San Francisco delays decision on retail-to-office conversions

The owners of 220 Post St. spent $75 million to buy the Union Square property in 2016. The goal: to attract a luxury tenant to the five-story building. Too bad few of those exist.

City Center Realty Partners shelled out nearly $75 million for Union Square’s 220 Post St., the former Saks Fifth Avenue Men’s Store, with the goal of attracting a luxury tenant to the five-story space. That goal has been more difficult than expected.

Nearly as difficult for the owners has been convincing city planners that retailers are no longer interested in space above the ground floor.

Seven proposals to convert upper-level retail into office space have been filed with the San Francisco Planning Department, including 220 Post’s. Most of those properties are in Union Square. Earlier this year, the city decided to freeze those applications for 18 months. That meant that 220 Post, which was supposed to be heard by the planning commission this month, is waiting indefinitely for a decision pending the creation of permanent rules.

What’s at stake is the future of the city’s retail heart. City officials are hesitant to give up the sales tax revenue and jobs that retail generates, but landlords say empty space accomplishes nothing. Instead, landlords argue that adding more office space would not only help them fill buildings, but alleviate the extreme shortage of office space that is sending small businesses and nonprofits to Oakland.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution by District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin in May that imposed temporary rules banning conversions for an 18-month period. Planning Department spokesperson Gina Simi said the department has postponed hearings for properties located within the city’s downtown retail area.

The controls don’t apply to properties located south of Market Street or for applications that have already been approved, such as the former Macy’s Men’s store.

 

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

Another 500 apartments on tap amid tiny East Bay city’s housing boom

Emeryville’s former Sherwin-Williams paint factory could begin its transformation into 500 new apartments early next year. 

After a five-year development process, the city approved Lennar Multifamily Communities project in February.

Lennar is expected to file for building permits early next year, said Charles Bryant, Emeryville’s planning and building director. The first homes could be completed by the end of 2021. Lennar didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Despite its tiny 1.28-square-mile size, Emeryville is seeing a number of large multifamily projects as industrial sites give way to mixed-use development. Sherwin-Williams would be the largest.

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

Google says it’s close to owning enough downtown San Jose properties for ‘viable’ development

Google is nearing ownership of enough downtown San Jose properties and parcels to create a “viable” transit-oriented development.

The development will take place near the Diridon train station, a top company executive told a key advisory group this week.

During a meeting of the Station Area Advisory Group, formed to gather and process citizen input about Google’s proposal to develop a massive transit village near Diridon Station, Google executives offered the company’s first major presentation of its development philosophies and plans for downtown San Jose. The search giant also indicated that it is creating a critical mass of properties where it could build a transit-oriented community downtown.

“Just to get the sites together by itself is obviously very complicated, and it’s not completed yet, and it’s taking a while,” Mark Golan, Google’s vice president real estate development, told the advisory group during its Monday night meeting. “But we are getting close to having a site that is viable.”

Mountain View-based Google and its development ally Trammell Crow have spent at least $221.6 million buying an array of properties on the western edges of downtown San Jose, within and near a one-mile stretch that begins north of the SAP Center and reaches south nearly to Interstate 280.

Among the major recent deals: The Google and Trammell Crow venture bought a large site that now is occupied by Orchard Supply Hardware, and the search giant has struck a deal to purchase a huge property from Trammell Crow that is approved for 1 million square feet, hundreds of residences and retail.

Despite the extensive work and investments that have occurred already, construction isn’t going to begin tomorrow, Google executives cautioned.

Read more from Santa Cruz Sentinel

 

 

Developers in contract to buy Oakland tower site

Two developers are in contract to buy a tower site next to Oakland’s 19th Street BART station, potentially kickstarting construction.

Danville-based Behring Cos. has an option to buy the land at 1900 Broadway, according to an agreement filed in November. The deal hasn’t closed.

John Herr, executive vice president at Lincoln Property Co., said at a Bisnow event on Wednesday that the company is partnering with Behring on the project. It would be Lincon’s first project in Oakland, and the company would join a wave of new developers that are fueling the city’s biggest development boom in decades.

Read more from San Francisco Business Times

Presidio Terrace: South Bay couple sues to win back street

Jilted investors trying to crowdfund legal fees

Tina Lam and Michael Cheng, the South Bay couple who bought the privately owned Presidio Terrace street for a mere $90,100 in 2015 and then saw the legal sale overturned by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, are now suing the city in Superior Court to undo that decision.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier and Ross report that Lam and Cheng’s attorneys are arguing that the board overstepped its authority. The suit comes as no surprise, since Cheng telegraphed his intentions to sue by taking the unusual step of opening a GoFundMe page to finance the action.

According to Cheng’s “Presidio Terrace defense fund” campaign, he and Lam feel slighted and singled out by San Francisco lawmakers, particularly Supervisor Mark Farrell, whose district includes Presidio Terrace.

Read more from Curbed SF

Haight neighbors claim 100 percent affordable housing project at McDonald’s is too tall

The rent is too damn high, and to correct this, every San Franciscan is clamoring for The City to build affordable housing — and a lot of it. But one pocket of our sleepy little town is drumming up opposition to a plan for affordable housing at the site of the McDonald’s restaurant on Stanyan Street.

The problem? It’s too tall, they say.

The Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council — or HANC, as they’re called — penned a public letter in late December laying out its support for the project, in general, but voiced concern that a 65-foot, 7-story-tall development would “substantially change the character of the area,” due to its “height and bulk.”

Read more from the San Francisco Examiner

Silicon Valley’s largest commercial real estate leases of 2017 (so far)

So far, 2017 hasn’t been a feverish year for commercial real estate leasing, especially compared to busy 2015 and 2016, but analysts agree that it has been a good, stable year with plenty of important moves.

Among them are WeWork’s largest ever lease that just happens to be in a brand-new development in Mountain View. Meanwhile, Menlo Park-based social media giant Facebook is rapidly growing, inking multiple massive new leases in the area, and Amazon continued to spread its reach throughout the Valley with a renewed focus on the South Bay.

Read more from Silicon Valley Business Times

Uber sells Uptown Station HQ to Oakland firm

Uber announced in August that it was putting Uptown Station—the new mixed-use development right downtown in the onetime Sears building on Broadway that only recently shed the white plastic cocoon that enshrouded it during rehab—up for sale without ever moving a single employee into its planned headquarters.

But it didn’t take long for an interested buyer to start making eyes at the circa 1929 Beaux-Arts building.

Back in October, the San Francisco Business Times reported that the Oakland-base investment firm CIM Group planned to buy the whole 356,000-square-foot building for $175 million.

As Tuesday morning, CIM announced the sale via press release. The announcement doesn’t include the sale price, and spokesperson Karen Diehl tells Curbed SF “CIM never discusses financial arrangements.”

Uber previous paid $123.5 million for the place, putting millions more into the rehab.

Read more from Curbed SF

San Francisco homeowners want city to give back their street bought by San Jose investor

An investor scooped up one of the toniest private streets in San Francisco after its wealthy owners didn’t pay property taxes for years, a sale that the well-connected homeowners want city leaders to reverse Tuesday.

By taking up the issue, officials have sparked criticism that the city is not as fair and equitable as it claims, but a playground for the rich who don’t have to play by the same rules as everyone else. San Francisco has some of the most exorbitant property prices in the country and has become increasingly unaffordable for many people.

Read more from Mercury News

Economy Watch: Industrial Sector on Top in 2017

The industrial sector has emerged as the growth leader in commercial real estate, according to a new report by Morningstar, a notion that’s in agreement with the wider consensus about industrial now leading income-generating real estate. As a darling among owners and investors, apartments may still be strong, but the industrial sector is the rising star.

That’s thanks to Amazon and e-commerce as a whole. Industrial logistics space outperformed office, retail, apartment and even light industrial space in terms of supply, demand, occupancy and rent growth in the first half of 2017, noted the report.

Read more from Commercial Property Executive