Saturday, July 21 , 2018, 12:52 pm | A Few Clouds 71º


Local News

Getting Your Piece of a Beachfront Paradise

Fractional ownership opportunity gets you a $13 million More Mesa luxury estate for less.

A jaw-dropping view of the Channel Islands, Santa Barbara’s coastline and the San Ynez Mountains adorn the Santa Barbara Beach Club, a new oceanfront estate overlooking More Mesa Beach at the end of Patterson Avenue.

Beachfront properties like this are hard to come by — especially without those pesky freeways and railroad tracks nearby — but Kari Ann and Jay Gerlach are willing to share their dream home with five other families.

"We’re hoping it’s other people’s dream house, too. We’re going to find out if we have good taste or not, I guess," said Jay, who was involved in a number of startup businesses before creating the beach club.

Membership in the $13 million, 6,300-square-foot, New England-style property, will cost approximately $2 million, plus annual expenses. This gets each owner an equity share, plus eight weeks a year in the house, which has five suites and features a secluded beach cove, gourmet kitchen, gym, handcrafted bar, theater, billiard lounge, wine cellar, walk-in cigar humidor, library, sauna, pool and Jacuzzi. It even has a hydraulic car elevator to maximize parking space. Concierge services such as an on-call masseuse and private chef will be available to members, and the house will be stocked with everything from the owner’s favorite foods and soaps, to their family pictures.

"If you want, there’s no reason for your guests to know you don’t own the house outright," said Kari Ann. "It’ll be just like it was when you left it."

While the technical term for the partnership is "fractional ownership," Jay explains it simply: "If you and I bought a house together and both our names were on title, that’s exactly what we’re doing. It’s called tenants in common … but we will have six owners, each with a percentage."

The Gerlachs originally bought the property, an empty lot, to develop their dream house. But like anyone who’s ever tried to build a home can testify, development doesn’t come cheap. As the dream house got dreamier and dreamier, the financial realities became such that they rethought the investment, explained Kari Ann.

As construction progressed on local architect Robert Foley’s design, they shared the work-in-progress with friends, "We got such great response," said Kari Ann. "Everybody said, ‘Oh this is great. I wish we had a house like this.’ And my husband said, ‘Why not?’"

"If we can share it with other people and still manage to keep eight weeks for ourselves it would be really great investment for us and still a beach house of our dreams," she said.

The shared ownership model allowed Kari Ann, who worked with Tuvalu Home, to furnish the house with everything she dreamed of.

Some of her favorite things include chandeliers right out of The Little Mermaid, made out of seashells, a settee with quilting inspired by coral, and a custom-made curio cabinet.

"I didn’t want to be matchy matchy. I wanted it to look more like a collected look over time," said Kari Ann. She describes the experience of furnishing a house from top to bottom — including every single knob, knick-knack, linen and dish — as "a hellish but wonderful dream."

"When you’re building a place that luxurious and that large, it just makes more sense to split it with more people," said Jay. The Gerlachs already own a beach house in town, and weren’t planning to use the new home full time anyway. They wanted a place where their extended family could come stay, and the estate, at 5277 Austin Road, fit the bill perfectly.

They did a test run over the Fourth of July.

"We had multigenerations here and it was kind of fun to see how the house was used," said Kari Ann. "Women were in the kitchen chatting, the older people were at the table having their coffee, enjoying the main room and the library, and the kids were downstairs, outside, or down the beach in the back. All the men were upstairs in the Jacuzzi (which has a flat-screen television tuned to sports to compliment the dolphin and sea lion show on the ocean). … I think this house has something for everybody and something for everybody at the same time."

When asked about what it’s like to work so closely with his wife for the past three years, Jay laughed.

"It’s fun but it also can be very frustrating … everybody’s heard of the old saying that if you can survive a remodel together you’ve got a strong marriage — this was a lot more than a remodel," he said.

He laughed even harder when asked if he would do a project like this again.

"Yes, but not immediately," he said. "We need a little time to recover."

For more information visit  or call 805.504.0699.

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