Don’t go chasing waterfalls... well, maybe this one.
Back in 1948, a group of outdoor-loving professors at San Diego State College got together with a handful of other prominent local professionals. The group wanted to mate a pair of desires: city living and country space, with enough room for horseback riding and other outdoor activities.
If you’re ever bored... there’s shuffleboard!
What they came up with was Alvarado Estates, a private gated community comprising a few square miles just west of the college campus on the hills sloping down into Mission Valley from Montezuma Mesa. At the time, the area was the site of a private airport and a single residence. The new homesites, keeping with the open space theme, would occupy at least one acre. (Lots in the area at the time ranged from a sixth to as small as a tenth of an acre.) None of the homes were to protrude more than a single story above street level, keeping the community modest in appearance even if the mansions that would eventually spring up were anything but.
According to the neighborhood’s website, early investors met in the college cafeteria to draw numbers out of a hat, thus determining who got first pick among the lots in the first subdivision. While originally priced at less than $5000, demand (and prices) quickly grew, and eventually the site became home to 129 parcels, overtaking and consuming the old airport.
The main access point to the Estates is Yerba Buena Drive, and listing materials retrieved from Zillow declare the estate at 4605 Yerba Buena the largest residence in the enclave.
“This palatial estate boasts over 15,000 square feet of unparalleled luxury and exquisite finishes,” gushes the listing for this eight-bedroom, eleven-bath behemoth constructed in 2000.
The “open concept prestigious domain” features “an abundance of natural light, flawless flow from each room to the next, massive 40-foot ceilings, a private gym, hidden bar,” and an “extended balcony overlooking an oversized four-acre lot,” which is among the larger spaces in the development.
The entry hall is mammoth, but spartan. Yes, the ceilings are very tall, but this huge room seems empty, save for a handful of animal sculptures and potted plants. Perhaps it could be filled by a crowd of wealthy university donors served by an army of tuxedoed waiters bearing appetizers and champagne flutes on silver trays.
The rest of the interior is modern. Grey and brown tones cover the walls and floor. There’s a nice gas fireplace at the bottom of a huge marble wall in the living room that is spacious enough to effortlessly fit a full grand piano. The 800-square-foot main bedroom features a private balcony looking not out, but in — at the giant hall below. The kitchen is very large, and so is the adjacent dining room where the table has at least a dozen place settings. So far, it seems the home is making up for a lack of unique luxury appointments through the sheer blunt force of its overwhelming mass.
The stone-topped “hidden bar” is a luxurious touch, though, its shape reminiscent of the bar in a movie theater lobby. And the gym is well equipped, with a wall of windows overlooking Mission Valley below. There’s even an indoor shuffleboard court, it seems.
In back, the outdoorsy theme sought by the original Alvarado Estates residents begins to shine.
The estate’s “monumental sports court” has a full regulation tennis court along with four basketball hoops to host multiple games at once. There’s a “lavish full-sized luxury pool and lounge” sitting next to the “state-of-the-art 2000-square-foot guest home fit for a king with a full-sized master kitchen.”
But the real beauty is the “custom designed two-story calming waterfall,” complete with pond and glowing light fixtures. As the listing claims, relaxing through sunset at the base of the falls really “screams luxury style living.”
Public records show the Yerba Buena estate’s current owner to be Leonard Bloom, a sports executive who’s owned a host of teams, including the American Basketball Association’s San Diego Conquistadors (repurchased by the league so the ABA could merge with the NBA in 1976), the Los Angeles Sharks of the World Hockey Association (no relation to today’s San Jose Sharks), and the San Diego Swingers, a World Team Tennis side (that never actually played in San Diego, spending three seasons instead as the Hawaii Leis). Bloom also consulted on several major stadium projects including the Superdome in New Orleans.
Several attempts have been made to sell the Alvarado Estates home in recent years, with prices ranging from $5 to $14.5 million. Its current listing, which went active in late March, carries an asking price of $11,999,000.
- 4605 Yerba Buena | San Diego, 92115
- Beds: 8 | Baths: 11 | Current Owner: Leonard Bloom | List Price: $11,999,000