s worse? Abusing the DR process to harass code compliant projects. People’s own neighbors no less. That is really disheartening.

        You know why Lewis Butler gets through this crap? I don’t know, but I’m guessing it’s because he goes through this every g*d**mn time his phone rings, and after lots and lots of practice he knows how to deal with it. What I’m grateful for, even though it’s none of my business, is that his firm’s design solutions are delightful. Just makes that haul to the beach with my cooler and inflatables that much better.

        But you might be right, Julian Lewis. Schwab and Lewis are probably trading dirty jokes over cigars with mid-level planners downtown, just to get them to approve code compliant projects after months and sometimes years of delay and thousands in soft costs. Not saying there isn’t corruption at Planning, or DBI, or anywhere else in city government, but it probably isn’t the neighbor’s dormer or replacing a meh Brady Bunch house with a well designed, less intrusive house.

  6. Posted by Tony Timpa

    There is an informal path along the eastern perimeter of this property, from Lincoln Boulevard down to Baker Beach. The gardens referenced include an array of pagoda roofs and small sculptures.

    Given the recent high attendance at Baker recently, I would guess half of the town of Antioch knows this property by now.

    • Posted by SocketSite

      The existing array of pagoda roofs and small sculptures is actually pictured in the eastern gardens/terrace gallery above. And unless we’re mistaken, said photo was actually taken from the aforementioned path.

      • Posted by Tony Timpa

        No. There are many more gardens and hardscape installations not shown. The ADU on the ground floor side elevation would front Lobos Creek and is not shown in the photo renderings. It’s fine if the “renters” won’t mind foot traffic.

  7. Posted by dwf

    It might be SF’s most prestigious neighborhood but its a perpetual construction zone at an industrial scale during the week.

    • Posted by Conifer

      It is a nice neighborhood, but it is cold, windy and damp, and far from the center. It is geographically the northern end of the outer Richmond, with great views of the Golden Gate from the west. The houses are better than the neighborhood. It is not and has never been “SF’s most prestigious neighborhood.”

      I say let them build what they want. The building to be demolished is no great treasure.

  8. Posted by Neighborhood Activist

    An ADU which “may be used as rental housing.” I’d put my money on “…but will never, ever actually be rented.” It might make a good maid’s quarters, though.

    • Posted by Jake T

      Who ever lives here can afford domestic help. Better they live on-site than in Vallejo.

  9. Posted by Michael

    I did a spit take at the “[enhance] the neighborhood’s cultural and economic diversity by replacing a large single-family residence with a smaller single-family home with an attached accessory dwelling unit” line.

    I like the plans but they’re angling to turn a $16M home into a $30M+ property with a beach cabana/guest house.

  10. Posted by Eddy

    Expensive lot and overlooks a federal building or some other treatment center. Seems an expensive proposition but should be a net improvement. Can you link or post the full plans submitted? Lots of rumors on the buyers of this one. 😉

  11. Posted by Miraloma Man

    Disgusting and shameful waste of resources, how very American. Rich people should be taxed.

    • Posted by Tony Timpa

      Please contribute your personal annual spending budget and give the good people of Socketsite the opportunity to weigh in on which of your expenditures are shameful.

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