A Berkeley Mansion, Empty for a Decade, Hits the Market at $7.5 Million
After sitting vacant for more than a decade, a 12,000-square-foot mansion on three acres in Berkeley, Calif., is again coming on the market. Asking price: $7.5 million.
John Park, the founder of Fortiss, a company that runs casinos and card clubs, purchased the property in 2005 for what he says was about $6.3 million. He'd lived nearby, and when the property came on the market, he jumped. "I was like, You know, I'm going to stay in this area indefinitely," Park said. "Or so I thought."
But the property sat empty; Park moved away to Los Angeles and hired a caretaker do basic maintenance on the Berkeley hills estate. He put it briefly on the market in 2010 and again in 2014, but it failed to sell. In 2015, Park updated the house's mechanical systems, paint, and the skylights. "It's not a full restoration, which would have taken a lot more effort, time, and focus," he said. "Basically, I made it a little more livable." And now he's trying to sell it for a third time.
Potential buyers of the home, which is listed by Herman Chan and Elizabeth Stein of Sotheby's International Realty, will find themselves in possession of a 100-year-old, seven bedroom, six and a half-bath manse with dramatic views of San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. Built in 1914 by a real estate developer named John Hopkins Spring, the home was modeled after Empress Elizabeth of Austria's Achilleion Palace in Corfu. After Spring, the house was occupied by a school for close to 50 years. It was then purchased by yet another real estate developer, who lived in it for 30 years. Park is just the fourth owner in the house's history.
The entry to the home leads to a double-height atrium with a massive staircase leading to the upper floors. (The bedrooms are upstairs, the entertaining rooms, downstairs.) There's a living room, dining room, and billiard room covered in tapestries, plus vaulted passageways, coffered ceilings, and wood detailing in a fairly eclectic array of architectural vernaculars.
The grounds surrounding the house are diminished—at the time it was built it sat on 16 manicured acres, filled with rose gardens and allées—and whoever buys the now 3-acre property will probably have to opt for a large-scale landscaping project. There is still a tennis court on the grounds (admittedly in need of repair) and a few guest houses, which Park says "aren't livable."
"I went to see it about two weeks ago, to see how it was staged," Park said. "I was really, really impressed."