Articles

DeSilva Island Redefines Luxury on San Francisco Bay

Builder-Architect Magazine

Situated off U.S. Highway 101, just five miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, DeSilva Island has drawn attention from more than a few developers over the years. The location is coveted - minutes from downtown San Francisco yet quietly secluded amidst towering eucalyptus in Mill Valley. One of the last remaining parcels of undeveloped land on the Marin County waterfront, the 42-acre site commands stunning views of the city skyline, Sausalito Harbor and Mt. Tamalpais.

But such potential can bring challenges. Building on DeSilva Island can prove difficult. The land includes 31 acres of delicate wetlands, home to a growing population of rare blue herons that nest in the treetops overhead. A carefully balanced plan would be needed to break ground, requiring approval from Marin County, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, all of which contributed to DeSilva Island lying practically dormant for years, despite the coastal growth around it.

Enter Armax International, Inc. founder and CEO Agustin Rosas-Maxemin. Where others saw obsatcles, Rosas-Maxemin, a Marin resident, saw only the upside in this uncommon bayfront promontory. He was determined to bring an upscale, architecturally rich community to the land - while remaining sensitive to the environment and protecting the abundant local wildlife.

Years later, Rosas-Maxemin and Armax, now part of a joint venture that includes an affiliate of Lehman Brothers as the principal investor behind LB DeSilva LLC, have succeeded in their vision. This summer, DeSilva Island celebrates its much anticipated Grand Opening, making available to the public its 62 Craftsman-style townhomes and single level residences. The luxury community will also include two waterfront estate homes and a private clubhouse with pool and hydro-spa.

While DeSilva Island amenities are on the cutting edge, it has always been an environmentally conscious development. From the outset, construction was planned around the blue heron nesting season. Working closely with wildlife biologists, Armax has monitored the rookery and the bird population at large. The company also helped restore the surrounding wetlands and shoreline, improving the tidal ebb and flow to the back areas of adjacent Belloch Lagoon, a stop on the Pacific Flyway for migratory shorebirds. Hugging the bayfront is the DeSilva Island Nature Trail, which is open to the public and has five scenic overlooks.

Even before DeSilva Island, Rosas-Maxemin was known for spearheading innovative development projects. San Francisco -based Armax first won a Gold Nugget Award in 1989 for Lombardia on the city's Russian Hill and another in 1991 for Montaire atop Nob Hill. Since its founding in 1981 by Rosas-Maxemin, the company has developed over $400 million of residential and commercial real estate. Armax recently completed the mixed-use Aurora building in San Francisco's South of Market Area (SOMA) and is currently building numerous other projects, including Romancia in Bodega Bay, Provinsalia in San Jose and Fiori de Napa in the Napa Valley.