ST. HELENA — Assessor John Tuteur has slapped a $100 million valuation on an unfinished Upvalley home, making it by far the highest assessed residence in Napa County history and one of the most pricey properties in the U.S.
Until now, the highest Napa County assessment for residential structural improvements was under $25 million, Assessor John Tuteur said in an email Wednesday.
Tuteur declined to identify the house’s location or owner, saying only that it was in St. Helena where it accounted for more than half of that city’s $170 million jump in its assessment rolls for 2013-2014.
The only house recently under construction within the St. Helena city limits that could conceivably warrant such a value is Joe Schoendorf’s 12,398-square-foot residence on Big Rock Road in the hills east of Silverado Trail, according to a review of city records.
Approved by the city’s Planning Commission in 2005 and 2006, the plans for the Schoendorf house included a pool, workshop, four-car garage and a high-tech geothermal system that uses caves and turbines to heat and cool the massive complex in an energy-efficient manner. The three-level structure was designed to reflect the natural contours of the sloping hillside property.
Materials such as “a cut-stone veneer, copper and sod roofs, and copper-clad doors and non-reflective windows present a sturdy appearance on the forested hillside,” according to a 2005 city staff report by then-planner Rick Tooker. “The varied spaces, scale and shapes are sensitive to the topography in a way that reflects the unique style of Frank Lloyd Wright.”
The house isn’t visible from Big Rock Road. Tooker said the winding driveway and entry court “provide a sense of arrival that is characteristic of some of the finest homes built by contemporary designers.” Despite the house’s scale, Tooker and members of the Planning Commission praised the project’s environmentally sensitive features.
Schoendorf is a partner in the venture capital firm Accel Partners and a former executive with companies like Apple and Hewlett-Packard. He could not be reached for comment.
Tuteur said his office wasn’t able to obtain any information from the owner or the owner’s agent. “Our estimate was $100 million for the structural improvements based on the size, quality and nature of the improvements,” he said.
The $100 million figure was based on the property’s estimated value as of Jan. 1, 2013, when construction was still not complete, said Tuteur.
A year earlier, when the house — part of a residential compound — was at an earlier stage of construction, Tuteur’s office had valued the structure at $7 million.
Tuteur described the project as a “residential complex,” saying the estimated value includes “a number of accessory structural improvements.”
When construction is completed, Tuteur said his office would have the opportunity to make a more informed valuation.
“We were not able to obtain cost information from the owner or from the owner’s agent after multiple requests,” Tuteur noted.
If the $100 million valuation holds up, the Schoendorf property would join a small, elite group of American homes valued at $100 million and up.
St. Helena property values rose 9.6 percent for 2013-2014. Without the Schoendorf project, the city’s assessed value would have increased by about 4.4 percent, less than the countywide average of 5.3 percent.