For the first time, the only private island in San Francisco Bay has been put up for sale for $25 million.
“Red Rock Island has long fascinated me as a mysterious and sought-after gem in the San Francisco Bay,” listing agent Chris Lim of Christie’s International Real Estate said in a statement. “When the seller contacted me to help me find a new guardian for the island, I spent a day at this private sanctuary. I felt an undeniable connection to Northern California: the rugged landscape, the unspoiled beaches, and the mesmerizing deep blue waters.
Red Rock Island has previously been unofficially available for sale, but the property just hit the MLS for the first time. MLS is the real estate sales database used by brokers.
The island was first inhabited by Russian fur traders in the early 1800s. Later, Selim Woodworth, a former California legislator and son of 19th-century poet Samuel Woodworth, became the only known resident, according to information provided by Christie’s. Woodworth built a cabin on the island and used it as a hunting preserve.
The seller, Brock Durning, is retired and has lived in Alaska for several decades, according to Christie’s and the Wall Street Journal. Durning’s late father was granted ownership of Red Rock Island by a business partner who purchased the property for $50,000 in the 1960s.
“It has always been part of the family, like a vacation home,” Durning said in a Christie’s release.
When Durning’s family lived in nearby San Leandro, they sailed to the island for a private getaway, pitching tents, hiking and fishing. Durning decided to sell so he could pay for his mother’s care as she ages, Christie’s said.
Situated on approximately 6 acres near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge north of San Francisco, Red Rock Island is only accessible by boat or helicopter. There is a sandy beach on the east side of the island and a rockier shoreline to the south and west. Grassy paths lead to the top of the island’s dome.
The island was used for mining manganese, a mineral that gives the soil a reddish color, according to Christie’s.
Lim told the Wall Street Journal that the buyer could either preserve the island as it is or build something there, although there would be no electricity or drinking water. Solar panels could provide electricity and desalination systems could provide water.
Red Rock Island spans three distinct Bay Area counties and is zoned differently in each: residential in San Francisco, industrial in Contra Costa, and general use in Marin.
Construction would require the owner to go through the permitting process in each county.
Durning said various proposals over the years have included a conservation effort, developing a hotel, marina or residence there, or using the island in construction of a highway. There was also talk that the island could be purchased to host a Playboy Club.