Former Apple design guru buys theater in SF’s Jackson Square for $60M

Jony Ive pays nearly $1,700 psf for latest piece in his block-sized collection of properties

Jony Ive pays $1,700 psf for latest piece in his block-sized collection of properties near Jackson Square.
LoveFrom's Jony Ive with 535 Pacific Avenue (Getty, Google Maps)

A company linked to former Apple designer Jony Ive has bought an historic office building in San Francisco’s Jackson Square for $59.7 million.

535 Pacific LLC, an affiliate of Ive’s LoveFrom, purchased the 35,200-square-foot Little Fox Theatre building at 535 Pacific Avenue, the San Francisco Examiner reported.

The 117-year-old brick-and-timber building was sold by the Clint Reilly Organization, run by real estate investor Clint Reilly, owner of the Examiner. Reilly bought the former theater in 1991 for about $4 million, or about $114 per square foot, according to CoStar.

The recent deal works out to $1,695 per square foot. Its assessed value is $6.6 million, or $188 per square foot. Its sale price is above the going rate for commercial properties in Jackson Square, including two buildings that sold for $279 and $446 per square foot last quarter.

The purchase gives Ive, a resident of Jackson Square, almost an entire block in the historic district dating back to the Barbary Coast era.

Since 2020, Ive and LoveFrom have spent $78 million on five properties in the Jackson Square block bordered by Columbus and Pacific avenues, and Montgomery and Jackson streets.

In August 2020, Ive and LoveFrom bought a two-story, 11,900-square-foot building, built in 1906 at 809 Montgomery, for $8.5 million. In August 2021, they bought a four-story, 33,000-square-foot building, built in 1907 at 112 Columbus Avenue, for $17 million. In November 2021, they bought an 8,200-square-foot building, built in 1925 at 831 Montgomery, for $10 million, according to the Examiner.

Early last year, Ive and LoveFrom paid $38 million for a two-story,13,600-square-foot building at 807 Montgomery. Then in December, they picked up a 3,500-square-foot storefront, built in 1911, for $4.1 million.

Ive, the design wizard behind the iPhone, iPod and the candy-colored iMac, left Apple in 2019. The same year, he founded LoveFrom, a design firm that has since worked with Apple, Airbnb and Ferrari, among other companies, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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The British born Ive, after arriving in San Francisco in 1989, immediately fell in love with Jackson Square, North Beach and Chinatown, according to a May 2022 essay for the Financial Times. He was knighted in 2012 and is formally named Sir Jonathan Ive.

He said he felt a debt of gratitude to the neighborhood. LoveFrom, the creative collective he formed with Marc Newson, made Jackson Square its home.

“We have dreams and plans for our buildings and our studio, but that’s for another time,” Ive wrote.

The Little Fox Theater building, built in 1907, features brass doors and box office salvaged from the Fox Theatre movie palace, demolished in 1963.  Decades later, Jackson Square became a hotspot for venture capital firms.

The Little Fox Theatre building is “perhaps best known as the location in which Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas edited elements of films like ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘American Graffiti,’” the Clint Reilly firm says on its website.

Its sale marks the second time this year that Reilly has cut his real estate holdings in San Francisco, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Last month, Reilly, a former political consultant who also owns the Nob Hill Gazette, sold his 5,200-square-foot Sea Cliff mansion at 870 El Camino Del Mar for $14.5 million. Since last fall,  Reilly and his wife, Janet, have listed their 130-acre Napa estate for $22 million. 

— Dana Bartholomew

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