Monday, April 18, 2016

Five San Francisco Real Estate Dynasties

1.       Bechtel Family
Warren A. Bechtel started Bechtel engineering and construction company in 1923. He was only
25 years old. The Bechtel family is known for famous projects such as the Hoover Dam, the
Channel Tunnel, Crossrail London and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Warren A. Bechtel died
unexpectedly during the Hoover Dam Project, so his son Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. took over
in 1960.

2.       Berg Family
Berg & Berg Enterprises was founded by brothers Clyde and Carl Berg. Carl Berg, former partner
of John Sobrato, owns Microsoft’s Mountain View Campus (pictured below) and some buildings
leased by Apple. He acquired Mission West properties in 1997 and sold it for $1.3B in 2012.
Carl’s latest project, Berg Pharma, helps find modern treatments for some of the world’s most
widespread diseases.  

3.       Sobrato Family
John A. Sobrato started the Sobrato Organization in 1979. But that wasn’t the first company
founded by this famous family. The senior Sobrato, John Mossimo Sobrato, owned a popular San
Francisco restaurant called John’s Rendezvous. After his father’s death in 1952, Ann Sobrato sold
the restaurant and used the proceeds to begin investing in real estate. John A. Sobrato’s son took
over the Sobrato Organization in 1979, and by 2013 they both announced that they were moving
away from managing the operations of the company to focus on charitable activities. In 2015,
John A. Sobrato and his wife offered the biggest ever pledge to the University of San Francisco
worth $15 million.

4.       Shorenstein Family
Walter Shorenstein bought Shorenstein Co in 1960. At that time it was named Milton Meyer and
Co, he changed the name in 1989. Walter passed away in 2010, and at the time of his death,
Shorenstein Company owned 130 buildings totaling at least 28,000,000 square feet of office
space. Walter’s son, Douglas W. Shorenstin, ran the company until this past November, when he
lost his battle with cancer. Some high profile properties that the Shorenstein Company purchased
was the Starrett-Lehigh Building in New York City, Chicago’s John Hancock Tower and New
York’s Park Avenue Tower.

5.       Wallace Family
Wallace Realtors was opened in 1928 by father-son duo William and Ed Wallace. Ed’s son, Clark,
joined his father and grandfather’s company in 1958. One of their biggest deals was the sale of
the 5,000 remaining acres of the 8,000-acre Moraga ranch to Utah Construction and Mining Co
for $4M in 1953. Today, the company is still run by Ed’s son, Clark.