881 Innes Avenue

The asking price for Albion Castle has just been reduced another half-million dollars (now $1,050,000 and 36% under original asking). As we wrote last September:

A few months after Laughing Squid launched their blog from Albion Castle in early 2005 the Hunter’s Point property at 881 Innes Avenue was auctioned off at the Palace Hotel in front of a thousand spectators and sold for $2,090,000 (purchased for $400,000 in 1999).

The mortgage banker buyer had planned to resurrect the Albion Porter & Ale Brewery for which the castle was originally constructed and open a restaurant on-site as well. And while the restaurant and re-brewery plans never materialized, the interior of the San Francisco Historic Landmark was renovated and restored.

Now asking $1,900,000 for the castle at 881 Innes.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by diemos

    Seller financing available.

  2. Posted by Shza

    What do people think this would actually sell for? $800,000?

  3. Posted by anonn

    Depending on the renovations, and if they can provide secure parking, it could maybe be a place to hold events or parties. Just a thought.

  4. Posted by flaneur

    There was an article in yesterday’s WSJ about wineries who set up shop in Oakland and Berkeley – the grapes get trucked in. This would be a great winery.

  5. Posted by J

    They’d have to truck in the grapes AND the customers!

  6. Posted by lark

    Extremes: so attractive, such a bad neighborhood.
    Does anyone know if these projects are slated to be re-built?
    If so, the neighborhood would improve (from awful to not so good).

  7. Posted by anonn

    A winery is a great idea. Open during the day, only, you know? I doubt you’d need to truck people in. The novelty of a working winery within the city would bring ’em in by the metaphorical truckload. Actual trucks wouldn’t be necessary.

  8. Posted by tipster

    Any of you been to that hood?
    I delivered Christmas presents to kids in that hood whose fathers were in prison one Christmas, and let me tell you, it was the ONLY place in SF in which I was scared. I don’t even notice the skid row on Turk Street off Market street any more – I go by it almost every night and could care less, but this area was something completely different. Groups of teenagers hang out on every corner. The only thing that calmed me down was the fact that their tennis shoes were more expensive than mine.
    You’d have to pay off the gangs big time to leave you and your customers alone. Ultimately, the gangs would own the business: you would run it for their benefit. There are easier ways to make money, trust me.

  9. Posted by anonn

    Yeah, right. I guarantee I’ve spent more time in the area than you, having sold property there. I guarantee the city wouldn’t turn a blind eye towards white people going into the hood to spend money. That is not the way of the world. It would not be “Pay off the gangs, or else.” No. It wouldn’t. That’s not the way things work. Police presence would quadruple the moment white folks started buying pinots.

  10. Posted by J

    Well, regardless of who is more hard core, spending millions on a property in this area would be one hell of a long shot gamble.

  11. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    $700k. I like the winery concept, and leasing out the caves to kink.com

  12. Posted by curmudgeon

    I’ve spent alot of time in that “hood”. The stretch along Innes is fine. It’s the public housing looming over it that is so awful and threatening. When (not if, apparently) these are torn down for the rebuild, this will get a lot better.
    Tipster, I understand some of what you’re saying, this is not a great neighborhood by a long stretch. But, as with everywhere, it’s block by block.

  13. tipster – this particular street is not so bad, it is a little somewhat isolated niche and it appears that there is even sparks of neighborhood pride here. There’s a few nicely maintained houses on this “block”.
    Still as far as valuation, this is a D- neighborhood. I think the seller needs to make another cut of the same magnitude to garner any interest. Expect the traffic on Innes to increase tenfold after the naval shipyard is redeveloped.
    While the winery idea is interesting there are so many better locations to establish a retail winery. Caves are no longer required to run a viable winery. Also customer parking would have to be found elsewhere, perhaps across the street.
    Speaking of which, what would really turn this little niche of a neighborhood around would be to redevelop the area between Innes and the bay. There’s a lot of derelict buildings there that could be put to much better use. Clean up the adjacent radioactivity first though.
    One of my favorite street names is across the street : Arelious Walker
    Another interesting tidbit about this area : there are parcels of land submerged off the coast from here that were sold off long ago with the expectation that landfill would make it buildable. Supposedly there are some people who own those grant deeds are are still paying taxes. http://sf.streetsblog.org/2009/08/24/eyes-on-the-street-the-ghost-streets-of-san-francisco/

  14. Posted by WTF?

    Uh, yeah, a cool winery where all the posh thugs and gangsters would love to hang. I’m writing an offer today!

  15. Posted by EBGuy

    Caves are no longer required to run a viable winery.
    Come on MoD, it’s less than 24 hours after Earth Day. Natural temperature regulation and all that… I know that when I toured Rutherford Hill (over a decade ago) they claimed that their shotcrete tunnels were not taxed the same as conventional warehouses (though that may be changing).

  16. Posted by anonn

    Uh, yeah, a cool winery where all the posh thugs and gangsters would love to hang. I’m writing an offer today
    Sweet. “WTF? Winery” — that has a nice ring to it. Perfect for this particular concept too.

  17. Posted by Greg S

    Indeed. A winemaker told me that the property tax laws read, literally “improvements upon the land” Courts have upheld that anything underground does not constitute an improvement UPON the land, and is therefore not incorporated into the assessment of value for property tax purposes. You could spend millions of dollars building really elaborate caves and a fancy tasting room, and if it’s all underground, there’s no property tax assessed on them – just the land value.
    I believed this story, but never researched it. Maybe someone here can verify.

  18. Posted by lol

    No taxes on underground construction?
    What if you dig your house in and have thick glass skylights just 2 inches under the ground level. You’d use your entire lot as a daytime parking. I am sure the taxman would find the skylights to be an “improvement upon the land”.

  19. Posted by Frederick

    I have visited this neighborhood several times, all the way to the old Naval Base. It’s still 1945. Really go for a ride as see the past.
    Back to the Castle, if you go after dark, be prepared to pack a real bit of ammo. The traders are not looking for a winery, but who has the cash and the goods.
    The traders are actually wearing body armor and are packing serious weapons as well as serious cash.
    The cops stay away as they are usually out gunned.
    Serious drug trades don’t invite the uninformed.
    Visit Napa or Sonoma or your local Wine Bar!!

  20. Posted by anon

    Tipster – You did not deliver x-mas presents to kids in Bayview whose fathers’ were in prison. You made this up. Provide a link to the organization that organizes volunteers for this purpose, otherwise I will believe you lied.

  21. Posted by tipster

    ^Try going to church once in a while, fool. A lot of them organize a similar event at Christmas.
    Your church will hold a toy drive, and then a wrapping party where members of the congregation wrap gifts and number them, with a key of the number and the age and gender of a child for which that wrapped gift is appropriate.
    Another set of volunteers gets the list of kids (I’m not sure from where they get the list, maybe from the prisons) – name, gender, age and address. They match the name of each kid with the number corresponding to the gift that is age and gender appropriate for that child. They write numbers on small slips of paper and pin the numbers on a map at a location that roughly corresponds to the address. The map is hung on a wall.
    On Christmas day or very shortly before, yet another set of volunteers signs up to deliver the presents. Each volunteer looks on the big numbered map, finds the location they want to go, pulls some pinned numbers off that location on the map and hands the numbers to an organizer. The organizer hands you a packet they have prepared for each number you selected off the map: containing an address for each number you give them, directions from the church to the address, the name of the child or children at that address, and the wrapped donated gift that is age appropriate for each child at each address you selected, assigned as noted above.
    Then the volunteers set off delivering the gifts. Most people pick about 3 addresses, and most addresses have one or two children. I think there was an age limit of about 10: at least all of the kids I delivered to have always been about ten or under and there have sometimes been older kids at the house for whom we didn’t bring anything.
    I’m not exactly sure how all of that was relevant to the discussion, and I’m certainly not interested in telling you which church I attend. It’s pretty creepy that you would even ask.
    Hopefully, you can do something nice for someone less fortunate than you are at some point in your life. It won’t help you in any way, and because I always pick the absolute worst locations that no one in his right mind will drive to, it might even get me killed someday. You should do it anyway.

  22. Posted by ***

    ^^ Many of the schools have similar toy drives during the holiday’s. It is wonderful to try to make a child’s wish come true.

  23. Posted by lark

    I want to reiterate – this is SO bad because it is one note: ghetto. If (when?) this neighborhood becomes economically and racially mixed, due to project reconstruction, the ability of thugs to controls the streets is destroyed. It won’t be great, but it won’t have streets completely controlled by gangs.
    I live on Potrero Hill and the rebuild over here is aiming for a mix. No more unadulterated poverty, but an economic mix. If that is the goal for these projects (and it may not be) this neighborhood could improve dramatically.

  24. Posted by NoeNut

    The listing price on MLS does not match your intro line:
    “The asking price for Albion Castle has just been reduced another half-million dollars (now $1,050,000 and 36% under original asking). As we wrote last September…”
    MLS says $1.9 million.

  25. Posted by tipster

    ^$1,050,000 is the amount of the drop from original asking, from 2,950,000 to 1,900,000.
    Like a lot of sellers in this market (see 728 Duncan), the seller went from dreams of recouping his investment and costs on a 2005 buy, to the harsh reality of utter catastrophe.

  26. Posted by anonn

    Like a lot of sellers in this market (see 728 Duncan), the seller went from dreams of recouping his investment and costs on a 2005 buy, to the harsh reality of utter catastrophe.
    The only thing in common with those two properties is that they are in this market.

  27. Posted by anonn

    Tipster, how does your Christian charity jibe with your hobby of creating fictions and misleading people on the internet?

  28. Posted by FormerAptBroker

    anon wrote:
    > Tipster, how does your Christian charity
    > jibe with your hobby of creating fictions
    > and misleading people on the internet?
    I’m not big on spending a lot of time in bad neighborhoods, but I didn’t doubt Tipster since even I have spent time in that neighborhood handing out food before Thanksgiving (I was dating a girl in the St. Vincent de Paul Church Young Adult Group about seven years ago just in case anyone wants to call the Church and ask if they sent cars of young people from the parking lot next to the church to give food to people in Hunters Point before Thanksgiving seven years ago).
    Hunters Point is a crappy neighborhood where so sane person would want to live and it is also a neighborhood where any Realtor that did not have to go there would go. Since everyone cannot get the listings that Malin or the “Driscoll Girls” get some people (like transplants to the city who bash people on Blogs) may have to take a listing in a crappy area to pay the bills. I don’t have any problem with making a buck by earning a fee selling a pile of crap in a bad area, but save the “area is improving” for the buyers and don’t post “it is fiction” that scary looking kids hang out on the corners down there…

  29. Posted by anonn

    but save the “area is improving” for the buyers and don’t post “it is fiction” that scary looking kids hang out on the corners down there
    Sooner or later you’ll actually read a thread you decide to talk within.

  30. Posted by EBGuy

    The recorders office shows a “pending action” on Nov. 25, 2009 for this property. Perhaps it is referring to this lawsuit — nothing like banksters duking it out in the bubble rubble. Kathleen Smith is also the agent for service of process on Albion Castle LLC. See also Napa Smith Brewery.

  31. Posted by Kristine Enea

    I live down the street from the Castle and I’d buy it in a heartbeat if I had the money. I hope someone cool buys it and has parties there again. I don’t think it can be opened to the general public though – my contractor friend (who is also a neighbor and has been to the Castle a bunch of times) thinks there’s no way to make it ADA compliant within the historic landmark constraints, because of the narrow tower. As for the neighborhood, come see it in person. We host a shoreline walking tour the third Saturday of the month, next one on May 15, 10am-noon. Meet at the entrance to Heron’s Head Park, at Cargo & Jennings. http://www.indiabasin.org. Or email me if you have questions about the neighborhood: kristine@indiabasin.org. Yes, some of the public housing is being rebuilt. Hunters View (not behind the Castle but on the hill to the west of it) is the first of the HopeSF initiatives. It’s already underway. Same plan as for Potrero Terrace: mixed income, higher density, except it won’t have a retail street like Potrero Terrace. The first phase of the Shipyard is inching along – 1100 condos slated there, also minimal retail. We’re lobbying to put the retail along the shoreline, which is going through a redevelopment process of its own and could turn out pretty awesome if we zone it right. Back to present-day – come see the Castle in person. You can peak through the fence. It’s super cool.

  32. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Thanks for the info Kristine. Yes, this little niche seems to a diamond in the rough. I especially like that nicely maintained 2 story wooden clapboard house two or three buildings north of the Castle.
    Thanks for the info on the shoreline walks. I’ll try to join some day.
    Do you know anything about the radioactivity warnings along Donahue ? I tried searching http://hunterspointcleanup.blogspot.com/ for info but there’s nothing.

  33. Posted by Kristine Enea

    You might be thinking of The Watch House, the gray-green Victorian set back from the street? Yes, that one’s in great shape. Helps that people live there.
    There are rad warnings around some of Parcel B, which is still owned by the Navy. My understanding is that even though there’s no hard evidence of rad contamination, just stories, the regulators decided that the only way to prove the land was safe would be to dig down to the sea floor. So, the Navy is going to cover that parcel with a thick plastic liner and three feet of clean soil, and nothing can be built on it. The extra bummer is that they plan to dump rip-rap (rocks and boulders) on top of the sandy beach at the foot of that area, known locally as Buck’s Beach, which will destroy it as a kayak landing spot. The neighbors have been fighting for a living shoreline there which is a better remedy all around – cheaper, more functional and a lot better looking – but the Navy has pretty much blow us off. One good thing is that Parcel B will be a large park someday. From everything I’ve read, I’m not worried about any rad contamination there.
    Hope you can make one of the walking tours! We’d be happy to show you around any time, just drop me a line.

  34. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Kristine – Yup, that’s the place, the one with the wrap around yard. Thanks for the info about the radiation. I have a hunch that the warnings are mainly a CYA gesture.

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