The Pond estate, a sprawling 12-acre compound on the southern edge of Palm Springs, is going to auction.
The property was built for Robert and Jo Pond beginning in the late 1980s. Robert Pond was an engineer and inventor who co-founded the Palm Springs Air Museum, and the couple was active in the city’s social and philanthropic circles. Their estate features a white Spanish-style mansion and two guest houses, both in desert-washed pink stucco, with a total of 10 bedrooms and 19 bathrooms. The Ponds also built stables and garage space for their collection of more than 100 vehicles.
But it’s been listed for sale three times in the last 18 months, most recently for $10.75 million, and hasn’t yet found a buyer.
“There’s nothing like (the Pond estate). There’s nothing like it in its location. There’s few properties in the entire Coachella Valley of that size, and (that) have the architecture and lake and feel and passion behind the property that Bob Pond put into it,” said Todd Wohl, a founding partner with Premiere Estates, which has listed the property for auction. “But in the end, what’s it worth? It’s really worth what the market is willing to bear. That’s it.”
In an auction, potential buyers submit their best offers and property owners choose which bid they want to accept. Buyers have until Aug. 5 to make offers, but the sellers don’t have to wait until that date to accept an offer, Wohl said.
The estate asked $12 million in January of 2015, then fell to $10.75 million at the start of 2016. Premiere Estates is listing the property at its appraised value of $8.5 million, but there is no minimum bid. Wohl said he expects the sale price to be lower than the appraisal.
“With all respect for the agents that had the listing before, they didn’t know what it was worth,” Wohl said. “They can do a lot of analysis on a piece of paper, which is logical, but in the end, obviously, the market didn’t agree with them.”
The 12-acre compound at the end of Acanto Drive feels more like a retreat center than a full-time house. It has 10 bedrooms spread across nearly 19,000 square feet of living space, not counting the seven garages and stables for up to four horses.
The main house, a white ranch filled with skylights and Spanish-style arches, is spacious and formal. Its master suite spans at least 2,000 square feet and includes a private indoor pool; its dining room can seat 16 comfortably. Terrazzo tile and thick carpet covers the floors and chandeliers dangle from many ceilings.
The two guest houses — which were actually built first, according to Jo Pond’s personal assistant Roberta Morreale — contrast sharply. Their exteriors are pink and their interiors decorated with unfinished wood, southwest- and Mexican-inspired tile and ample Old West art. Outside, the larger of the two buildings has a tennis court, pool and spacious covered entertaining space.
The Ponds held fundraisers and parties frequently, Pond said, including for the Palm Springs Air Museum and the American Cancer Society.
“It would be nice if (the buyer) were somebody that would take an interest in our community and do what I did by sharing it, because the house is the happiest when it’s full of people,” Jo Pond said. “When you share it, then it’s worthwhile.”
Chris Gilfillen, a real estate agent with HK Lane and part of the sales team, said he’s shown the property five times in the last two weeks. Furnishings are not included. Robert Pond died in 2007, and his car collection was sold in 2012.
Gilfillen said auctions are not common, but he sees this one as a “marketing strategy” for ensuring a sale. Multi-million-dollar properties often spend months or years on the market.
Stewart Smith, a real estate agent with Patrick Stewart Properties who most recently listed the Pond Estate for sale, told The Desert Sun in March that he could see a buyer turning some of the property’s four garages into guest cottages and operating the estate as a boutique hotel. Smith did not return requests for comment this week.
A builder could also buy the property to redevelop the land, Wohl said. Premiere Estates’ listing boasts that the property could be turned into a neighborhood of about 25 homes.