Google unveils broad vision for San Jose’s Diridon Station as some community members rally to halt the plans

 

Google announced nearly a year ago that it had visions of a mixed-use campus spanning up to 8 millions square feet in San Jose’s Diridon Station.

Since then, the tech giant has invested heavily in real estate in the area. Google has begun to lay out a high-level vision for San Jose’s Diridon Station area, a 240-acre swath of land around the city’s primary transit hub where the company has dreams of building a massive mixed-use campus.

But barely as Joe Van Belleghem, senior director of development for Google cleared his throat to start a presentation that would outline a framework for long corridors filled with retail, homes, art and a cluster of office buildings, more than a dozen city residents marched in, banner and signs in hand.

“OK now Google, we know you’re bad,” the protesters yelled. “Don’t need you here, we’ve got our own, turn around and go home!”

 

 

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Exclusive: East Bay shopping center lands new grocery tenant to anchor redevelopment strategy

The new owners of the regional mall have mapped out a multi-phased plan to redevelop the East Bay property into a shopping and entertainment geared toward the region’s strong Asian demographic.

LBG Funds has finalized a 35,000-square-foot lease with Taiwanese grocer 99 Ranch Market to anchor the first of four phases that the Los-Angeles-based investor is planning for the once-struggling Richmond property.

Rebranded as the Shops at Hilltop, the first phase will also include leases for 55,000 square feet of restaurant space; new tenants for a 20,000-square-foot food hall and 12,000-square-foot food court; as well as a variety of incoming shops, entertainment and pop-up uses.

LBG is estimating work on the first retail phase will be completed in mid-2019.

 

 

Read more from San Francisco Business Times

 

 

 

Facebook’s building permits soar past $1B in its hometown of Menlo Park

Facebook may be rapidly expanding its footprint across the Bay Area, but a new report shows the social media giant is still highly focused on — and invested in — its hometown of Menlo Park.

In recent years, Facebook has filed building permits valued at more than $1 billion in the small Peninsula city, according to an analysis by Kelsey Graeber of BuildZoom, a San Francisco-based startup that tracks building permits to connect property owners with contractors.

“Menlo Park has been our home since 2011 and we’ll continue to be a responsible corporate citizen as we grow in this community,” John Tenanes, the company’s vice president of global facilities and real estate told Silicon Valley Business Journal in a statement on Tuesday.

Facebook declined to confirm specific dollar amounts for the campus, often referred to as its “West Campus,” and it’s worth noting that building permits are not an exact science.

The values on the publicly available permits are companies’ best estimate early on of what a given project will cost, and often fall below what is actually spent on a building. The permits generally do not include costs for items like small change orders, furniture or some fixtures for instance.

 

Read more from Silicon Valley Business Journal

 

 

Oakland, A’s begin Coliseum ballpark negotiations

The Oakland A’s now have the blessing to study both the Coliseum and Howard Terminal in their quest to build a new ballpark in Oakland.

The Oakland City Council on Tuesday night approved an “exclusive negotiating agreement” with the A’s, allowing the two to begin talks about constructing a ballpark at the Coliseum, the MLB team’s home for 50 years.

In vote taken just before midnight, the council entered into an agreement to negotiate with the A’s over the next nine months, while President Dave Kaval studies if the 112-acre East Oakland site is the right fit. The city can extend the negotiations for an additional three months.

“This decision about a new privately-financed ballpark is a really important moment not only for the A’s but our community,” Kaval told council. “We look forward to working together not only this year but for many years to come.”

Last month, the A’s and the Port of Oakland agreed to study Howard Terminal, located near Jack London Square and the estuary. Kaval has called the study of two sites “parallel paths” to keep the team in Oakland.

Though an aging complex, the Coliseum has had some bites from developers lately. Walnut Creek developer Mark Hall approached the city to build a 15,000-18,000 seat soccer stadium for a United Soccer League franchise. The city said another person proposed to build a corporate campus at the Coliseum.

While Howard Terminal needs environmental review and has access issues, an environmental review for the Coliseum is already completed. It’s also favored for its proximity to BART, Interstate 880 and the Oakland International Airport.

 

 

Read more from East Bay Times

 

 

Exclusive: $75 million renovation, office conversion proposed at San Francisco’s biggest shopping mall

Westfield San Francisco Centre, the city’s largest shopping center, could see a $75 million makeover and partial office space conversion. 

Mall landlords Westfield Corp. and Forest City Realty Trust Inc. proposed this week a renovation of tenant spaces, a new facade with more glass, and three new outdoor terraces for the 865 Market St. portion of the property. The companies also want to convert existing retail, storage and meeting space into 49,999 square feet of office space on the seventh and eighth floors. The proposal requires approval from the City Planning Commission.

Numerous retail spaces in the Bay Area and elsewhere are seeking to convert to office amid turmoil in the shopping sector.

 

Read more from San Francisco Business Times

 

 

Is proximity to mass transit becoming less of a draw for apartment renters?

In the few years since companies like Uber and Lyft began to offer their ride sharing and carpooling options to riders in San Francisco, the premium earned by apartments near mass transit has dropped.

Apartment dwellers have traditionally been willing to pay a premium to live near mass transit stops in urban markets. But fueled by the proliferation of ride-sharing services, a rise in use of electric vehicles and other factors, that allure has begun to lessen in the Golden Gate City and that effect could spread elsewhere, according to new findings from MetLife Investment Management.

“When we look at what makes real estate assets most attractive to tenants, access to transit has traditionally been near the top of the list,” says Adam Ruggiero, head of real estate research for MetLife, which recently released its new report, “On the Road Again: How Advances in Transportation Are Shaping the Future of Real Estate.”

Apartment renters have more options to get around, which may be diluting the amount of extra rent that they are willing to pay to live near a subway stop or light rail station. In the few years since companies like Uber and Lyft began to offer their ride sharing and carpooling options to riders in San Francisco, the premium earned by apartments near mass transit has dropped—but not disappeared.

“It might lower the spread but it does not erase the spread,” says Justin Bakst, director of capital markets for CoStar Risk Analytics, which provided data for the MetLife report.

The introduction of ride sharing and carpooling services in San Francisco coincided with a decline in rental premiums for on-transit apartments (defined properties within a five-minute walk of a transit stop) from a historical average of 20 percent to only 15 percent today, according to the MetLife report

 

Read more from National Real Estate Investor

 

 

Oakland’s exclusive deal to sell city-owned land to charter school draws opposition

The City of Oakland is poised to sell a large plot of land it owns in the Fruitvale neighborhood to a private developer for the purpose of building a new charter school campus.

But the project — and the city’s years-long involvement in it — is suddenly drawing criticism from education and affordable housing activists who say it reflects Oakland’s lack of transparency when deciding how to use public property.

Under the proposed terms of the deal, the city will sell a 9,000-square-foot parcel on Derby Avenue between International Boulevard and E. 15th Street for $450,000. The buyer, an Idaho-based company called Pacific West Communities, Inc. plans to construct a new school campus on the site for the Aspire charter organization’s ERES Academy, a K-8th grade school. The campus was approved by the city planning commission last month.

ERES Academy’s staff say the new facility is critical because the building they’re currently in — located one mile away on Courtland Avenue and leased from a church — is too small.

“The physical nature of the classrooms is super-constrained,” Aspire’s Dean of Students Jesse Johnson told the city planning commission last month. “The children are bumping into each other. It’s crammed.”

ERES Academy currently has 217 students, according to state records, but Aspire, which operates 40 charter schools in California and Tennessee, hopes to grow. The proposed new school campus could accommodate more than 600 students.

City staff say the land deal will put the property, which used to be part of an auto dealership, back into productive use, and that new charter school is in the public’s interest. They also say the city is coming out financially ahead by selling the land.

 

Read more from East Bay Express

 

 

Silicon Valley growth spurs huge office, R&D building boom

A huge wave of commercial property construction is underway in the Bay Area, and Silicon Valley’s economic boom is fueling the growth, according to a report released Wednesday.

Construction of new buildings for offices, research and development and industrial uses is galloping ahead at a “feverish” pace, a report stated.

“This is a construction boom like no other,” said Russell Hancock, president of San Jose-based Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a private-public organization. “There is a lot of confidence in the Silicon Valley economy. People who are developing buildings are quite sure that they are going to get leased up. And they are getting leased up.”

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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