Redwood City

“Panoramic views, seclusion and luxury define Cordilleras Heights living.”

Redwood City’s unincorporated neighborhood of Cordilleras Heights (MLS #336), better known as Emerald Hills, was slow to develop into a residential community, hindered mainly by its undulating terrain as well as the dashed dreams of early developers.

This sizable district is comparable to Woodside, with it spacious hillside homes, meandering lanes and stunning views of the valley and beyond, yet the homes here offer more for the money than their neighboring counterparts.

Most homes are palatial in both lot size and living space. Property owners often have their 4,000 square foot estates perched upon an acre or more of pastoral land. Thanks to a construction suspension from the 1970s through 1986 along with the lack of a sewer system until 1982, most homes are no more than 20 years old and include the finest, most modern of amenities. Huge master suites, chef-worthy kitchens, state-of-the-art home theaters and spectacular, terraced yards with meticulous landscaping and swimming pools are standard fare for Emerald Hills residences. Yet, the area’s eclectic past is still very much in the present, as evidenced by the occasional rustic cabin that harkens back to the borough’s early beginnings.

The secluded homes located around both of the lakes sell for a premium and those who live there tend to stay awhile. Dwellings located nearer to Alameda de las Pulgas have easier access to the city’s amenities and also tend toward the more modest end of the architectural spectrum. Cordilleras Heights truly is diverse, offering up sprawling, hillside estates, traditionally suburban developments and areas that have a distinct ‘Lake Tahoe’ vibe.

Most Cordilleras Heights residents can send their children to the distinguished Roy Cloud Elementary School and each summer, residents can apply for a season pass to enjoy the privately owned beaches of Emerald Lake. The Emerald Lake Country Club is owned and maintained by 50 active member families who pay dues, contribute work hours and have benefits associated with their membership.

Neighborhood Price Point

$550,00 – $2,800,000

Favorable Attributes
  • Homes are large and luxurious and most are under 20 years old
  • Most homes include a variety of modern amenities
  • Many homes have acre or larger lots and terraced yards
  • Panoramic views of the valley and San Francisco Bay
  • Within boundaries of esteemed Roy Cloud Elementary School
  • Secluded, rural setting

History of Cordilleras Heights, Redwood City

The beauty of Cordilleras Heights combined with the confidence of the “Roaring 20s” gave developer George Irvine an idea. Irvine decided to construct a hillside retreat in Cordilleras Heights, a place where affluent San Franciscans could escape the damp dreariness and lounge in the sun, enjoying ‘the best climate in the world’. Sadly, Irvine was only able to create the “Emerald Hills” name and a brochure touting the resort before losing the property to foreclosure.

Irvine’s loss was Financier Charles Holt and builder George Leonard’s gain. The two acquired the property, constructed a golf course and lured potential home buyers with complimentary picnics along Emerald Lake, a pond that at one time was used as a watering hole for stagecoach horses and cattle living on the land.

Emerald lake was incorporated in September 1920 as a ‘non-profit athletic, recreational and social facility”. On August 25, 1926, the Anglo-California Trust Company of San Francisco deeded the property to the Emerald Lake Country Club for $10. The caveats of this deed were there was to be no building of bars, livery stables, funeral or undertaking establishments or blacksmith shops. Leonard and Holt then constructed a second lake, which they named Upper Emerald Lake. Its shores included a beach, diving platforms, playground and outdoor amphitheatre.

With the arrival of the Great Depression, plans for the magnificent hotel and a 3,000-house subdivision were permanently halted. Just like their predecessor, George Irvine, Holt and Leonard lost it all and development dimmed. When it resumed, the area of Emerald Hills was dotted with the occasional weekend cabin or rustic shack rather than the resort that had been the dream of three men.