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Marc Benioff (Photo courtesy of salesforce.com)

Larry Ellison

Elisa Stephens (Photo courtesy of Academy of Art University)

Shameless movers & shakers

Who's playing high-level monopoly with San Francisco real estate?

MOVER
Marc Benioff

Benioff is expanding again. A year ago, he dished out $278 million for 14 acres of waterfront property in Mission Bay to construct a new headquarters for his Salesforce.com. That, combined with the company’s remaining half million square feet, makes Salesforce.com the largest tech company in S.F. Benioff is also the prime mover behind UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. By 2015, his $100 million, coupled with his ambitious vision, will bring the new 289-bed hospital complex to life—right across the street from the Salesforce.com headquarters.

MOVER
Russell Flynn
(not pictured)

This elusive high-stakes real estate investor used to bid against the infamous Lembis, and now he’s profiting from that family’s demise. So far, he has paid more than $100 million for 28 of the Lembis’ 308 buildings, reports J.K. Dineen in the San Francisco Business Times. In June, Flynn snatched up two of the Lembis’ Nob Hill landmarks, the Gaylord Suites and Park Lane (both operate as upscale residences) for $55 million. Nine percent down, another 91 to go.

SHAKER
Larry Ellison via the America's Cup
(not pictured)

Soon after it was announced that the next America’s Cup would be held on our bay in 2013, thanks in large part to the software tycoon, the Port of San Francisco said that 70 or so businesses would have to move to make way for the race. And every other real estate mogul in town started drooling over the market possi-bilities of the suddenly sexy waterfront. The Fairmont Heritage Place has been boasting that its luxury homes are “the best vantage point for the America’s Cup in San Francisco.” (They’ve got a clear shot of the bay, and they’re right on the finish line.) And San Francisco city planners are jumping in with a scheme to build spectator venues along the surrounding northern waterfront.

MOVER & SHAKER
Elisa Stephens

Since Stephens’s grandfather founded the Academy of Art University in 1929 (as the Academy of Art Advertising), the school’s real estate portfolio has expanded exponentially, from 1 to more than 35 properties. No place is off-limits to this grabby institution, which has earned its nickname, the Academy of Real Estate, with such controversial buys as a parking garage in North Beach (AAU got into trouble with the city for converting the parking stalls into makeshift classrooms) and the 104-year-old Cannery, a retail landmark. An unworried Stephens wants to add 10 more properties by 2017.

MOVER & SHAKER
Doug Shorenstein
(not pictured)

After a few quiet years, Doug Shorenstein, of the iconic San Francisco real estate family whose investments date back to the 1940s, is making a splash. His company, Shorenstein Properties, recently paid $120 million for Market Square, the former wholesale furniture store at 1355 Market Street that’s now home to Twitter and is filling up with other tech companies. The purchase made headlines because the company worked with city officials to get all employees in the building exempted from the city’s 1.5 percent payroll tax. It also recently bought an office building on Spear Street and is adding four stories—the only new major office construction currently taking place aside from the Salesforce.com headquarters.

SHAKER
Hearst Corporation & Forest City Enterprises

Earlier this year, Forest City leased some of the space left by the departure of journalists from the Chronicle building, which is owned by the Hearst Corp. (Pictured is Stephen Hearst, V.P. of Hearst Corp.’s Western Properties.) The new tenants include tech startups the Hub and Square. Now, Forest City is planning to turn the entire four-acre property into a dynamic urban center housing nonprofits, other tech startups, arts groups, and also, still, the Chronicle. The Hearst Corp.’s most recent San Francisco purchase, in 2006—the office building at 400 Montgomery Street—was among the last properties belonging to one of San Francisco’s most powerful real estate families, the Luries, who have slowly divested over the years.

Other Extreme Real Estate stories:
The big squeeze
Foreclosure, a love story
Downtown, the new suburbia
Best laid-aside plans
The last housing boom standing
$150,000 for a $1.5 million home?