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Former $1.3 million Dolores Heights home offered as $2.89 million (unbuilt) dream home

The oldest question: How much is enough?

To the naked eye, 3790-3792 21st Street appears to be a perfectly respectable Dolores Heights duplex.

The entire building is two stories and 1,500 square feet, dating to 1929. It’s nothing special, but it did sell in 2014 for $1.3 million; less than average for the neighborhood, but still nothing to be ashamed of.

Since summer, though, it’s been right back on the market. Or, more precisely, the house it could be is on the market. Owner Mahmoud Larizadeh and architect Bill Egan evidently see the present building as wasted potential.

Earlier this year, the city approved plans to upgrade the house to four livable stories (adding an entirely new one up top as well as converting the basement) and well over 4,000 square feet.

On top of that, the home’s present, mostly nondescript facade would transform into a cubist design replete with glass banisters on the balconies, designed to "stand out from the crowd" as the advertising promises.

Mind you, those updates haven’t been built yet. Instead, the existing, more humble house is on the market, bundled with its entitlements and plans, to the tune of $2.89 million.

At first glance, it’s a steep offer. Why pay more than double the most recent fair market price just for the privilege of spending even more to build someone else’s plans?

For that matter, why the overhaul in the first place? Sure, the existing house looks nothing special, but it’s not exactly a teardown. Couldn’t these millions be spent saving a truly troubled property rather than running up the price on this one?

Well, at least one present tenant thinks the new floorplan would be worthwhile. In a letter to the Planning Department back in March, renter Motaz Zagha notes that the duplex is full of "wasted and uninhabitable space," including a "strange walk-in closet/hallway arrangement."

Zagha also notes that "I am at a loss why neighbors unaffected by the layout would interject their opinion." Zagha had only been living in Dolores Heights for a year back then, so perhaps there’s now been time for certain lessons about pricey San Francisco neighborhoods to sink in.

Will anyone go for it? The offer has been lingering for two months now. The average Dolores Heights homes sells for $2.2 million these days (as Paragon Real Estate reckons it), so the case that this property could stand to improve its lot might have some meat on its bones. If only someone with the right shared vision comes along...