$407K per unit for 1920s SF apartments with bay view

Eclectic 1920s building has been in the same family for generations

899 Green Street, San Francisco (Compass)
899 Green Street, San Francisco (Compass)

A long-held trophy apartment building overlooking San Francisco Bay from its perch on Russian Hill came to market this week asking $15.5 million.

The five-story 38-unit building was built in 1923 and contains a mix of architectural styles popular during the period.

The exterior of the corner building has ornamental designs around its arched entry doorway and stained glass windows that lend a Gothic Revival look. That church-like style may be responsible for giving 899 Green Street its name: Cloister Apartments. Inside, the dark exposed ceiling beams, white plaster walls and fireplaces in the lobby and some of the units take on more of a Mission Revival feel.

While some 1920s features in the 24 studios and 12 one-bedrooms have been maintained, many of the kitchens have been updated, according to pictures from listing agent Jay Greenberg of Compass. Only two of the 38 units are vacant, according to the listing notes.

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The 25,000-square-foot building has been in the same family for decades, according to public records, with realtor and real estate investor Martin Shiman purchasing the property sometime before his death in 1978. He passed it on to his children, who passed it on to their children in 2007. In 2008, the heirs listed the property for almost $11 million. They lowered the asking price to $10 million in 2009 before removing the listing without a sale.

It returns to market at a time when many longtime mom-and-pop owners are shedding their San Francisco apartment properties, put off by the ever-increasing logistical hurdles of running a rental business in the city, as well as the lower rents and higher vacancies brought on by the pandemic. The rental market has come back recently as a return to work brought tenants back to the city this spring, but the city is one of the few still lagging behind pre-pandemic rents.

Still, signs are looking up for apartment trades in the city after a near-standstill for much of 2020. Deal flow more than doubled in 2021, according to Marcus & Millichap data, with most deals in the under $10-million price range.

Even bigger sales are back on the table. At the end of April, a 30,000-square-foot apartment building overlooking Alamo Square came to market asking $20 million, the biggest building and highest price tag for a multifamily property in the city so far this year. Last week it went into contract and it should close later this month.

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