Exclusive: Chinese developer brings on local development muscle as it digs into Santa Clara megaproject

A Chinese company has brought on local development help as it studies the feasibility of building a 10.5 million-square-foot mixed-use development in Santa Clara — a project that local insiders say could get even bigger.

The Chinese developer working on getting approvals for a 10.5 million-square-foot-development on a former Yahoo site in Santa Clara appears to have forged a formal relationship with a local developer to help with the process.

Harmonie Park Development last week announced in a tweet it was “excited to be named development advisor to Kylli.”

Kylli Inc., an American subsidiary of Shenzhen, China-based pharmaceuticals and real estate company Genzon, earlier this year got unanimous approval from Santa Clara City Council members to study amending the city’s general plan to grow the allowed development for the 48.6-acre site roughly at 3005 Democracy Way more than three-fold.

One local land use consultant now says the project could get even bigger, according to conversations he’s had with people purporting to be involved with the project.

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California Senate stalls transit-housing bill

Citing not enough affordable housing, vote against leaves Senator Scott Wiener’s signature bill in limbo

After months of public wrangling and amendment, San Francisco’s State Senator Scott Wiener finally brought his signature transit-housing bill SB 827 before the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee in Sacramento Tuesday, where it stalled on a 6-4 vote that leaves it in limbo.

SB 827 would have radically changed how California cities zone for height and density by making it illegal to place height limits below four to five stories (depending on the locale) along major transit routes.

Thanks to San Francisco’s extensive bus network, this would have applied to virtually every parcel in the city. But even cities with far less skin in the game, like Lafayette and Berkeley, complained that the bill redirected too much control from local municipalities to the state.

Calling local control “important but not biblical,” Wiener again labored on Tuesday to frame the bill as a necessary step given the scope of the crisis.

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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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

San Jose mayor counters Evergreen Senior Homes initiative with own proposal

Sam Liccardo is concerned the initiative could open San Jose to new sprawling development.

San Jose City Council’s strategy to fend off a ballot initiative over a development in Evergreen — one it fears could override its general plan for land use — is a ballot measure of its own.

But attorneys for the private residential developers behind an initiative backed by more than 35,000 signatures say the city’s gambit will lose in court.

“We will pursue litigation,” elections attorney Sean Welch warned the council on Tuesday as his microphone was silenced at the end of his two minutes’ speaking time.

Mayor Sam Liccardo’s last-minute agenda addition to put a rival measure on the June ballot to override the one from Ponderosa Homes and developer Carl Berg, which won its ballot place through a petition drive, is yet to win City Council approval. All 10 members present Tuesday voted to delay final consideration until 8:30am on Thursday.

Read more from Silicon Valley Business Journal

 

 

Chase Center starting to look like an arena

Future home of the Warriors comes to life

It’s been a full year since the Chase Center, future home of the Golden State Warriors, broke ground in San Francisco’s Mission Bay. And now—at last—it’s beginning to take shape, with a visible arena oval, giving a clear sense of what’s to come.

Only three months ago it didn’t look like much. What a difference three months make. Roughly 450 workers per day work to construct the billion-dollar project

The Chase Center isn’t scheduled for completion until the end of 2019, so this project will take its time. Once completed, the 18,000-seat arena will also boast 100,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, as well as five-plus acres of public waterfront park.

Read more from Curbed SF

Bill could add millions of new homes next to California’s public transit stations

California State Senator Scott Wiener proposed a trio of new housing bills on Thursday, including one that would make it easier to build taller projects near public transit.

Wiener (D-San Francisco)’s SB 827 calls for the statewide removal of single-family home and parking requirements for projects within a half-mile of transit hubs like BART, Muni and Caltrain stations.

The bill would mandate height limits of at least 45 feet to 85 feet for new projects, depending on how close they are to transit. Cities would be able to raise height limits beyond those minimums, and developers could also build smaller projects within the areas if they chose.

Read more from San Francisco Business Times