UPDATED Oct 24, 5:05 p.m. — The prized 110-acre swath of land on the Tiburon Ridge known as the Martha Co. property is now up for sale for $110 million.
The property, which features sweeping iconic views of the San Francisco skyline, Golden Gate Bridge, and San Francisco Bay, is being marketed by Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty to a buyer who would want to build one single-family home on the property and allow the rest of the land to remain open space.
However, the purchaser of the property would also be entitled to build up to 43 houses on the property under court rulings that date back to 1976.
“If we get big developers, it’s not going to be an easy ride for them,” said Lydia Sarkissian, a Tiburon real estate agent who is co-listing the property with Bill Bullock. “But we’re focused on one buyer that is sensitive to the environment and sensitive to locals. They do exist out there.”
The property has been owned by a consortium of heirs of the John L. Reed family since the early 20th century. The Reed family has been trying to develop it on and off since 1975. The property has been subject to legal fights and controversy ever since.
Mark Reed, a Lyford Cove resident and one of the Martha Co. heirs, said he has heard some interest in buying the property, and that the family felt it made sense to put it out on the market.
"I’ve had every open-space interest group says they want to buy it, and none of them have made an offer” worth considering, he said.
Reed declined to comment on whether he was in favor of having just one home built on the property or the 43 homes currently allowed, adding that they would still actively be pursuing approval from the Marin County Board of Supervisors for entitlements on the specific plan for the 43-home subdivision.
The property is currently the subject of a lawsuit from a citizens group Tiburon-Belvedere Residents United to Support Trails, who are seeking formal recognition of the public’s right to continue to use two miles of trails across the land that have been used for several decades.
It was unclear by The Ark’s press deadline how the home listing would affect the lawsuit; a ruling from Judge Roy Chernus has been pending in that case. Reed said the current lawsuits against the property did not factor into the decision to put the home on the market.
Another grassroots group, Tiburon Open Space Committee, has been attempting for years to prevent development on the land and has tried to get the Martha Co. to sell the property to it so the land can be added to the 122 acres of the adjacent Old St. Hilary’s Open Space Preserve. Jerry Riessen, the leader of the committee, said having just a single home would be a “huge improvement” over the current proposal for 43 homes, but he wants to see a specific plan before he celebrates.
“This is a huge change from their previous effort, and I gather it’s because they’ve done so poorly in the courts,” Riessen said. “So we’ll have to see really what their plan is, what this supposed single buyer really entails. But this is a big change and there’s a lot of questions that need to be answered first.”
Ed Lynch, a Tiburon resident and senior vice president at Compass real-estate brokerage, agreed that a scaled-down plan would likely be more palatable to the neighborhood.
“If somebody came in that was reasonable and had a reasonable plan to build one or two or three homes and (the rest) was open space … I think the community would probably embrace that,” Lynch said.
Lynch said $110 million seemed like a lot of money but noted he has “not ceased to be amazed” at how much real estate can sell for in Marin.
“There are so few vacant lands (sites) in Marin that it’s just a really kind of difficult thing for most people to wrap their head around,” Lynch said. “But I think with the location and the amount of money out in the world today, that property might appeal to a cadre of buyers.”
At $1 million per acre, the property is similar in size and price to the undeveloped land recently listed as part of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's estate. That property — 120 acres for $150 million, or $1.25 million per acre — is located in Los Angeles' Beverly Crest area. An adjacent 97-acre property, with plans for a 75,000-square-foot mansion, is on the market for $250 million, or $2.58 million per acre.
Riessen, however, said he thought the property would “languish” at the current asking price. He said his organization would still be open to purchasing the property if the owners would “listen to real numbers.”
But Sarkissian said the price point on this listing would put Tiburon and Belvedere on the “global map” that would attract a new kind of mega-buyer to the Tiburon Peninsula.
“Those kinds of numbers, we’ve only heard about them in Silicon Valley, and now we’re hoping that we’ll bring this area to a different level,” Sarkissian said.
Golden Gate Sotheby’s is also listing a 14-acre vacant plot of land called Bluff Point, situated on the 2800 block of Paradise Drive on the southeastern tip of the Tiburon Peninsula. However, the listing price of that property, which comes with approved plans for a 15,000-square-foot residence, recently came down from $37 million to $29 million.