For the first time ever, the only privately owned island in San Francisco Bay has been listed 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 approached by the seller to assist in finding a new caretaker for the island, I spent a day on this private sanctuary. I felt an undeniable connection to Northern California – the rugged landscape, unspoiled beaches, and the deep, mesmerizing blue waters.”
Red Rock Island has been unofficially available for sale before, but the property just hit the MLS for the first time. MLS is the property sales database used by brokers.
The island was first inhabited by Russian fur traders in the early 1800s. Later, Selim Woodworth, former California senator and son of the 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 a couple 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 had bought the property for $50,000 in the 1960s.
“It was always part of the family, like a vacation house,” Durning said in a statement from Christie’s.
When Durning’s family lived nearby in San Leandro, they sailed out to the island for a private getaway, pitching tents and hiking and fishing. Durning decided to sell so he would be able to pay for the care of his mother as she ages, Christie’s said.
Located on roughly six acres near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, north of San Francisco, California, Red Rock Island is accessible only by boat or helicopter. There is a sandy beach on the east side of the island and a rockier shoreline on the south and west. Grassy trails lead to the dome top of the island.
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 on it, although there is no electricity or drinking water. Solar panels could provide power and desalination systems could provide the water.
Red Rock Island spans three separate Bay Area counties, and is zoned differently in each: residential in San Francisco, industrial in Contra Costa and general use in Marin.
Building would require the owner to navigate the permitting process in each county.
Durning said various proposals through the years included a conservation effort, developing a hotel, marina or residence there, or using the island as part of a highway construction. There was also talk that the island could be bought for accommodating a Playboy Club.