Young couples and retirees ditch the city for a new kind of suburb

The term “surban” describes a suburban community that offers the conveniences of urban life.

John Burns Real Estate Consulting trademarked the word in 2016. Urban planners have long described a marriage of residential and commercial as “mixed-use” communities. This surban concept, while not novel, has been gaining popularity over the past few years.

Chris Porter, chief demographer at John Burns, said it’s a no-brainer option for many Americans, especially younger couples without kids and empty nesters. Surban communities are often near transit hubs and also have amenities like boutique fitness options, high-quality grocery stores and popular restaurants.

“It’s about lifestyle. There’s this idea that urban environments traditionally don’t have great public schools and the suburban environments do. That’s why you actually see a lot of families, once they start to have kids, moving to the suburbs for school quality. You’ve got lower crime in suburban areas than you would have in urban areas. In urban areas you have walkability and public transportation… bringing some of those things to the suburbs in small downtown areas is really the concept that we see — the concept of surban,” he said in a new podcast.

Projects like Irvine Spectrum, a mega outdoor shopping mall with a residential village adjacent to it, and San Jose’s Santana Row, which brands itself as a “small town feel inside the big city,” are cropping up across California.

City Place in Edgewater, New Jersey, which has luxury apartments sitting above stores like Anthropologie, is right next to a multiplex cinema. Developers are even investing in teacher’s villages that offer the best of both urban and suburban worlds.

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Developer proposes nearly 1,000 units near Richmond BART station

A project that began over 15 years ago could be on the road to fruition.

Two developers are battling to bring hundreds of homes to Richmond.

In coming months, the City Council will choose between San Francisco’s oWow and SAA/EIR as the developer for a 5.8-acre parcel across the street from the Richmond BART station. The project is the second phase of the Richmond Transit Village or Metro Walk, a nearly 17-acre vision of housing and retail that has been in the works for over 15 years.

“This is the dram site,” said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt. “It fulfills a lot of the goals and objectives of sustainable policies from the city level to the state level.”

 

 

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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.

 

 

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Mall tenants had an out when giants like Macy’s left. Now landlords bar the door

The only thing more dangerous for America’s malls than a string of apparel-chain bankruptcies is when the trouble hits department stores.

Retailers like J.C. Penney Co. and Macy’s Inc. are considered “anchors” that keep malls humming and foot traffic flowing. They’re so important to the ecosystem that smaller tenants may refuse to set up shop without a promise that the anchors will stick around: Many leases include so-called co-tenancy clauses that let them cut and run or pay less if those key tenants depart.

Now, many landlords are pushing to eliminate or narrow the escape clauses in the wake of mass department-store closings. That means less flexibility for the remaining tenants.

 

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Facebook creates three huge Bay Area job hubs for expansion

Facebook has created three Bay Area work hubs that each total at least one million square feet, following big leases with two legendary developers that widen its Silicon Valley footprint.

The tech titan could employ as many as 19,000 in the expansion sites, located in Fremont, Sunnyvale, and Menlo Park.

The social networking giant is already expanding in its hometown of Menlo Park and has signed a mammoth lease in Sunnyvale. Now, it has signed major leases with Sobrato Organization and Peery Arrillaga totaling 18 buildings in a part of Fremont near the Dumbarton Bridge’s east end.

The most recent set of leases in Fremont total 1.04 million square feet, according to Facebook.

 

 

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Oakland housing developers turn to new ways of building to reduce costs

Rising construction costs are pushing Oakland developers to rethink traditional construction methods to make sure much-needed housing continues to get built.

“It is an issue right now that we are all facing increased construction costs,” UrbanCore Development CEO Michael Johnson said during Bisnow’s recent Oakland Construction & Development Update event. “What will happen is some projects will not move forward as a result of that.”

Double-digit increases in the cost of new construction projects are not driven solely by increases in material costs, but also by higher profit margins and greater labor costs as contractors struggle to find a qualified workforce, he said.

Several developers have turned toward using modular units, designing more efficient floor plans and creating new building technologies.

OWow is developing a type of unit that can adjust the number of bedrooms with a push of a button. Mechanized, acoustically rated walls would raise and lower to create up to four bedrooms, oWow founder Danny Haber said. His company has been building macro-units in Oakland that use efficient design to cut down on construction costs.

Other developers have been pursuing modular construction. UrbanCore Development decided to go modular on its Coliseum Connections project about five years ago, Johnson said. Conventional construction was more expensive, and an analysis estimated about a 10% cost savings on a $40M construction budget, he said.

The modular units are expected to be fully in place by Friday and the 110-unit mixed-income housing project is expected to be completed in January.

 

Read more on Bisnow

 

 

 

The era of big leases is over as San Francisco awaits next crop of towers

The era of massive office leases — including the likes of Salesforce, Dropbox and Facebook — is coming to a halt now that most of San Francisco’s pipeline of new office buildings is spoken for. Robust demand for office space has filled up buildings months or years ahead of completion, but development is drying up.

In May, another company declared it had signed the “biggest office lease ever” in San Francisco. The trend of going bigger and bigger started with Salesforce taking 714,000 square feet in Salesforce Tower at 415 Mission St. in 2014 followed by Dropbox taking 736,000 square feet in 2017 in the Exchange in Mission Bay. Then Facebook topped both with a deal to gobble up the entire, 750,000-square-foot Park Tower.

But, the era of massive office leases is coming to a halt — at least for the next few years — now that most of San Francisco’s pipeline of new office buildings is spoken for. Robust demand for office space has filled up buildings months or years ahead of completion, but development is drying up.

Some industry insiders say more building would be going on if it weren’t for Proposition M, a 1986 voter-approved law that limits how much office space can be approved in a given year. Still, others say that factors such as the lengthy city approval process and availability of development sites has also put the brakes on office development.

 

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

Free time and fun: the new must-haves at apartments

As the luxury multifamily market approaches a peak, apartment owners and managers turning to social amenities to engage residents at their properties.

The new must-have amenity for luxury apartment projects? Time.

During this economic growth cycle apartment developers have engaged in a virtual arms race of amenities. Most were physical goodies they could tout in property tours – features like furnished guest suites for resident’s out-of-town visitors, rooftop pools, and walk-in lobby refrigerators for food deliveries.

Now, say apartment developers and property managers, the trend is towards providing services that save residents time, or experiences that make effective use of it.

Across the country high-end apartments are now offering a host of new services to attract renters: dog-walking, wine tastings, poker nights, errand-runners.

“There’s this feeling that the amenities war has run its course – everyone has the same check list on their website,” said Tom Geyer, vice president of branding at the Bozzuto Group, the Greenbelt, MD.-based developer and apartment manager.

“But I do think the battle of services is a newfound strategy to build value.”

Bozzuto, which owns or manages more than 60,000 units up and down the East Coast, has become a specialist in adding these experience-based and time-saving services, and notes the appeal of service and experience-based amenities goes across all age groups.

For its part, Geyer said Bozzuto doesn’t try to mold their properties to fit a certain age group – for millennials, say.

Rather, the company sees its properties and tenants in terms of “tribes.” Some properties have a preponderance of bike riders, some have dog owners, and others are dominated by retirees looking for urban living experiences.

“Most of our residents are not non-social people,” said Geyer. “Building amenity space is about supporting interaction, looking for a chance meeting of the tribe.”

For example, Geyer said residents aren’t just interested in an onsite gym, they want access to classes.

“Classes are the number one thing, group classes,” he said.

That means not just adding amenities, but re-designing some of the existing amenity spaces. Gyms have to be designed to accommodate the new trends of cross-fit, PX-90 workouts. And equipment has to be placed to accommodate classes.

National Development, a multifamily developer and manager based in Boston, agrees with the new thinking. It hired a full-time marketing and community engagement manager who coordinates events for a dozen National Development properties.

“It’s not an either-or proposition,” said Ted Tye, a managing partner at National Development. “There’s been a real push for physical amenities, and that hasn’t abated. Layered on top of that, as the market gets more competitive, is the social amenity.”

 

 

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Big downtown San Jose office, retail Museum Place complex pushes ahead

A new vision has emerged for a crucial downtown San Jose development known as Museum Place that would add offices and retail next to The Tech Museum of Innovation, according to city documents being reviewed this week.

Some details about the new Museum Place approach were contained in San Jose city staff reports regarding an agreement to bring aboard a group led by realty entrepreneur Gary Dillabough. The Dillabough group will provide fresh capital and investments to get the project moving forward. This news organization had reported previously about Dillabough’s planned involvement in the Museum Place development on Park Avenue.

“The developer has a formidable vision for San Jose’s future,” according to a memo prepared by Kim Walesh, San Jose’s economic development director. “Mr. Dillabough has indicated a strong desire to make the Museum Place project a standout location that the City of San Jose can look to with pride.”

 

 

Read more on The Mercury News

 

 

Exclusive: Huge cannabis business campus headed to Oakland

Will this business park near Oakland’s Oracle Arena be California’s next big hub of cannabis innovation?

A sleepy Oakland business park a stone’s throw from Oracle Arena may be transformed into the Bay Area’s next big cannabis business campus.

Mesh Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on investing in cannabis startups, hopes to turn an office complex on Edgewater Drive into a center of the region’s cannabis manufacturing, marketing and production.

“It’s going to look very much like a tech campus,” said Mesh Ventures Partner Parker Berling.

The complex is master leased to Mesh Ventures Partner Martin Kaufman who is making around $20 million in infrastructure and tenant improvements.

California Capital and Investment Group bought the 207,700-square-foot office property in 2013 for $7.8 million, but has struggled to fill it. Kaufman said the Mesh Ventures team saw the opportunity of creating a campus in an area with access to top-tier scientific and technological talent.

“Sure, we could have done this in Fresno or Humboldt and t would have been cheaper but the level of people that we have here are unmatched anywhere else,” Kaufman said. “We have academics, scientists, really trained qualified people who are located here and are looking to enter the industry as it turns from a black market to a white market.”

Kaufman is the co-founder of dispensary Blum Oakland, which was sold in 2016 to Irvine-based cannabis agriculture company Terra Tech.

The center is being built out with the particular security and regulatory concerns of the cannabis industry in mind. Berline said roughly three-fourths of the tenants will be cannabis companies, mainly from the firm’s investment portfolio. Tenants are starting to move into the campus – which already has a functioning grow operation – and the renovations are expected to be completed by the end of the year. Leasing rates are rates around $2 per square foot.

 

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times