In Walden, his 1854 text on living the simple life, Henry David Thoreau advised readers to “go confidently in the direction of your dreams.” For a new generation of San Francisco’s elite, that direction is two hours south, toward a 600-acre community that promises to promote Thoreau’s ideals—starting at around $5 million per lot.
Walden Monterey, as the development is called, is being billed as a luxury “agrihood”—a housing collective focused on sustainability and communal farming—on the Monterey Peninsula. It aims to provide Silicon Valley’s tech titans with the sort of space (an average of 20 acres per parcel) that homes in traditional retreats like Napa or Carmel don’t have, along with back-to-nature amenities—a sunrise yoga platform, a treehouse, a Zen meditation garden—that comprise the woke mogul’s version of country club living.
@larsonshores Moss House designed for #waldenmonterey – The house is based on the structure of Spanish Moss which is prevalent throughout this 20 acre site. Like moss, the house grows in a chainlike fashion down the hillside. Asymmetrical rooflines are a reflection of the irregular topography and allows the participant to experience many points of view.
A post shared by Walden Monterey (@waldenmonterey) on Dec 6, 2017 at 12:35pm PST
“The difference between the buyer at this property and the kind at Pebble Beach,” developer Nick Jekogian says, “is that one wants a home on a golf course and one wants a home in nature with like-minded people.”
The difference between the buyer at this property and the kind at Pebble Beach, is that one wants a home on a golf course and one wants a home in nature with like-minded people.
Similar spots exist already; Miralon, a sort of crunchy Club Med set on an olive farm in Palm Springs, and Kohanaiki, the Big Island of Hawaii’s latest private beach community, are examples of high-end, farm-to-table living. Still, Walden Monterey has the unique advantage of being easily accessible to one of the country’s most important business centers. “There are very few properties where you can be that close to nature after a two-hour drive” from a major city, Jekogian says. “On Friday afternoon you jump in your Tesla and head down to disconnect.”
At least, you do once you’re done building. In the coming months, a select handful of architects will begin work on what will eventually be 22 homes. The houses to be built on the property will have zero net impact on the environment—even the front gates will be solar-powered. Also, builders must use renewable energy sources, and tree removal is forbidden. Over the past year prospective buyers and builders visiting the area to scout locations were invited to stay in yurts on the grounds.
“Hillside Home” by @fougeronarch – The long thin volume of this three bedroom home conforms to the steep hillside contours of the land, adapting its shape and structure in response. on the north and west, clear expanses of glass reveal coastline views. #waldenmonterey #architecture #homes #sustainablelifestyle #monterey
A post shared by Walden Monterey (@waldenmonterey) on Nov 29, 2017 at 3:05pm PST
So far five plots have been sold, and the developer is juggling a wait list of more than 100 hopeful buyers. Walden officials are hesitant to name names, but executives from area rainmakers such as Google are said to make up a healthy portion of those showing interest. And why wouldn’t they? “Much of the early interest comes from people involved in businesses that have been at the forefront of both innovation and social engagement,” Jekogian says.
Bay Area real estate agent Joel Goodrich echoes this idea. “This location is appealing because it’s close [to San Francisco], yet it feels remote,” he says. “These people aren’t looking for a playground. They’re more low-key.” Or they will be as long as there’s WiFi in the meditation garden.
This story appears in the June/July 2018 issue of Town Country. Subscribe Today