Tech CEO buys coffee magnate’s former Presidio Heights mansion for $12.25M
Proceeds will be donated to wildlife and animal preservation causes in the Bay Area
A 6,400-square-foot home with ties to a historic San Francisco family recently sold to tech CEO Vignan Velivela for $12.25 million.
Velivela is a co-founder of AtoB, with offices in the former Hills Bros. Coffee factory on the Embarcadero, which bills itself as “Stripe for transportation” and just raised $25 million in Series A funding in June. Velivela’s new Presidio Heights mansion was owned by Hills Bros. coffee heir Herbert Gray Hills and his socialite wife Winifred from the late 1940s until Hills’ death in 1964.
Listing agent Karen Mendelsohn Gould called the tech CEO’s decision to live and work in former Hills family properties “a rare and whimsical opportunity” in a statement to the San Francisco Business Times.
The Compass agent listed the 1937 home just after Labor Day for $12.9 million and it was in contract by mid-October. The 7-bedroom, 7.5-bath property closed last week and all of the proceeds will be donated to eight wildlife preservation and animal conservation organizations in the Bay Area. The longtime owners are deceased and their trust is bequeathing the proceeds, according to a Compass rep.
Even at more than $12 million, the sale doesn’t make it into the top 20 San Francisco single-family deals for the year; it takes closer to $20 million to break into the top 5 and several mansions are listed for more than that. No other 2021 single-family close is likely to top the $43.5 million April sale for a Pacific Heights mansion that was also previously owned by members of the Hills family.
The Hills began roasting coffee beans by the bay in the 1870s and invented vacuum packaging in 1900. (Folger’s also started in San Francisco even earlier, in 1850.) In 1925, the company constructed its brick home office and plant at 2 Harrison Street at the Embarcadero in what is now the Rincon Hill neighborhood. It remained family owned until 1985, when it was purchased by Nestle.
The San Francisco headquarters closed in 1997 and two years later the company was sold to Sara Lee. It has been owned by Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA, which also bought coffee brands like Chock full o’ Nuts and Kauai Coffee, since 2005.
The landmarked building still bears its famous Hills Bros. Coffee sign; the 230,000-square-foot space has recently housed tenants like Google, Mozilla and Wharton San Francisco.