We talk a lot about the right time to buy a house. In this fabulous residence, there's nothing to do but keep track of the time. The beautiful century-old clock tower penthouse in San Francisco's South Beach neighborhood is on the market for $8.5 million.
The sixth-floor penthouse condo in a converted live-work building is a glorious timepiece from another era. However, it's also a completely modernized jewel box in keeping discriminating buyers who prefer the Apple Watch.
Co-listing agent Rob Levy of Sotheby's International Realty (Eric Turner is also a listing agent) notes the building's contrast between the old and the new.
"What's remarkably unique and ironic is that these four historic clocks are still accurately operated by a very simple, original system of gears and rods, while perched over South of Market, the epicenter of progressive technology at work below."
Built in 1907 for a lithograph company, the building was converted in the early 1990s to live-work condos. The clock tower was added to the building in the early 1920s and became a key part of the 3,000-square-foot penthouse unit.
the conversion, the light-filled space housed the company's artists, who created ornate and colorful labels for fruit boxes.
The brick building was transformed by renowned local architect David Baker. The penthouse was snapped up quickly when it came on the market almost a quarter-century ago.
This landmark comes with a bonus: While the owner has exclusive access to the three-level tower, the HOA pays for its maintenance.
Tom and Carol Burkhart have lived in the space for two decades. Now in their 70s, they've decided to move out of the city.
Tom Burkhart is quick to note his favorite place in the penthouse. "If you're not there at night, you're missing out. Our favorite spot is the room that leads up to the stairs on the clock tower side of the building."
Noting the views of the freeway and the Bay Bridge, he says, "When you're sitting there at night, it is moving art. It is spectacular. My wife and I never got tired of it. It's just such a unique place. We're going to miss it."
They probably won't miss moving into an empty neighborhood with no amenities, as it was when they bought the place. Since then, the South of Market area has been transformed into a bustling community with the addition of AT&T Park and a lively restaurant and bar scene thanks to the booming tech industry.
The renovated two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit with a wraparound deck and original brick detailing makes for one hot property. The space features hardwood and concrete flooring, original brick and concrete walls, exposed steel beams, glass-enclosed fireplace, multiple windows in every room, and a throughly updated kitchen.
But the space truly spins when you head to the tower on the far side of the building. Imagine living in London's Big Ben, and you'll have a sense of what it's like to have a clock tower, some 1,600 square feet of vertical space, as part of your residence.
A steep staircase takes you to the office, where you're greeted with huge windows with views of the city from all four sides.
After another steep climb, you'll arrive at the game room, complete with darts, a pool table, and a "Dirty Harry" pinball machine. Do you feel lucky?
Catch your breath, and then head up to the actual clock room, perched about 90 to 100 feet up, Levy estimates. It's worth the effort. "You can spin around in any direction," Levy says. You'll spy "Twin Peaks, Oakland, San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge, and the downtown skyline."
Take in this super cool steam-punk space filled with electric clock mechanics. Shoot a selfie, pour yourself a drink, and watch time literally go by.