Neighborhood Spotlight: The Circus Club Area of Atherton

Three words describe the posh Circus Club neighborhood of Atherton: exclusive, impressive, and luxurious. Historically, this neighborhood was a 600-acre private ranch of moneyed Massachusetts businessman, Faxon Dean Atherton. It has since grown into one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the country. Where Mr. Atherton’s home was once situated is now the Menlo Circus Club, a private country club for wealthy equestrian aficionados and socialites.

The streets of West Atherton are wide and spacious, lined with heritage oaks, cedars,  and pines. Like other Atherton neighborhoods, there are no sidewalks in West Atherton, giving it a provincial vibe. The rows of privacy hedges and fancy gates offer mere glimpses of the magnificent manors to the passers-by, and the more grandiose estates, despite their gates and hedges, still manage an imposing street presence.

Within West Atherton, the most sought after section is referred to as the Circus Club area and is made up of prestigious streets such as Park Lane, Camino al Lago, and Camino de los Robles. Here, you will find many fine estates and compounds tucked privately at the ends of long driveways that branch off meandering country roads. For many residents, this is the neighborhood of choice.

The make-up of the community continues to rapidly change as more of Silicon Valley’s prominent executives and investors move in. On nearly every street is a construction site for the next lavish mansion soon to rise. The old Ranch-style homes are steadily disappearing as younger homeowners move in.

The demand for homes in West Atherton is so high that even in the recent economic downturn, a tear-down property here still sells for around $5 million. But, as with any luxury home market, buyers are highly discretionary and consider these homes as less of an investment and more of a showcase.

Homes here tend to be unique and have greater value fluctuations, with the homes located on the edges of West Atherton selling for as much as eight percent less than those along the prime central streets. You could buy a home for $1 million less than its original asking price, but you will probably still end up paying close to $8 million.