Real Estate Investor

Tenant improvements

Artist’s rendering of the refurbished Presidio Officers’ Club. image: presidio trust

In this densely populated, built-up city, some of the most desired property is something you can’t have. The Presidio is land like any other land, but it’s run by the Presidio Trust on behalf of the government (which ultimately means on your behalf). This autumn, we will get to see one of the most significant improvements in the Presidio when the Presidio Officers’ Club reopens and begins its new life as a public cultural center.

The Trust spent $19 million between 2011 and 2014 to rehabilitate the building known as California Historical Landmark No. 79. Spanish explorers created the establishment all the way back in 1776, where they set up their military presence in what would eventually become San Francisco. They were followed by the U.S. military, whose officers used it as their gathering space for much of the past century.

Revitalizing this 238-year-old building included preserving its adobe walls (for which the Trust earned a 2011 Preservation Design Award from the California Preservation Foundation), a seismic upgrade, and repairing the front portion of the building and the newer rear addition, which had been added in 1972 by the U.S. Army. The two sections are now tied together by a new connecting structure, and a basement was added for mechanical and storage purposes.

After this renovation, San Francisco’s oldest building will now feature spaces for education, entertainment, science, and food. Classrooms will be available for elementary-through-high-school students to learn directly from Presidio Trust educators, and a state-of-the-art archeology lab “will support ongoing research and enable the community to observe archeologists at work through live digs,” according to the Trust. Thursdays through Sundays, the site will also host live music and dance programs, discussions with public figures, theater, films, and family programs. A new ballroom will be available for private celebrations and business meetings.

Officers and their families are no longer the only people getting good service there; a new restaurant, Arguello, will feature Mexican dishes and a bar with craft cocktails. Arguello is a partnership between the Trust and chef Traci Des Jardins.

“The Officers’ Club was a beloved social destination for the Army as well as for San Franciscans for decades,” said Craig Middleton, Presidio Trust’s executive director. “By expanding the purpose of this revered place, we will welcome our entire community — visitors from across the region and around the nation. This is a flagship offering and a critical part of our mission to offer the public meaningful experiences in this beautiful park setting.”

The Presidio Trust is inviting the public to the opening festivities the weekend of October 4–5. You can find details about events at the Officers Club, located at 40 Moraga Avanue on the Main Post, at


There might be some moderation in the high cost of housing in San Francisco (see Real Estate Roundup, page 28), but the luxury market segment is still going gangbusters. The second quarter of 2014 saw a 23.6 percent increase in sales activity for homes selling for more than $2 million, according to a new market report from Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. And there were nearly twice as many second-quarter sales as there were in the first quarter of this year.

Here are some of the notable findings in the Coldwell Banker luxury report:

  • San Francisco’s most expensive second-quarter sale was an $11 million transaction in Presidio Heights for a six-bedroom, eight-bath, 4,000-square-foot home;
  • Presidio Heights/Inner Richmond boasted the most luxury sales with 25, followed by Pacific Heights and the Marina with 23 each, Noe Valley with 18, Embarcadero/SOMA with 16 and Russian Hill with 13;
  • Luxury homes are selling faster, too — they sold in an average of 51.8 days during the quarter, down from 55 days a year ago;
  • Sellers received 110 percent of their asking price on average, up from 105 percent a year ago and 106 percent the previous quarter.


It’s not just housing that has been impacted by an influx of tech business and an artificially restricted inventory of available property. San Francisco’s office space has a low vacancy rate and prices per square foot have risen about 81 percent in the past four years, notes Kevin Montgomery over at Valleywag.

Six companies — Dropbox, Google, LinkedIn, Salesforce, Twitter, and Uber — are credited or blamed for taking up most of the available office real estate here lately.

In the 1980s, city voters approved Proposition M, which capped the amount of new office space allowed each year. So don’t look for the shortage of inventory to change any time soon.

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