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SAN FRANCISCO-The new Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences, a combination of full- and fractional-ownership residential development borne out of the historic Chronicle newspaper building at the corner of Market and Kearny streets, opened its doors. At a cost of $90 million, the 115-year-old office building–considered the first skyscraper west of the Mississippi–has been increased in height from 16 to 24 stories and transformed into a 101-unit condominium tower.

While the 12th floor resident’s lounge is up and running in addition to the lobby, the fitness center and board room are not targeted to open until sometime in 2008. A source with Ritz-Carlton tells GlobeSt.com that 90% of the 57 full-ownership units have been sold at an average price of $1,350 per sf or about $1.5 million per unit, generating over $100-million in sales.

Specific sales data on the remaining 44 units being sold as fractional housing was not provided. Each of those units can be sold 12 times over for a total of 528 sales, and the source intimated there is a significant amount of selling left to do as only a portion of the fractional units have been released for sale. The asking price for a 1/12th (21-day) interest in a fully furnished one-bedroom unit starts at $232,000, which means such a unit could generate nearly $2.8 million in sales revenue.

The project was a joint venture of the building’s owner, developer Jim Hunter, and the Ritz-Carlton Development Co. LLC (an affiliate of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. LLC). Under his Alameda, CA-based Hunter Group, he began seeking approval of the project back in 2004, when vacancy in the city’s office market was around 16 million sf, or about 22%.

The exterior transformation of the building including removal of the metal cladding that had been added to the masonry and stone building in the 1960s and adding eight stories to the structure. Originally designed by Chicago architects Burnham & Root and then rebuilt by San Francisco architect Willis Polk after suffering major damage in the 1906 earthquake, the latest renovation and expansion of the building was designed by a local architecture firm led by Charles F. Bloszies.

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