A Piece Of The San Francisco Bay Could Be Yours For $25 Million


The only private island in San Francisco Bay is up for a sale with a $25 million price tag. Red Rock Island is a six-acre vacant hill just off the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge north of the city. 

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It’s the real estate equivalent of an antique car with no engine — it’s nice to look at but it’s going to take a lot of work to make it useful.

The only private island in San Francisco Bay is up for sale with a $25 million price tag, offering the chance to own one of the most unique parcels in the Bay Area.

Red Rock Island, as it is known, is a vacant, rocky domed hill spanning about six acres just off the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge just north of San Francisco. 

The island is zoned for residential use, but anyone interested in building on it has a daunting task ahead of them. The island’s terrain is perilously uneven, and owners will have to confront the inherent challenges of transporting construction equipment to an island, which is only accessible by boat or helicopter but does not have a dock.

There are significant bureaucratic hurdles to face as well. The island is technically within three counties: San Francisco, Marin and Contra Costa, each of which has its own building codes that need to be complied with. The future owner would also need to work within the guidelines of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission regulations, which regulate all development in the bay.


The island has been owned by seller Brock Durning’s family for decades, according to the Wall Street JournalIt has been unofficially listed for sale in the past for between $5 million and $22 million and there have been attempts to conserve the island as a bird habitat or develop it as a marina or hotel. Its re-listing in November represents the first time the property has been listed on a multiple listing service.

“In my mind, this is a Mark Rothko. This is a Leonardo da Vinci,” listing agent Chris Lim of Christie’s International Real Estate told the Journal. “This is about collectible real estate.”


Durning told the newspaper his father was gifted the island by his business partner, David Glickman, who purchased it for less than $50,000 in the 1960s before moving to Thailand. His family used the island for hiking, fishing and camping excursions when he was growing up in San Francisco. He has since moved to Alaska and has been unable to use the island for some time.

The island was used in the 19th century for mining manganese, the mineral responsible for the rock’s red color. There are reportedly still abandoned mining tunnels on the island. In other lives it was occupied by Russian fur traders, and, at one point, by the United States Navy Commander and State Senator Selim Woodworth, who built a long-gone cabin on the island.

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