411 and 425 San Gorgonio, Point Loma, 92106
Current owner: Sharon Zell
Listing Price: $5,000,000
This week’s estate is perched atop a hill, just a few blocks from the San Diego Bay in the Point Loma neighborhood of La Playa. Included with the 5020-square-foot home’s five bedrooms and seven baths is an additional 290-square-foot cabana not included in the official square footage and an adjacent vacant lot, making the property size over half an acre — something of a rarity in such an urban locale.
Architect and interior designer Sharon Zell bought the run-down 1951-built home (which, according to records, had been rebuilt once in 1993) at 411 San Gorgonio in 2002 and spent the next two years remodeling; in 2011 and 2012, she expanded it to its current size. According to a March 2013 profile in San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles magazine, the project included the addition of a north wing with a basement and two stories, plus a garage expansion.
“No expense was spared, especially when it came to the wood and stone amenities,” notes Home/Garden Lifestyles. “Two examples are the living room’s marble fireplace, where halogen spotlights call attention to glass sculptures in niches on either side, and the family room fireplace made of solid eighth-inch silicon bronze.”
Interior features include white-oak flooring, a locally made front door, and a floating staircase with triangular treads and a solid bronze rail. All of the cabinet doors and drawer faces, as well as the wood veneer and interior doors, were made at Zell’s woodworking shop in Sun Valley, Idaho from “Anigre, Afromosia, Fiddleback Maple, European Pearwood and other exotic materials,” according to one of the home’s listings.
The slope of the lot means views of the bay, Shelter Island, Coronado, and downtown are afforded from nearly every window, including in the master bedroom’s walk-in closet. Floor-to-ceiling windows are used extensively throughout the home, and several sets of 20-foot glass doors fold open to create a seamless indoor/outdoor living environment.
Outside, patios on several different levels offer the same views, as does the pool and spa area and a covered outdoor kitchen area.
With work done on the house and surrounding grounds, Zell focused on the vacant lot at 425 San Gorgonio that she’d acquired in 2007 for $1 million.
“I saw an article about food banks in San Diego that featured a well-dressed couple in line getting food. It broke my heart,” Zell told the Point Loma Association in the group’s 2012 fall newsletter in explaining her motivation for starting the Point Loma Hope Garden.
She had the 10,000-square-foot lot graded, installed sheds and a patio area with a shade cover and picnic bench seating, and opened the plot on an invitation basis to form a semi-public garden. Zell’s rule: any food produced on the ground’s 16 plots not consumed directly by the gardeners would be donated to charity.
The garden’s now-dormant website reports at least two deliveries, one to the St. Vincent de Paul Village in May 2012 and another to an assortment of groups in July 2012.
The residence and its 15,900-square-foot lot is being offered for sale in conjunction with the extra lot next door, which has its own tax parcel number and could later be sold separately to a buyer wishing to build a new house on the property. The home is now listed for sale for $3,950,000, or $5,000,000 with the extra lot. It originally went up for sale in early 2013 but did not sell at the initial $4,295,000 list price. The lot is available on its own for $1,500,000, though in recent years it’s been offered several times for as little as $1,350,000 and as high as $2,495,000, each time failing to attract a buyer.