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Oasis in the Clouds

A pricey penthouse listing could put San Francisco on track to becoming one of the country’s next ultraprime real estate markets.


The 181 Fremont Residences from developer Jay Paul Company and architect Jeffrey Heller.

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The living room of the half-floor penthouse, with turnkey interiors by Kendall Wilkinson Design, emphasizes soft lines with vibrant pops of color. The San Francisco Bay is on view from the floor-to-ceiling windows.

Photo: Matthew Millman

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The Orlando Diaz-Azcuy-designed bar in the Sky Lounge, which is available to all residents. The Sky Lounge wraps around the entire building and is available for special events.

Photo: David Duncan Livingston

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In the kitchen of the penthouse, Wilkinson added bright-orange leather stools, an acrylic bookcase and sculptural prisms as unexpected playful elements that would not distract from the views.

Photo: Matthew Millman

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A fully furnished penthouse hitting the market this spring at Jay Paul Company’s 181 Fremont Residences in the so-called East Cut neighborhood is equipped with all the luxe amenities you’d expect in what will be the priciest home sold in city history—if it goes for the asking price of $46 million, around $6,000 per square foot. Until now, the honors went to a 20,000-square-foot, $28 million condo at The St. Regis San Francisco in 2011 at $1,400 per square foot. This penthouse, however, is almost 7,000 square feet of lavish living space spanning the entire top floor of the tallest mixed-use building west of the Mississippi—with panoramic views of the ocean and bay; the Farallon Islands; and the Golden Gate, Bay, San Mateo and Richmond-San Rafael bridges via massive floor-to-ceiling windows. And that’s not to mention the swath of perks, including concierge services, a 500-foot-high Sky Lounge outfitted with an observation terrace and fitness center with yoga room, and an impressive collection of contemporary artwork by international artists from Joel Shapiro to Eva Rothschild.

“The decision to develop 181 Fremont was born out of a desire to create the ultimate luxury residential experience while taking advantage of the building’s award-winning architecture, exclusivity and unrivaled view potential,”saysMattLituchy,chiefinformation officer of Jay Paul Company, developer of the $850 million, 55-residence Heller Manus-and Orlando Diaz-Azcuy-designed high-rise that sits adjacent to Salesforce Tower. “We felt that this new emerging neighborhood would become a vibrant center for the world’s leading technology firms, with easy access to transportation and all the great shopping, museums and cultural activities that define the city.”

The developer’s overriding theme? To create a residential experience never before seen here in San Francisco. “As a world-class destination, the city’s ultraluxury high-rise residential offerings are surprisingly limited,” says Lituchy. “Our aim was to fill that void.” The pricing certainly seems to be in line when it comes to high-end penthouses in some of the nation’s top-tier cities. In Los Angeles, for example, the Four Seasons Private Residences—a 12-story, 59-unit condominium project near Beverly Hills set for completion in late 2019—promises a $65 million penthouse (which, if it sells at that price, will be the most expensive in town). And in the prime real estate market of New York City, the most expensive penthouse recently sold at 220 Central Park South for about $238 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The East Cut’s growing number of high-rises are sprouting during a time of great demographic shifts: San Francisco’s booming tech sector is spawning enormous wealth and driving real estate prices sky-high. While some decry the luxury condos as a metaphor for rising income inequality, others see them as a sign of progress.

So, what exactly does the new homeowner (possibly a foreign buyer or tech exec purchasing a second home in the city) snagging this ritzy four-bedroom, 6 1⁄2-bath trophy get for the lofty price tag? A Henge glass-wall study with sliding glass door by Rimadesio, a library with book-matched marble fireplace and wet bar, a grand dining room with wine display and tasting bar, and a gym with private bath and shower. Plus, in the Valcucine kitchen, there’s limestone flooring; white Brazilian Macaubas quartzite countertops; walnut cabinetry; a free-standing island; a breakfast banquette; and Miele, Sub-Zero and Bosch appliances (including a double oven, separate refrigerator and freezer towers, refrigerator drawers, and dual dishwashers). A master retreat offers sweeping northwest and southwest views, a custom corner entertainment cabinet, a duo of custom walk-in closets and dual master baths (hers boasting an oval Cristalplant soaking tub and steam shower, and his outfitted with a steam shower and floating vanity).

An added bonus? Easy access to a lively cultural scene and the epicenter of global technology. “We love the location,” says new resident Jennifer Halsey Evans. “We walk to work, meet for lunch in the neighborhood and shop at the best purveyors at the Ferry Building while our children travel independently via public transport. The floor-to-ceiling bay views and outdoor space at elevations this high provide such a unique perspective on city life. It’s amazing to have the best view in the house every day in our own home. We’ll pour a drink and spend the evening observing the tidal patterns, the fog coming in or the city lights coming alive at dusk.”

Adds resident Lisa Malloy: “We chose 181 Fremont for its ease of living in a new building with unmatched quality of construction and finishes. Its boutique number of residences, the contiguous Salesforce Park and location were also strong drivers. It is truly a pleasure to live here in an oasis in the clouds.” 181 Fremont St.


Originally published in the March issue of San Francisco 

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