Thursday, February 3, 2011

San Francisco Bay’s only private island still for sale

The housing bust has even extended to fancy private islands, apparently. The last patch of privately owned real estate in San Francisco Bay has been lingering on the market since at least 2007, though the price has increased to $22 million since then.

According to the real estate site, the 5.7-acre Red Rock Island is still up for sale, and whoever buys it also gets the mineral rights, though it's unclear if the owner would be allowed to build on the island.

Red Rock has a long history: Rumors circulated in the early 18th century that pirates buried gold there. According to a 1970 New Vista magazine article, the first full-time occupant of the island was Selim Woodworth, who built a house there in 1851. The government claimed ownership of the land after that, before finally relinquishing its rights in the 20th century.

San Francisco attorney David Glickman bought the island for $50,000 and planned a massive hotel and casino complex there in the 1960s. The nearby city of Richmond blocked the project, though.

Glickman, a Thai-based gem dealer, tried to unload the island for years. He was shopping it around for $10 million in 2007, according to the Associated Press, but we at The Lookout haven't found a record of anyone purchasing the property then. Prior to that, the California Department of Fish and Game considered buying the land in 2001 to preserve its wildlife. The island has been on sale at the $22 million price since at least May of 2008.

And the eight-figure asking price would just be the first hurdle that a new  owner would have to clear. The boundaries of three California counties converge on the island, so any development would have to placate at least three sets of zoning and building officials--to say nothing, of course, of whatever additional barriers to entry that the financially strapped state of California might concoct.

We've contacted the real estate agent on the property to see if anyone has made an offer, but have yet to hear back. We'll update this post with any new information that surfaces.