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Owner drops price for SF Bay island

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POSTED July 9, 2012 1:29 a.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An island offering a secluded beach, promises of great fishing and stunning views of the San Francisco skyline is up for sale — and at a discounted price.

Red Rock Island, a 6-acre mass of rock tucked away in a northern part of San Francisco Bay, is now being offered for just under $5 million, Realtor Steven Higbee said. The property earlier this year was listed for $22 million.

Mineral rights for the property, which Higbee says contains manganese in its rocky outcroppings, are negotiable.

The undeveloped island has been on and off the market for years. Higbee said he advised the owner that the best way to move it was by “whittling away at the price.”

Dishing out a few million dollars for a 5.78-acre property — especially one with no house or other structure — is not for everyone. But Higbee notes that if and when the island is sold, the new owner will have some unique opportunities.

Sitting about six miles north of San Francisco, just off the south side of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, Red Rock Island is not just off the beaten path, it’s not on any path — and doesn’t even appear on some maps.

Accessible only by boat or helicopter, and with no crowds of tourists swarming about like the better-known Alcatraz Island, the island offers what may be the ultimate in a secluded getaway.

“You could go out there and have wild parties or retreat away from the wild parties,” Higbee said.

The new owner also would have the “bragging rights” of owning their own private island in San Francisco Bay, he said.

Then there’s the chance to escape San Francisco’s gloomy and damp summer days with a quick trip to his or her island retreat, with a relaxing day of basking in the sun.

“Red Rock Island is out of fog bank,” Higbee said. “If San Francisco is in the fog, you may be sitting in the sunshine.”

If you want to get out of the sunshine, be sure to bring your own umbrella. There are no structures on the island. All that stands is a flagpole and its supporting wires.

Over the years, ideas have been floated to remove dirt and rock from part of the island and sell it for use in roadway construction, and to build a hotel on the remaining land, though none of those ideas have been implemented.

The only person to ever call Red Rock Island “home” for any period was a man named Selim Woodworth, according to redrockisland.homestead.com. Woodworth built a cabin on the island and lived there from 1851 to 1856, according to the site.

Possible loneliness aside, Higbee points out that the new owner also would enjoy great fishing and a distant view of the America’s Cup races when the event comes to San Francisco in 2013.

In addition, the island offers the lure of romantic tales of supposed buried cash from bank robberies of long ago, stories that Higbee acknowledges have no basis in fact.

Then there’s the investment opportunity as a possible development as a resort or casino, if as Higbee said, “someone came along with the right vision and money.”

But taking ownership of the island may turn out to be a long-term proposition, with no guarantee of being able to sell it for a quick profit.

Its current owner, retired business owner Mack Durning, took possession of property from its previous owner, David Glickman, sometime in the 1970s, according to Higbee.

Glickman had bought the property in the early 1960s, asking $10 million for the island and another $10 million for mineral rights, with the hopes of cashing in on the then-increased demand for rock and gravel as parts of San Francisco Bay were filled in for development.

Glickman never sold the island, but ended up turning it over to Durning in exchange for some debts, Higbee said.

Glickman has since died, and Durning rarely visits the island.

“If somebody came up with some money, I would sell it; otherwise, I’ll leave it to my sons to get even with them,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this year.

Durning did not return calls to The Associated Press seeking comment about the island.

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