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Welcome to 2500 Steiner

Welcome to 2500 Steiner

Susie Tompkins Buell and Mark Buell

The “San Francisco Chronicle Magazine” ran an amusing cover story this weekend about life at 2500 Steiner, the great co-op atop Pacific Heights on the corner of Steiner and Jackson.

Susie Tompkins Buell and Mark Buell
Susie Tompkins Buell and Mark Buell

It’s surprising that the high-profile residents agreed to not only discuss the details of their fund raising activities their, but to let the Chronicle come in and take photos. Don’t co-op folks seem — I don’t know — more private than that? I guess when you live in one of the most visible high-rises in the City and happen to have Hillary Clinton sleeping in the guest room, privacy is beside the point.

The article is great fun, and after reading it I recalled a line from Jane Austen: “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?” I’m not sure who is laughing at whom, but any sport that involves power, politics and a Pacific Heights penthouse is just the sport for SFluxe.

According to the piece, these are just some of the power players who’ve visited the building in recent years:

  • Bill Clinton
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Maria Cantwell
  • Dick Gephardt
  • Al Gore
  • Claire McCaskill
  • Barack Obama
  • Nancy Pelosi
  • Chuck Schumer
  • John Tester

Mark Buell said, “I foresee many more presidents and senators walking through the building.” But who will get to spend the night? “We’re Hillary people,” he said. She has spent the night in the penthouse and is said to be welcome anytime. Obama, on the other hand, is welcome only under one condition: “He’d have to get the nomination to come up.” That’s a tough admission policy!

But what about the building itself, you ask. What’s so special about it?

Built in 1927 by Conrad Alfred Meussdorffer for $500,000, there’s nothing else like it in the northwest quadrant of Pacific Heights, where its location makes it seem much higher than 12 stories.

Meussdorffer is responsible for the apartment buildings at 2006 Washington, 2000 Washington, 1925 Gough, 1810 Jackson and 2299 Pacific. Says the Chronicle:
“He had just finished 2006 Washington St., a vertical pink palace that looks down on the Spreckels Mansion where Danielle Steel resides. 2006 Washington has a front garden, circular driveway and porte cochere, and each floor is an apartment of 6,000 square feet with a bay view balcony, according to the new book “Gables and Fables: A Portrait of San Francisco’s Pacific Heights.” By comparison, its younger sister, 2500 Steiner St., is understated, without driveway or balconies, and with one three-bedroom apartment per floor. But the penthouse was built with just two and Buell, a real estate man, didn’t know how big it was until he paced it off upon request — 40 feet wide and 100 feet long, adding up to 4,000 square feet.”

John Wheatman, who has lived in the building the longest (he’s 80), pointed out some of its quirky features. For instance, it was built with “suicide windows,” meaning that they pivot open from the bottom, making it possible for one to… jump out!

It also came with a warren of rooms on the ground floor with space “for seven Chinese servants.” He said “They lived in cells. They would wash your car, wash your windows. Then you had the crash and that stopped.”

But if all of this stuff makes you want to move in right away, you’ll need patience and lots of cash.

There’s only one sale every year or two, and they are often kept private (you won’t find information about them through the MLS.) Expect to pay at least $6 million, and if you want to be on friendly terms with the neighbors — support Hillary in 2008!