Big Business in Big Sur? Live Where You Work Along the California Coast

We've seen more and more examples of reclaimed wood being put to use in new homes. Old barn boards routinely pop up in dens, dining rooms, and floors to add rustic charm to new construction.

But its doubtful many homebuilders have used as much recycled wood as Gary Koeppel did when he built this stunning home, art gallery, and restaurant on California's Highway 1 using reclaimed redwood water towers.

Now, Koeppel has put his 4-acre complex on the market for $3.75 million. Both the art gallery and the restaurant are profitable and could be kept going by the new owner, he notes.

For entrepreneurial types, the space could also accommodate new business ideas. A bed-and-breakfast, perhaps? And if you want to live where you work, there's a 1,200-square-foot, one-bedroom residence on the property. Koeppel lived in the home for many years, but it's now occupied by a caretaker.

The 7,500-square-foot complex in Big Sur provides amazing views. "It's a beautiful setting right on the highway, overlooking the Pacific Ocean with 180-degree views of the ocean, whales, and dolphins," Koeppel says.

In 1974, Koeppel was an English professor when he hit upon the idea of constructing a home from old redwood water towers. The towers were previously mounted on an Oakland hospital and measured 34 feet in diameter and 14 feet high. The Big Sur property had only a small cabin on it at the time.

The site, about midway between Hearst Castle and Carmel-by-the-Sea, has a generator and water treatment facility, using water from a local stream. Of course, the business side of the property could be shuttered and the location turned into a majestic private residence. Paul Riddolls is the listing agent.

More than 4 million people drive by the location each year as they take the scenic route along the California coast. This spot is one of only nine commercially zoned properties in the area.

Koeppel says his finances were tight in the '70s and using the recycled towers seemed an economical way to build. In 1990, he bought a third tank and expanded the complex.

The redwood is known as knot-free heart redwood, which means the trees it came from date back to 2,000 years, Koeppel explains. Besides reclaiming the towers, Koeppel also tracked down an old staircase that had been in a fish cannery and, after having it sandblasted to remove the stench of sardines, used it to connect the two towers.

The result of all his hard work has stood the test of time in this impressive structure that has become a well-known fixture in Big Sur. We're curious to see whether someone will lay claim to this reclaimed stunner.