San Francisco’s exclusive private island has recently entered the market, priced at a substantial £20.6 million – a significant investment requiring readiness for its basic conditions.
Boasting breathtaking panoramic views and exquisite natural beauty, this expensive parcel of land is, however, devoid of essential utilities like running water and electricity.
Spanning an area of approximately six acres, Red Rock Island is devoid of any built structures and is only reachable via boat or helicopter.
Located adjacent to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to the north of San Francisco, the island features a sandy beach on its eastern side, a more rugged coastline to the south and west, and paths leading to its grass-covered, domed summit.
The estate agent in charge mentioned that the potential new owner might choose to either maintain the island’s untouched state or undertake construction – but would need to establish water and electricity supplies.
Initially settled by Russian fur traders in the early 19th century, the island’s only known inhabitant was Selim Woodworth, a former California Senator and son of esteemed 19th-century poet Samuel Woodworth. Woodworth erected a cabin and managed a hunting ground on the island.
The present seller, Brock Durning, a retired resident of Alaska, inherited the island from his late father, who received it from his business associate. This associate had acquired the uninhabited island for less than £41,000 in the 1960s.
During the 19th century, the island served as a site for manganese mining, a mineral responsible for its distinctive reddish hue, thus its name.
Remnants of abandoned mining tunnels still exist on the island, and it once had a fog bell positioned on a rocky protrusion.
The seller’s father was informed by the Coast Guard that they would no longer maintain the bell, leading to its eventual transfer of ownership to him.
Family stories hint at the bell’s mysterious disappearance following an incident where a Chevron barge broke free. After a salvage team was sent to recover the barge, the bell was nowhere to be found.
Red Rock Island falls within the jurisdictions of three different Bay Area counties. According to the owner, San Francisco has zoned it residential, Contra Costa for industrial purposes, and Marin for General Use.
Past proposals for the island included conservation efforts, development into a hotel, marina, or residence, and the removal of rock from its peak for use in highway construction.
In the 1970s, there was talk of buying the island to build a Playboy Club.
Another concept involved developing the island with facilities like a wedding chapel, geodesic domes, a marina, and a helicopter pad, but these plans never materialized.
Estate agent Chris Lim from Christie’s International Real Estate shared, “Red Rock Island has always intrigued me as a mysterious and coveted treasure in the San Francisco Bay.
“Having the opportunity to aid the seller in finding a new steward for the island, I spent a day in this private retreat.
“The experience reaffirmed my bond with Northern California – its rugged terrain, pristine beaches, and the captivating deep blue of the waters.”
As a child, the seller’s family, residing in nearby San Leandro in the East Bay, used Red Rock Island as a retreat, setting up tents on the beach and enjoying hiking and fishing.
Having lived in Alaska for the past 22 years, the seller has not visited the island in a long time and is now selling it to secure financial resources to support his aging mother.
The island is currently on the market for £20.6 million.