Gutting 704 Pacific

By Dave Fratello | December 6th, 2012
There's nothing wrong with Pacific Avenue in the Hill Section. Some stretches between roughly 6th to 10th Street enjoy big ocean views, and many of the lots are large, affording bigger homes. It's a premier estate block for both reasons.

Alas, it may take a few cycles of development to get all the houses right.

704 Pacific: Then
As an example, look to 704 Pacific, where the site currently hosts a home that was custom built in 1997.

There was nothing awful about the condition of the house. It's big (5br/7ba, 4975 sq. ft.), and the layout – on the lot – of the buildings took good advantage of the large, upsloping 8960 sq. ft. lot. It's got a nice, quiet, sunny backyard.

The home did have a design problem, though, which caused it to stagnate on the market and sell for $1m below asking (-20%). 

Just this past April, new owners grabbed 704 Pacific for $4.250m. 

704 Pacific: Now
Now they've gutted the house completely, as this recent photo shows.

That's because the "center hall colonial" style layout of the original home just did not work. It somehow failed to take advantage of the views in some rooms, wasted space in others, chopped off living spaces from one another, seemed to have the main staircase in the wrong place – and we could go on, but won't.

The original house wasn't unlivable, but for most potential buyers, it was unlovable. While it hung around on the market, it came to be seen as an expensive "project house." Indeed, we brought a client through with a contractor, quickly generating a $1m estimate for all of the reconfiguring that the home would need.

We even heard other agents refer to the home as a teardown. A 15-year old teardown?

All these threads tell the same story: The original build may have been perfect for the family that built it, but it had no market appeal among 21st-century buyers. Mistakes were made.

This remodel is no tweak. Only the outline of the home is currently visible; whole rooms are gone as walls move around. Wind can blow through the structure front to back. (Should make for an interesting Winter at the job site.)

When the work is done, we'll expect to see a proper 21st-century home with good flow, good views and – of course – all the current must-have conveniences.

Our favorite feature looks to be getting only a modest refresher. That'd be the office way up in back near the peak of the lot. It's like a watchtower with forever views to the south, west and north – the whole Hill Section drops down to make way for the views. If you must work, and can work at home, that's the kind of place to hole up.

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