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Tech CEO can’t sell $5.19M condo next to Dolores Park, says he’ll return it to developer

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Founder of Hive social network calls real estate snafu “a truly humbling experience”

The exterior of the former Church of Christ Scientist, now The Lighthouse townhouses.
The Lighthouse in the Mission District.
Photo by Wally Gobetz

In 2016, Ryan Allis, CEO of Hive, a social network for wealthy and influential people, paid $6.49 million for a townhouse in the historic Lighthouse building, converted from a former church across the street from Dolores Park.

According to Allis’s recent confessional on Facebook, he intended to use the three-bedroom, three-bathroom, roughly 5,500-square-foot home as a “prototype Hive Community Center” for “co-working and co-living.”

But the city considered his plan a commercial venture in a building zoned only for residential living, so the powers that be quashed the idea.

When Allis couldn’t secure zoning exceptions, he put the condo back on the market in April 2017, asking more than $6.79 million.

As Curbed SF noted at the time, “The mishmash of material—period brickwork and woodwork, contemporary glass and steel—keep the property in an indefinite state of dissonance. Which can be a good thing depending on one’s tastes.”

It seems there really is no accounting for taste, because despite its remarkable interiors, 651 Dolores didn’t sell.

“It’s 24 months later and the home STILL hasn’t sold—in San Francisco—during the best economic times in 20 years and with a wave of SF tech IPOs like Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, Slack, and Pinterest,” a slightly shocked Allis writes.

The CEO blames the disinterest on the building’s unique design, which, while gorgeous, is highly niche in its appeal.

So I have a good story to tell... There's a very special property I'd like to keep in the family of close tribe... In...

Posted by Ryan Allis on Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Allis started cutting the home’s price, and by May of 2019 it dropped to $5.49 million. One month later, the asking price chipped down to $5.19 million.

Now, unable to keep up the mortgage on the place, Allis says he’s taking the extraordinary step of giving it back to the developers, even forfeiting his $2 million down payment and all other costs put into the home.

His Facebook essay is a final assay to see if anybody wants to go in and buy it at its latest, highly discounted price.

The Lighthouse, formerly the Second Church of Christ Scientist, dates to 1915 and was designed by architect William H. Crim, who gave it its signature dome and neoclassical look.

After being condemned in 2006, the townhouse conversion preserved much of the building’s still-extant materials, and two of the four units (including this one) first listed in 2016 for a whopping $6.4 million.