Sweet pads being built at old sweets factory

Homes with views of The Bay, above the bustling stores of the historic Ghirardelli Square, will be sold to part-time owners who are willing to spend up to $250,000 for five weeks a year.

The top floors of five buildings within the square, near Aquatic Park, are expected to be remodeled in time for summer, according to JMA Ventures</a> developer Joe Nootbaar.

“We’re taking a historic San Francisco gem,” Nootbaar told The Examiner, “and allowing people to come and enjoy it in a way that they’ve never been able to enjoy it before.”

The Romanesque Revival-style buildings were built as a factory complex between 1864 and 1923, according to city documents. Inside some of the brick buildings, workers toiled to make uniforms for Union troops fighting in the Civil War. They also made sweets, mustard and boxes.

When their shifts ended, the factory-hands retired to an apartment building within the square. On their short walk home, they passed a building punctuated with an elegant clock tower built in 1916.

After the Ghirardelli company was sold in 1962, the buildings were converted from factory- and apartment-space into a shopping center with some offices included on the top floors.

Last year, construction to convert some of those top floors into upscale timeshare condos began.

Managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts Inc., the two- and three-bedroom units will be up to 1,900 square feet. Plasma televisions, fireplaces and unobstructed views of the Bay, Alcatraz and the Marin headlands will entertain the well-heeled part-owners for up to five weeks of the year, according to Jenny Randall, a spokeswoman for the project hired by JMA.

On Wednesday, the San Francisco Landmark Preservation Advisory Board gave the developers permission to carve a small door out of the clock tower so a private room with a mezzanine can be built inside the tower. The new door will allow workers to tune the clock without passing through the room.

But the commissioners rejected a bid by the developers to screen off stairwells and balconies with frosted glass and a carved metal screen, because the proposed flower and leaf designs were out of character with the buildings’ industrial character.

Architect Paul Adamson said the metal and frosted glass was needed “to enable the new private use of the stairs” and “enhance the residential feel of their balconies.”

Commissioners told the developers they could use clear glass or propose different patterns for the glass and metal.

jupton@examiner.com

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