308 GOLDEN GATE
8 Beds • 6 Full, 3 Half Baths • $11,495,000
308 Golden Gate, Belvedere, CA 94920
Stately 308 Golden Gate Avenue is one of the most admired homes on Belvedere Island for its Italianate villa styling, expansive views, extensive gardens and the gorgeous ceramic-tiled pool. It is located on the desirable warm (east) side of the island and gets all-day sun.
The home is designated as an Historic Property by the City of Belvedere and enjoys a significant property tax reduction (see below).
- Spectacular bay views from the top of Belvedere Island
- 8 Bedrooms
- 6 Full Bathrooms (the 2 master bathrooms share a shower), 2 half baths (one is being converted to a full bath), 1 poolside half bath.
- Beautiful custom-designed kitchen with eat-in breakfast area, balcony and expansive bay view.
- Generously sized Master Suite with separate his and her dressing/sitting areas, closets and bathrooms, and a steam shower.
- 8 rooms open onto balconies with bay views.
- 2 sunrooms
- Wine Cellar
- 2-car detached garage plus adjacent carport. Additional parking on street.
- Extensive multi-level gardens with mature and varied plantings
- 5 wood-burning fireplaces
- Entry courtyard with fountain
- Large ceramic-tiled pool with automated cover
- Street-to-street lot
- Virtually every room in the house is wired with 3 lines of CAT-6 for high-speed, secure broadband communications
- Security system
- 2 laundry rooms
- Extensive storage
- Two 75-gallon water heaters provide ample hot water for the whole house
- Two new furnaces for the main living quarters are less than 2 years old; there is a separate furnace and thermostat for the office/au pair/in-law quarters
- Three separate entrances and multiple living spaces can accommodate many variations of home / multi-generational household / home offices.
- Whole-house water filtration system with recent addition of a UV anti-viral component serves every faucet and shower in the house.
- Walk right out your front door to experience Belvedere’s charming hillside stairways and winding streets for the ideal combination of outdoor exercise with fresh air and breathtaking views.
- From the entire east side of the house, be perpetually entertained by the nesting hawks, barking sea lions, Friday evening sailing regattas and youth sailing school.
- Really nice neighbors.
- The City of Belvedere passed a resolution to underground the utility wires and poles in front of the house, and the utility boxes have already been placed in the ground. The project should be completed soon.
Significant Property Tax Savings through the Mills Act Agreement
In June 2021, the owners signed a Mills Act Agreement with the City of Belvedere. This entitles the property to enjoy significant property tax savings for a period of 15 years effective as of January 1, 2022. This benefit results from the home’s designation as an Historic Property.
Marin County has provided a projection of the amount of tax savings that could be realized by a new owner as a result of the Mills Act Agreement. Assuming a $12,250,000 purchase price, the projected tax savings is $537,495 over the first five years (2022-2026) and $729,933 over the entire 15-year period. The actual figures will vary based upon the rate of growth in property values, interest rates and other factors as determined by the County as part of its regular annual assessment process.
The Mills Act Agreement requires the owner to preserve and maintain the property so as to “retain its characteristics of historical and architectural significance.” Since the home had two extensive remodels (in the 1980’s and again in 2008) prior to its historical certification, the number of historically significant features is already quite limited and in the view of the City, would likely be primarily focused on the exterior look and feel of the property.
The Mills Act Agreement is renewable on an annual basis unless canceled by either the Owner or the City. Thus, by giving proper notice to the City, an owner who wants to make renovations that would exceed those allowed by the Agreement would only need to cancel the Agreement with proper notice to the City. Absent cancellation by the property owner, the City of Belvedere’s policy is to keep its Mills Act Agreements in effect for 15 years.
Thus, the Mills Act Agreement grants a very significant financial benefit to any new owner, but does not bar a new owner from changing the property to their heart’s content, provided proper noticing is done as explained in the Mills Act Agreement. A full copy of the Agreement is available upon request.
This property comes with an assumable mortgage. The principal balance is just under $4 million. The current interest rate (through February 2022) is 2.875% and the monthly payment is $15,116.
Effective March 1, 2022, the rate will reset to either an adjustable or fixed rate, at the borrower’s choice, based upon an index. The remaining term at that point will be 34 years for the adjustable-rate option, or 29 years for the fixed-rate option. Details of the mortgage options are available upon request.
It is our present understanding that a buyer does not have to qualify to assume the mortgage. We are seeking confirmation on this.
Probably one of the most beautifully designed and executed kitchens in Northern California. The entire eastern wall opens up at the breakfast area, revealing an enchanting view including two yacht club harbors (San Francisco and Corinthian Yacht Clubs), the Mediterranean-style homes of Corinthian island, San Francisco Bay and Raccoon Straits, Angel Island and a continually-changing panorama of boating activity. The view from this room has been compared to that of coastal Portofino.
All countertops and part of the backsplash are Calacatta Oro marble including the 10’6’’ x 3’4” center island. This marble would be difficult to obtain today due to the high content of the warm “gold” accent coloration.
Extensive custom cabinetry to meet a large variety of storage needs for dishes, linens, trays, vases, etc.
Two pantries plus a broom closet.
Exterior entrance for kitchen staff.
“Thermador Professional” range with two ovens, six gas burners and a center griddle.
“Miele Oven & Broiler” – with master chef automated cooking program and rotisserie.
“Miele Steam Oven” – fully computerized.
“Sharp Microwave Drawer” installed in center island.
Two “Miele Optima Series” dishwashers.
“Sub-Zero 736TZ Refrigerator” with two separate freezer drawers and ice maker.
“Sub-Zero 700BR” two-drawer refrigerator for vegetables and cold drinks installed in the center island.
“U-Line Wine Cooler” installed in center island.
Two sinks, each with “instant hot” water dispensers.
All water in the house (including all showers) is filtered by a high-end whole-house water filtration system which was recently upgraded to include the infrared option designed to kill viruses.
Three-part recycling station built into the center island provides easy separation and out-of-the-way storage for paper, glass/plastic/metal, and regular garbage.
The third floor received extensive remodeling as part of the 2009 upgrade.
Two-thirds of this floor comprises the owners’ private quarters. This includes:
The generously sized Master Bedroom has a fireplace and features dual bedside remote lighting controls. New Marvin windows were installed with STC glass for soundproofing. The spaces between the wall studs were filled with sound-deadening material. All sheetrock was replaced by “Hard Rock” (ten times denser than normal sheetrock). Custom silk drapes include blackout lining. Both his and her closets are separate from the master bedroom, enabling disturbance-free sleep for both parties.
The Lady’s Dressing Room has its own balcony overlooking the garden. This room opens up to a sunroom with spectacular views to the east, and a fully-equipped breakfast bar including refrigerator, sink, enclosed recycling center and a dishwasher drawer, and a seating area. The dressing room has been pre-wired for a chandelier.
From the Lady’s Dressing Room, enter the Lady’s Closet, which includes lockable drawers for jewelry.
The Gentleman’s Dressing Room/Den has a balcony overlooking the fountain and main entrance to the property.
The Master Bath consists of two separate bathrooms connected by a large marble Steam Shower with bay view. The shower comes with separate “His and Hers” preset temperature controls for the “Rain Shower” and Standard Wall Shower heads. In addition, there is a hand-held shower. There is a marble bench for use during the steam option. The solid-slab Calacatta Oro marble floors have separate in-floor heating elements for both his side and her side of the master bath.
The Lady’s Bath is equipped with a wall-mounted, electrified makeup mirror (5x magnification) and a free-standing cast-iron bathtub by Waterworks. The mural over the tub replicates the “Aurora” figure from the famous ceiling fresco “Aurora” which Guido Reni painted between 1613 and 1614, and which can be viewed to the present day in the Palazzo Pallavicini in Rome. http://www.casinoaurorapallavicini.it/eng/Frescoes.htm
The house has a 16-channel video security system which is currently using five exterior cameras focused on the front entrance and three primary gates. Proximity sensors trigger exterior lights at various locations for night-time recording of all visitors.
The property is fully fenced (primarily against the deer population.)
Interior security is extensive and can be reviewed on request. The house was redesigned to serve as a reasonably secure diplomatic or executive residence.
The current owners are reasonably tech-savvy and virtually every room in the house is wired with 3 lines of CAT-6 cable for high-speed, secure broadband communications. Everything is coordinated through a central server room.
The cabling system allows you to set up secure, hard-wired, real-time video monitoring of virtually all children’s play areas – both interior and exterior.
Exterior Spaces: Gardens, Patios, Grassy Lawn and Swimming Pool
Extensive gardens with mature plantings provide year-round greenery and color.
- In winter: 3 ornamental cherry trees, magnolias, camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons.
- In spring: roses, lilies, sweet jasmine, dogwood, princess flowers, azaleas, rhododendrons.
- In summer: glorious and abundant hydrangeas, peaches, lemons, and more roses and azaleas.
- In autumn: Japanese maples.
Upper brick patio with bay view, shaded by a magnificent oak tree.
Large lower curved brick patio with expansive bay view and adjoining level grass lawn play area.
Plaster garden walls, newly painted, wind down from the large brick patio to the pool area.
The pool (35’ x 16’) has been converted to a non-chemical “Salt Water” purification system with a key-controlled automated cover.
There is a private (meditation) garden tucked behind the pool.
Half bath adjoining the pool.
Main Floor (main entry level or Second Floor):
Includes Entry Foyer, Living Room, Dining Room, Family Room, Kitchen, Den/Media Room, and powder room with hand-painted wall mural. Hardwood floors throughout this level.
The Dining Room has been pre-wired for a chandelier.
The Living Room includes a Juliet balcony that overlooks the garden.
Third Floor (Master Bedroom Level, one level above the entry level):
In addition to the Master Suite (described above), this floor contains two additional fully renovated bedrooms.
The West bedroom was updated with custom bookcase cabinetry and storage. This bedroom is currently being used as the “Lady’s Office” and has a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The East bedroom has an adjoining climate-controlled sunroom with spectacular Bay views.
These two bedrooms are connected by a half-bath which is currently in the process of being converted to a full bath with a tub/shower combo.
(A second full laundry room is available on the first floor next to the Maid’s/Au pair suite.)
The top floor is currently set up as a multi-functional space for children, teens or guests. Each of the two bedrooms has a fireplace and French doors opening onto one large balcony with stunning views of San Francisco Bay. This floor also contains a large bathroom with skylight, large cedar closet with deep storage, separate cedar closet for storage of suitcases etc., a desk/homework area with CAT-6 internet wiring, and a separate sitting area.
The roof line could be lifted on the western side, with no impediment to neighbors’ views, to create additional living space and an expanded view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The bottom floor has two separate living units, an Au Pair/Maid’s room with full bath and private deck. This unit is adjacent to the second laundry room and has its own private entrance.
The second unit on this floor is an in-law suite with two rooms, full bath, walk-in closet, kitchenette and access to its own wrap-around deck
overlooking the gardens and bay. It also has its own private entrance. This unit is currently being used by the owners as a working office.
This floor also contains a third full bath with sauna.
And a wine storage room.
And two massive storage areas with a built-in dehumidifier.
Additional spaces (with exterior access only):
A large half-basement Storage and Tool Room houses two hot water tanks with water recirculation, and a whole-house water filtration unit designed to purge virtually all chemicals and pollutants from the city water source. This system was recently upgraded with an infrared element designed to kill viruses and a wide range of bacteria.
The Bonus Room was originally used as a game room on the lower northeastern corner of the house. It has been repurposed as a “Video Production Studio.” It has its own separate entrance and tiled balcony.
The home’s first owner was Edward B. Jennings, of the wholesale grocer Hooper & Jennings in San Francisco. The home stayed in the Jennings family for 49 years (from 1907 until 1956), when it was acquired by Admiral Morton D. Willcutts, who enjoyed an illustrious career with the U.S. Navy.
Admiral Willcutts was a surgeon who served at various times as the head of the U.S. Naval Hospitals at Bethesda, MD and at San Diego, CA. He is best known for heading up an inquiry into the sudden and controversial death of the first U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal, who plunged to his death from his 16th-story room at Bethesda Naval Hospital (with the belt of his dressing gown drawn around his neck) during Admiral Willcutts’ tenure as head of that hospital. Admiral Willcutts’ final position was chief medical officer at San Quentin State Prison, and it was during that time that he owned and lived at 308 Golden Gate Avenue, from 1956-1976.
The home was extensively remodeled in the late 1980’s with a new foundation, extensive red brick hardscape, gardens, extensively engineered retaining walls, and a 25’ x 16’ ceramic-tiled pool. All major retaining walls were secured directly to bedrock. In 2008-2009 the house underwent a major interior renovation plus the addition of three balconies.