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SAN FRANCISCO-The 135-year-old Albion Castle here will be sold to the highest bidder at an open outcry auction next week. Built in 1870, the Norman-style castle in the India Basin neighborhood totals somewhere between 1,500 sf and 2,500 sf and sits on a 10,000-sf waterfront parcel that also produces up to 10,000 gallons a day of fresh drinking spring water. Over the years is has served as a residence, a brewery, office space and artists’ studios.The seller is Eric Higgs, the founding chief information officer of Citysearch.com and now a professional sculptor. The broker he hired to figure out how to unload the property, Peter Rosenthal of Starboard/TCN Worldwide, tells GlobeSt.com he thought it would sell through a standard negotiated sale until he started to evaluate the property. “I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was worth,” says Rosenthal. “I spoke with a number of underwriters, appraisers and agents, and everyone just rolled their eyes; the actual value is very hard to determine by conventional methodologies.”What is known is that Higgs paid $400,000 for the property in 1998. Based on who Rosenthal says has shown interest, guesses as to the castle’s future include office complex, restaurant, winery, water-bottling facility, recording studio or another brewery. It may also end up being someone’s residence. “A lot of people are thinking it might be their dream home,” he says. “They’re seeking that ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ feel in San Francisco.”To handle the auction, Rosenthal has called on second-generation real estate auctioneer Todd Good, who recently auctioned off more than 80 parcels of land on behalf of the Archdiocese of Tucson. The auction is scheduled for June 11, 10:30 a.m. at the Palace Hotel. The final open house tours are scheduled for June 4, 5 and 10 from noon until 3 p.m. Higgs is charging a $10 fee to tour and view the castle, with all proceeds being donated to an international relief charity.”The beauty of the auction, from the bidders’ perspective, is that the high bid ­ no matter how low that is ­gets the property,” says Good. “So Albion Castle has mystique surrounding not only the property, but also how much it will be worth when I rap the gavel down for the final time.”The street the castle overlooks, Innes, and the entire India Basin neighborhood are not the city’s most fashionable, but they are improving, with lofts across the street going for about $600,000. The neighborhood is the last undeveloped piece of waterfront in the city. Major homebuilders have broken ground on new construction, and significant investment dollars have poured into the area for redevelopment.Higgs says he is selling the castle because he is moving to Florida to continue his sculpting and be closer to his wife’s family. He has admitted being a little wistful and jittery as the auction approaches. He says he is wistful because it will be hard for him to leave the castle behind, and jittery because he has no idea what the property will bring, with his already having committed to sell to the highest bidder, regardless of price. “It’s easy to forget that you’re 10 minutes from downtown and 10 minutes from the airport when you’re in a castle that evokes images of Europe hundreds of years ago,” he says, adding that Macy’s, Land’s End and Nash Bridges have all used it for photo shoots. “When you walk through those gates, it’s like moving through a portal to a different place and time.”

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