Photo: Gregory Malin
Photo: Gregory Malin
Long before he founded Troon Pacific, a high-end real estate development firm producing some the Bay Area’s most ambitious, luxurious and eco-conscious properties, Gregory Malin managed shopping centers in Southern California.
After acquiring some shopping centers in the South Bay peninsula, Malin headed north and made his mark in San Francisco, developing some of the city’s most refined residences over the last quarter-century.
The father of twin 17-year-old boys, Malin has lived in San Francisco since 1989.
“Now I feel like a local,” the UCLA graduate said.
Malin’s move came several months before the Loma Prieta earthquake of Oct. 17, 1989, but living through that disaster forever changed the way he looked at developing properties, whether they be luxurious single-family residences or mixed-use developments.
“We think a lot about seismic safety when we’re designing,” Malin said. “We also look for ways to supplement the design. A home we built in Russian Hill has a backup generator and water cistern on-site.”
Malin is referring to 950 Lombard St., a 9,500-square-foot residence boasting the city’s largest residential rainwater cistern. The cistern has a capacity of 12,500 gallons and can deliver up to 50,000 gallons of water per year to the home’s toilets and irrigation system. In an emergency, the filtered water within the cistern can be tapped as a source of drinking water.
In this interview with The San Francisco Chronicle, Malin talks about what inspires him, what design practices irk him and the connection between managing shopping centers and developing high-end real estate.
Q: What are your favorite types of architecture, what are your influences, and what do you draw inspiration from?
A: There isn’t a specific type of architecture that I seek to buy or change. I look to find elements of architecture that we can highlight — a modern interpretation on tradition. I enjoy finding ways to connect interior spaces to the outdoors while bathing a house in natural light. I love playing with natural light, and I’m always looking for a way to surprise someone for that “wow” moment. Sometimes architecture is blank canvas; other times it has incredible period detailing that we can highlight. Some homes are a hodgepodge of different types of architecture, which allows you the opportunity to elevate or modernize that appearance.
Q: Is there anything in common between managing shopping centers and developing high-end real estate?
A: The common connection is problem solving, and having vision and implementing it. I’ve seen several cycles in real estate and was a receiver for First Republic Bank at one time. That let me see how people really make mistakes between vision, implementation and management of capital. It helped me learn how to properly invest.
Q: What’s something you’re committed to as a developer?
A: One thing we don’t do is create false history for a home. We won’t add finishes or details simply for the sake of adding them. I’m committed to quality, efficiency, beauty and going that extra mile. For example, we’ll wrap plumbing pipes with clay for acoustic reasons. No one can see it because it’s hidden behind the walls and you’d never know it was there, but it’s little touches like that which separate us from other developers. When I first started, developers had a poor name because they cut every corner. I thought, “What if we did the opposite? What if a developer knew where to invest?”
We invest in sustainability and wellness. When we did our first sustainable project, most people hadn’t even heard about LEED certification, but our aim is to not be wasteful. We want the buyer to not feel bad about their purchase. We really learned how to make homes more healthful through the process of sustainability. My late wife would say the greatest luxury in life is health, and I want to be sure that what we do is as healthful as possible. That’s why we mitigate the use of known carcinogens, have air changers and water filters in our homes.
Q: What projects/accomplishments are you most proud of?
A: One of them is Residence 950 in Russian Hill. I’m most proud of how the garden connects to the house and kitchen, and how usable it is between cottage and main house. There’s a surprise element to the home when combined with its art gallery/sport court below. I’ve never built a house that entertains better.
Residence 2646 on the border of Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights has the best family floor plan I’ve done. There are four bedrooms on the same level, and I enjoy the home’s connection to the street and how the public rooms play together.
We incorporated natural light with a skylight over the stairs and bathrooms. The skylight above the stairs can open, allowing hot air to rise out of the home. At Residence 950, we placed a skylight above the home’s glass elevator. That touch brings sunlight through all three levels.
Q: What do you do to unwind?
A: My favorite moments are reflective moments, like when we finish a project. At Residence 950, it was so soothing to sit in that garden and have a glass of my favorite drink and a cigar and reflect on process and accomplishment.
Q: What’s a piece of technology you can’t imagine doing business without?
A: I can’t imagine living in a home that hasn’t taken advantage of the health and wellness aspect. That means air filtration, so there’s always fresh air in the home, using as much natural light as possible and implementing water filtration. We try to mitigate the use of known carcinogens in the materials, paints, sealants and insulation used in homes, and find ways to work with companies and materials that are associated with health, wellness and sustainability in real estate.
Founder, CEO of Troon Pacific.
Address: 1 Post St., Financial District, San Francisco.
Website: www.troonpacific.com. Phone: 415-504-8100.
Malin has more than 25 years experience in acquisitions, oversight and development planning in the real estate industry. An investor in both residential and commercial real estate, Malin emphasizes designs that are energy efficient and sustainable. In his spare time, he supports organizations like the San Francisco Opera Guild and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Malin is a member of the San Francisco Zoological Society board and serves on the leadership council for the San Francisco Education Fund and the Residence Hall Committee for the San Francisco Music Conservatory. He also lends support to international organizations focused on women’s health and environmental research, like the Kew and Voss foundations.