Battery club founders list home with British pub for $35M

Michael and Xochi Birch put redesigned Billionaire’s Row property on market again

2799 Broadway, San Francisco; Michael and Xochi Birch (Daniel Lunghi, The Battery SF)
2799 Broadway,San Francisco; Michael and Xochi Birch (Daniel Lunghi, The Battery SF)

After a two-year hiatus from the market, Battery social club co-founders Michael and Xochi Birch have relisted their Gold Coast home — complete with a British pub — for $35 million, or about $3,000 per square foot.

The couple first listed their Pacific Heights 12,000-square-foot property in the fall of 2019 for $39 million, after buying it for $29 million in 2008, according to public records. That’s the same year they sold their British social media company Bebo to AOL for $850 million.

Despite the recent drop in the market, the new asking price for 2799 Broadway is “very realistic,” said Sotheby’s agent Deborah Svoboda, who also listed the property the last time around. The house across the street sold off-market for $35 million this summer, and it needs “basically everything” overhauled, she said, while the Birches’ home was completely rebuilt in 2004.

That could mean a $10 million savings in already-completed systems and seismic upgrades, Svoboda said, plus skipping about five years of planning and permitting headaches, while other Gold Coast homes often need considerable work.

“This house is awaiting whatever personal touch you want to put on it, but it is done,” she said.

Before the pandemic, the five-story mansion got two all-cash offers, but neither one ended up working out, Svoboda said. In October 2020, the Birches decided to pull the home off the market and it has been used periodically by them and their extended family in the intervening two years. They spent much of the pandemic in another home they own in the British Virgin Islands and on a large estate in Sonoma. They want to downsize from their six-bedroom San Francisco home since two of their three children are in college, she said, but will always maintain a home in the city since their business is here.

The Birches are co-founders of The Battery, a social club near the Embarcadero. The five-floor former marble factory was redone by interior designer Ken Fulk and opened as an invite-only gathering, dining and bar space in 2013. By that point, Fulk had already redesigned the Birches’ home with one-of-a-kind nods to Michael’s English homeland, like a Union Jack tiled into the office fireplace.

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A photo of the “peacock blue walls” in the home’s formal dining room was chosen for the soon-to-be released book, “More is More is More: Today’s Maximalist Interiors.” In it, Fulk revealed that the high-gloss room required 20 coats in order to “mimic the ever-changing shades of San Francisco Bay just outside the window.”

The designer also turned what had been a kids’ playroom into a very grown-up “man cave,” said Svoboda — a pub that can entertain 50 people comfortably with an antique bar that was once in an English tavern. The Birches also own an actual British pub, a restaurant, a fish and chips shop, a manor home and 90 acres of farmland in a rural village in the English countryside.

“Michael’s just always wanted a pub and he did it,” Svodoba said of the lower-level space, adding that it is a particular hit for male home hunters.

For those who love all the bespoke interiors, Svoboda sais most of the furnishings are available for purchase, though the art may not be for sale. For those who want something a little less maximal, Svoboda said the bones of the home are “pretty traditional” and could be redecorated however the buyer wants.

What won’t change are the panoramic Bay views and the coveted location on “Billionaire’s Row,” which she described as “the most famous three blocks in the San Francisco residential market” and home to almost every sale over $30 million in the city’s history.

“The people who buy here really want to be on those three blocks of Broadway,” Svoboda said. “And they’re willing to pay for it.”

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