Builders, Developers Focus On Ways To Save Costs, Build More Housing Units In Oakland, Bay Area

With rising construction costs, a costly entitlement process and labor shortages, Bay Area developers are looking into new ways to build housing more cost-effectively.

Developers are utilizing density bonuses, adding more efficiencies into construction, exploring modular units and prefab and experimenting with new techniques to keep costs down and get more projects off the ground.

Even though there are 17,000 units at different planning stages in Oakland, many of these units rent in the $3K to $4K range, which is not affordable for a majority of people in the Bay Area, oWow founder Danny Haber said during Bisnow’s Alameda County Multifamily and Mixed-Use event in Oakland.

His company’s focus has been on creating macro-units with efficient design that lead to three- and four-bedroom units that are more cost-effective to build and end up being 50% more affordable than their market-rate counterparts.

“The biggest amenity today … is affordable housing and access to jobs and opportunities to work,” Haber said.

Read more from Bisnow

 

 

Development without gentrification? Oakland’s Fruitvale is the model, report says

Oakland’s Fruitvale transit village has been a boon to the surrounding community without gentrification

The cluster of shops, community service organizations and apartments at the Fruitvale BART station may not seem all that different from other commercial plazas, but to some economists and urban planners, it’s the grand prize of development — at least, for now.

Researchers from UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative say the transit village has been a boon to the surrounding neighborhood without resulting in gentrification. As many low-income and working class residents across the state are forced to leave urban areas due to rising rents and home prices, the UCLA researchers said Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood has held onto its existing residents, along with its signature Mexican-American culture.

“It’s the holy grail of urban planning,” said Alexander Quinn, an economist with Hatch, who reviewed the study’s findings, “to say we improved the place and the people who live there are better off.”

But long-time residents, academics and elected officials question whether Oakland’s Mexican-American mecca can continue to withstand the pressure of the region’s booming economy.  And, to them, the tide may already be turning.

Read more from East Bay Times

 

 

San Francisco’s largest office landlord to break ground on $265 million Oakland tower

Boston Properties, San Francisco’s largest office landlord, will break ground on May 2 on a 402-unit apartment tower next to Oakland’s MacArthur BART station.

The 260-foot project at 532 39th St. will be the tallest building in North Oakland and the company’s first residential project on the West Coast.

The project in the Temescal district will be among a half-dozen Oakland towers to start construction in the last two years, an unprecedented real estate boom that’s drawing some of the country’s biggest developers to the city. Other developers include Lennar Multifamily Communities, Shorenstein Properties and Carmel Partners.

Read more from San Francisco Business Times

 

 

Wiener scales back bill that would allow taller housing near public transit

State Sen. Scott Wiener scales back a controversial housing proposal.

The proposed bill would strip local governments of their ability to block construction of taller and denser apartment and condominium buildings near public transit stops, and conceded the bill might not make it through the Legislature this year.

The San Francisco Democrat introduced amendments to his SB827 late Monday that would lower the maximum height of buildings that could go up as a result of the bill to five stories from eight. Also, the bill would take effect in 2021 instead of 2019.

Wiener made the amendments ahead of the bill’s first hearing April 17 in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. If passed, the bill will then head to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.

“The bill is not guaranteed to survive either committee,” Wiener said Tuesday. “It’s a hard bill. Hopefully, we pass through these committees and live to fight another day, but if not, then we will try again next year. It’s very common in the Legislature that for hard bills, sometimes you have to try multiple times.”

The measure would override local height limits on proposed four- and five-story apartment and condo buildings in residential areas if they are within a half mile of major transit hubs, such as a BART or Caltrain station. It also would limit cities’ ability to block denser buildings within a quarter-mile of highly used bus and light-rail stops, but amendments eliminated new height requirements.

Read more from San Francisco Chronicle

 

 

Oakland parking garage next to City Hall could join development wave

More Oakland parking is being studied for new development.

A closed garage next to Oakland City hall could join the development wave that’s transformed over a thousand parking spaces into new buildings.

Oakland city staff are studying the demolition of the 335-space public parking structure at 1414 Clay St. and construction of either a new hotel or office building. The garage closed in December 2016 due to seismic safety concerns.

A city report recommends that Oakland seek an office project on the site because it’s more financially viable than a hotel. It also recommends requiring 51 parking spaces rather than 273 spaces, which would replace some of the previously used parking but could threaten the financial viability of a new project.

The stance is consistent with Oakland’s efforts to cut parking in new downtown projects and promote the use of public transit, “rather than continuing to subsidize the cost of private vehicle ownership and use,” according to the report.

Patrick Lane, the city’s manager of public/private development, said there isn’t a schedule for seeking developers for the site and it would likely happen after the city updates its public lands policy. The City Council may require higher fees and on-site affordable housing in new projects on public land, as activists push for more funding for low-income residents.

The city is also seeking development of two other public sites at 1911 Telegraph Ave. and 1800 San Pablo Ave, which could also be subject to the public lands policy.

Read more from San Francisco Business Times

 

 

WeWork signs biggest lease of Q1 in San Francisco

WeWork just added 251K SF to its San Francisco footprint.

The co-working provider inked the city’s largest lease of the first quarter at the Union Bank Building with landlords Kennedy Wilson and Takenaka Corp., the San Francisco Business Times reports. WeWork signed an 18-year lease for all 20 floors and plans to renovate the building.

The JV bought the building at 400/430 California St. in 2016 for $135M when it was fully leased to MFUB Union Bank, which plans to vacate the building.

The co-working company began occupying it newest location this year at Salesforce Tower, where it leases 75K SF. WeWork has rapidly expanded its Bay Area footprint in recent years and signed leases for over 1M SF in 2017. It also has expanded into Oakland, San Jose and Mountain View within the last two years.

WeWork Managing Director for U.S. and Canada West Jon Slavet told the San Francisco Business Times that the company cannot keep up with demand in the Bay Area, where its community is now over 13,000 members. Its members range from startups to enterprise businesses.

WeWork plans to open its first phase at 430 California during Q1 2019.

Read more from Bisnow

 

 

Housing for North Berkeley BART?

BART and city leaders recently took the first steps toward a mixed-use housing development on the station’s parking lots, but there’s still a long road ahead.

In its early days, BART bulldozed houses to build massive parking lots for commuters to San Francisco, devastating several low-income communities in the East Bay. But then in the mid-1990s, the transit agency started a shift toward building housing, office, and retail around its stations instead. And during the past 15 years or so, the agency has been planning developments at most of its stations with surface parking lots — including projects at Ashby station in Berkeley and at most of its above-ground Oakland stations.

But the stations surrounding some of BART’s most desirable real estate have been excluded from development planning so far. For example, despite high home prices around the Rockridge BART station in North Oakland and the fact that it’s only a 20-minute ride to downtown San Francisco, BART has produced no development plans for the area to date.

For North Berkeley, a 25-minute ride from San Francisco, BART has at least considered building on the land. An overview of BART’s transit-oriented development strategy provided to this reporter last year included a map of existing, planned, and future development. North Berkeley was listed as a site for potential future development with 100-percent affordable housing, but BART had no more specific plans than that.

Read more from East Bay Express

 

 

San Francisco and Oakland Rents Inch up but Remain below Peak

Having ended last year lower than where they started, asking rents for apartments in San Francisco have inched up around one percent over the past two months, in part due to the typical seasonality in rents.

And in fact, based on a comparison of roughly 2,600 listings, the weighted average asking rent for an apartment in San Francisco, including one-off rentals as well as units in larger developments, is currently running around $4,100 a month, which is 0.9 percent lower versus the same time last year and 8.5 percent below its peak in the fourth quarter of 2015 with the average asking rent for a one-bedroom still running around $3,400 a month having ticked down from around $3,650.

At the same time, the weighted average asking rent for an apartment in Oakland is currently running around $2,450 a month which is 0.5 percent higher than at the same time last year but still 18 percent lower than a mid-2016 peak with the average asking rent for a one-bedroom still running around $2,100 a month, which remains around 40 percent cheaper than in San Francisco.

Read more from SocketSite

 

 

Scott Wiener’s controversial housing bill gained a big supporter in BART

The fight over SB 827, a proposed law from California State Sen. Scott Wiener to upzone development sites near transit centers, has supporters and detractors lining up in due course.

If approved by the legislature, the law would limit local control over density, parking spaces and heights for housing projects within a certain distance to transit stops. Proponents of the law pitch a symbiosis between housing development and transit options, with the proximity of the two mitigating traffic congestion.

Recently, the effort to pass the law added the region’s most heavily trafficked public transportation system as a proponent: Bay Area Rapid Transit. Earlier this month the BART Board narrowly voted 5-4 to support the measure.

In many cases, building on transit agency sites takes decades, with negotiations with multiple government agencies, substantial community input, difficulties with financing and expensive parking requirements all playing a role.

BART has shown a willingness to support transit oriented development before, approving a policy in 2016 that encourages 20,000 homes to be built on its land by 2040.

Read more from San Francisco Business Times

 

 

Oakland creates new policy director position to deal with housing crisis

Mayor Libby Schaaf has named Darin Ranelletti as the city’s first policy director for housing security, a position the mayor created and hopes will help ease Oakland’s affordable housing crisis.

Ranelletti is no stranger around City Hall: He has spent the past 15 years in the planning and building department, most recently as the interim director. In his new policy role, Ranelletti is expected to promote new housing available to all income levels and work to protect longtime residents from being pushed out of Oakland’s market.

“This new position gives the Mayor’s Office the resources needed to address the housing crisis effectively and with urgency,” Schaaf said in a statement Thursday. “Darin’s 360-degree perspective begins with his work in the City’s Planning & Building Department to increase Oakland’s housing production at a record pace this year, as well as his recent efforts to protect tenants and safeguard our city’s affordable housing stock. He also has a deep passion and commitment to equity.”

Read more at East Bay Times