Is Richmond the new Oakland? New ferry terminal attracts SF homebuyers, stokes gentrification fears

During his 16 years selling homes in Richmond, realtor Mark Lederer has always seen buyers from San Francisco looking in the East Bay city.

But he says those numbers have gone up recently, thanks to both skyrocketing prices in SF and the soon-to-open Richmond-SF ferry service. In fact, he estimates that 30 to 40 percent of buyers in Point Richmond and Marina Bay, the two areas closest to the ferry, are moving from San Francisco.

“Most SF buyers see tremendous value in the different neighborhoods in Richmond,” he says. “This is because the price per square foot is less than half that of homes in San Francisco’s most desirable districts.”

He says high-end condos in Point Richmond have been going for up to $950,000, with prices starting as low as $500,000. In Marina Bay, the price point is a bit lower, with condos and townhomes starting at $300,000 and going up to the mid-$700,000 range.

Those looking for a single-family home are attracted to North and East Richmond, which is a five-minute drive or 15-minute bike ride to the new ferry terminal. “This neighborhood is full of 1920s homes that mimic those found in El Cerrito, Albany and Berkeley,” he says. “Prices range from $325,000 to $731,000 for a home. This area has seen tremendous growth over the last couple of years and a spike once the ferry terminal was announced.”

San Franciscans are certainly attracted to the prices in Richmond, but they also have their concerns, including what Lederer calls Richmond’s “tough crime-ridden image.” But he says this perception doesn’t do justice to all that Richmond has to offer. “The roughest parts of Richmond are an isolated area that is very small as compared to the entirety of Richmond,” he says. “Most of Richmond is full of beautiful housing, water access, beaches, trail and hillside access, great restaurants, fun pubs and great entertainment.”

Richmond realtor Cherie Carson compares Richmond to another East Bay city that has gotten a lot of attention from San Francisco buyers in recent years: Oakland. “Richmond is like Oakland in that there are many different neighborhoods to choose from,” she says.

Just like in Oakland, there are fears of gentrification from this new onslaught of buyers potentially driving up home values and rents. Richmond Vice Mayor Melvin Willis told the Chronicle that he’s concerned long-time residents could be priced out—not just in the tony neighborhoods closest to the ferry, but throughout the city. “If rents go up in certain areas around the ferry, that would cause rents to go up in other parts of Richmond,” Willis said.

 

 

 

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How will S.F.’s tallest buildings fare in the next big earthquake? Report expresses concerns

San Francisco’s tall buildings may be at risk of damage during the next big earthquake, a study released by research nonprofit Applied Technology Council (ATC) last week warns.

The 36-page report outlines vulnerability concerns over outdated building standards and provides a strategy for proactive safety checks.

The study’s release comes just days after cracks were found in two steel beams of San Francisco’s newly minted $2.2 billion Transbay Transit Center, and as Millennium Tower next door continues to sink and tilt. Last year, the late Mayor Ed Lee commissioned the report, which was prepared by a group of engineers.

The report probed the city’s 156 tallest buildings — either constructed or permitted for construction — that are at least 240 feet high, primarily located in San Francisco’s Financial District. About 60 percent of these buildings house business and office space, while the rest are zoned residential.

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

2nd crack at SF Transbay Transit Center — to stay closed through next week

San Francisco’s new Transbay Transit Center will remain closed at least through the end of next week, officials said Wednesday, after yet another cracked beam was discovered during an overnight safety inspection.

The $2.2 billion hub for buses and eventually trains, which opened just last month as the flashy centerpiece of city infrastructure, was closed abruptly Tuesday afternoon after a fissure was spotted in a beam that helps hold up the sprawling complex.

The initial tear runs about 2½ feet long and 4 inches deep through the bottom of a 60-foot-long beam that supports both the center’s celebrated rooftop park above and a bus deck below, officials said. The beam is located over Fremont Street, between Mission and Howard streets. The second crack is in a parallel steel beam that also crosses Fremont Street. It was described as slightly smaller.

Representatives of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, which built and operates the transit center, said Wednesday they didn’t know the causes of the cracks, but they remained concerned about the potential for the beams to fail. Fremont Street, which passes under the center, also is scheduled to stay closed through Oct. 5.

“We will not open the transit center or Fremont Street until we are certain the issue is 100 percent rectified,” said Mark Zabaneh, executive director of the TJPA.

 

Read more on San Francisco Chronicle

 

 

Business fees to fund housing will be studied in San Jose

The concern, even for some council members who voted for the study, is that despite its housing shortage, San Jose still has many more residents than jobs, which is the opposite of the situation in many surrounding cities.

The imposition of commercial linkage fees to fund below market-rate housing is still alive in San Jose after Tuesday’s 9-2 City Council vote to add a discussion of them to next week’s agenda.

The vote came on an item of how the city should respond to a Santa Clara civil jury report issued in June that included among its findings that the fees are overdue and would increase housing.

Five council members, including Mayor Sam Liccardo, wrote memos changing the staff-authored response of disagreement with the finding to say the city would consider a study to confirm the causal relationship between job creation and an increased need for housing and a second study of the feasibility of enacting fees.

 

 

Read more on Silicon Valley Business Journal

 

 

 

BART picks developers for huge housing and office development at Lake Merritt in Oakland

Bay Area Regional Transit officials selected a development team to revamp three city blocks above the Lake Merritt BART Station in Oakland.

The agency picked Strada Investment Group and the East Bay Asian Local Development Corp. to develop 1.4 acres into two high-rise towers with 519 homes and 517,000 square feet of commercial space.

EBALDC is one of Oakland’s top nonprofit housing developers with 27 communities in the city. San Francisco-based Strada has owned multiple office buildings in downtown Oakland and has developed multiple projects in various Bay Area cities.

The winning team beat out proposals from global real estate investor Hines, Menlo Park-based Lane Partners and a partnership of Oakland-based McGrath Properties Inc. and Canadian investor Brookfield Residential. Lane Partners came in second, according to a BART staff report.

The BART board will formally vote to select the Strada/EBALDC Team at its meeting Thursday and start a two-year exclusive negotiating agreement to finalize the project. if the two sides fail to negotiate a project in that time frame, BART could then give Lane Partners a shot without having to do another selection process.

BART has wanted to develop its land above the Lake Merritt Station for years. The goal is to boost BART ridership and attract more residents, businesses, and pedestrians to a relatively quiet stretch of Oakland nestled between the city’s core downtown and the lake.

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

 

Mayor wants to lure modular housing factory to SF to provide both homes, jobs

As San Francisco officials continue to scout locations for a factory that can churn out modular housing units, Mayor London Breed is lining up the city to be the first customer.

Breed is expected to announce Monday that the city is prepared to spend $100 million on hundreds of modular apartments that would grow the city’s stock of affordable housing.

Who will run the modular housing factory won’t be known for some time, though the leading plan is to seek a private operator on city-owned or city-leased property. And even after a site is selected, it will take years to get a factory up and running.

But Breed and other officials hope the early — and sizable — promise to buy will entice interested operators to set up shop in San Francisco.

Read more on SF Chronicle

Co-working space costs nearly 15% more than office space, study says. Is it worth it?

More than 1.7 million people will work in co-working spaces by the end of 2018, according to the Global Coworking Survey, and a staggering 29 percent of such spaces were opened over the last year.

Growth of this new workplace trend is most impressive in San Francisco, the city of seemingly infinite startups, many of which aren’t large enough to warrant an office space, but too big for the CEO’s living room.

San Francisco has 51.45 co-working spaces for every 100,000 people — more than any other city in the country — according to a new survey from business development tool SimpleTexting. The study compiled data from Yelp, the U.S. Census Bureau and multiple office-space rental websites.

The cost of co-working space for a single employee is actually more expensive than traditional office space, by about $400 a year in San Francisco, the study found. A years-long co-working pass in the city is about $4,572, compared to $4,200 in an office. Nationally, co-working rent costs an average 14.8 percent more per employee than traditional office space.

 

 

 

Read more on SF Gate

 

 

Facebook is bingeing on Bay Area real estate

As Wall Street frets over a slowdown, the social media giant’s expanding property empire suggests Mark Zuckerberg has few doubts about the future.

Since Facebook Inc. arrived in Menlo Park, California, seven years ago, the town has been overrun by construction cranes, orange safety cones and truckloads of building materials to transform a former industrial area into a sprawling campus that can support a $500 billion tech giant.

So big are the ambitions that the company plans to redevelop whole swaths of the land it holds in the Silicon Valley city, potentially doubling its workforce there over the next decade to 35,000 people—more than Menlo Park’s current population.

Even that won’t be enough for its expansion plans.

“We continue to grow,” John Tenanes, the company’s head of facilities, said in a conference room overlooking a salt marsh in Facebook’s newest Menlo Park office, a Frank Gehry-designed building called MPK 21 that opened last week. “We’re at a point where we needed more space, and this area couldn’t keep up.”

For all the turmoil surrounding Facebook and investor concerns about a slowdown, the company’s gone on a real estate binge that suggests that its optimism about its future knows no limits. Menlo Park is just the start. In the past year alone, the company has signed agreements that could vastly expand its footprint in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s been one of the most active leasers in the region’s already hot office market, spurring brokers and analysts to do math on just how it will fill so much space.

 

 

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Getting downtown ‘right’ in San Jose has been a trial-and-error process

The plan for San Jose’s downtown is years old. What’s new is that Google has bought into that vision.

The critical challenge of getting things right in the next iteration of downtown San Jose has been a hot issue at least since the 1980s, when downtown was torn up and many businesses suffered and died during construction of the Valley Transportation Authority’s light rail system.

Downtown’s future was a central focus of the thousands of people who participated in the four years of work that in 2011 produced the city’s latest general plan, Envision San Jose 2040, that anticipated Diridon’s status as a transit hub amidst 40,000 new jobs.

“This is not a novel idea we just came upon because Google came around last year,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

Kim Walesh, San Jose’s deputy city manager and economic development director, said the plan always envisioned “having an anchor developer who would do a cohesive master planned development in that central area.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that latest round of planning efforts and community engagement sparked by Google’s development announcement last year has pleased everyone who will be affected by what happens around Diridon.

 

 

Read more on Silicon Valley Business Journal

 

 

 

Oakland leaders declare Section 8 landlord incentive program a success

An incentive program aimed at bringing new landlords into the Section 8 low-income housing program — and keeping them around — has yielded positive results, with hundreds of new units added this year, Oakland city leaders announced today.

The three-tiered incentive program was launched by the Oakland Housing Authority in January. As of June 30, 75 new property owners had signed up to accept Section 8 housing vouchers.

“In just six months, 684 families have found stable, secure, affordable housing in Oakland. That is something to celebrate,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said at a press conference today.

Section 8, a federal program that provides rental assistance to qualifying low-income families, has been struggling in Oakland in recent years.

From 2015 to 2016, the Section 8 program shed more than 1,000 owners, according to Eric Johnson, executive director of the Oakland Housing Authority.

Since then, the program has been in “recovery mode,” he said, looking for ways to attract new owners.

“It can be a challenge to get to know us,” Johnson said. “We have lots of forms, and the first time through them is not easy.”

At a 2016 cabinet that discussed ideas to address Oakland’s housing and displacement crisis, city leaders identified incentives for Section 8 landlords as a priority.

 

 

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