Exclusive: East Bay’s NewPark Mall pushes plan for 1,500 homes next to stores

As malls across the country struggle to stay afloat in the face of stiff competition from online retailers, NewPark Mall in Newark is pushing ahead on a $1 billion redevelopment project.

Brookfield Retail Properties, which took over NewPark when it acquired the mall’s previous owner, Rouse Properties, in 2016, wants to redevelop the mall and surrounding land into a vibrant community of apartments, parks, hotels, office space and event centers.

“We want to see the mall repositioned to take it to the next level,” said Terrence Grindall, Newark’s assistant city manager.

 

 

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Sinking Millennium Tower’s window cracks, SF seeks answers about safety

The sinking Millennium Tower in San Francisco has another problem.

A cracked window on the 36th floor that’s prompted San Francisco officials to issue a citation requiring building engineers to report on the condition of the glass panel.

The window cracked early Sunday morning.

“At this time, we do not know what caused this fracture, though it appears to be limited to this one specific unit,” Bill Strawn, spokesman for the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection, said in a statement.

The 58-story residential tower has sunk more than 17 inches since it opened in 2009.

 

 

Full article on SFGate

 

 

 

 

UC Berkeley professor blames rent control for California’s housing shortage

Kenneth Rosen hopes to sway voters against Proposition 10.

Kenneth Rosen, a UC Berkeley economist and real estate consultant, published a paper Wednesday titled The Case For Preserving Costa Hawkins, in hopes of swaying voters against Proposition 10.

Proposition 10, which will go before voters in November, would repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Act, a state law that severely curtails rent control in California cities. For example, under Costa-Hawkins, only San Francisco apartments built before 1979 may be subject to rent control.

Passing Proposition 10 would not in and of itself create any new rent control housing, but it would allow cities to expand rent control stock for the first time in decades if they so choose.

Rosen, however, argues that turning the clock back to 1994 will stifle new housing and drain apartment stock.

 

Read more on Curbed SF

 

Facebook breaks ground on community hub devoted to nonprofits

Facebook will soon break ground on its latest development, but this time the social media company isn’t building offices — it is creating a nonprofit community hub.

The 12K SF community hub will provide much-needed space for nonprofits educating the community and youth about tech and coding. It is expected to open in early 2019.

Large tech companies and organizations have been devoting community spaces for nonprofits and events as part of their campus or office developments. Salesforce has devoted the top floor of Salesforce Tower, the ohana floor, for community and nonprofit events after hours. Google opened a free 8,500 SF workspace for nonprofits at its Embarcadero office in 2017.

Large tech companies and organizations have been devoting community spaces for nonprofits and events as part of their campus or office developments. Salesforce has devoted the top floor of Salesforce Tower, the ohana floor, for community and nonprofit events after hours. Google opened a free 8,500 SF workspace for nonprofits at its Embarcadero office in 2017.

Facebook’s Menlo Park Community Hub will be for local nonprofits focused on internships and workforce training, coding and technology courses and community development. The space is reservable for nonprofits, entrepreneurs and community events when not used for classes.

 

 

Read more on Bisnow Silicon Valley

 

 

Mid-Market scares off tenants at SF’s big empty mall

6×6 still a zero for actual stores.

The towering, five-story, 250,000-square-foot mall at 950 Market Street dubbed 6×6 finished construction in 2016 after years of development, only to then sit completely empty without a single retail tenant.

Building staff keeps an eye on the place every day, but it’s something of a surreal spectacle as they’re the only people ever in the looming structure, which quickly developed a somewhat creepy vibe.

In November 2017, a source involved with the project told Curbed SF that the building was finally seeing some leasing activity and predicted two big tenants by year’s end. But presently the only activity there is a parking lot in the basement.

In March of 2018, as part of a bid to convert much of the interior space to office use, lawyer Daniel A. Frattin wrote to the San Francisco Planning Commission on behalf of building management and blamed high costs and Amazon influence for the state of the five-story fiasco.

 

 

 

Read more on Curbed SF

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Richmond vacant property tax headed to November ballot

Richmond voters in November will decide whether to tax vacant properties to pay for homelessness services, affordable housing and other things.

The vacant property tax measure was inspired by one in Oakland, which was approved for the November ballot a few weeks ago, said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt. If Richmond voters pass the measure — it needs a two-thirds majority vote — a special parcel tax will be placed on vacant properties at the rate of $3,000 a year per vacant developed parcel and $6,000 a year per undeveloped parcel.

The tax would generate an estimated $5.4 million a year for the next 20 years, according to a report from Butt and Councilman Eduardo Martinez. That money will be earmarked for homelessness services, housing, blight, fighting illegal dumping and other specific programs.

There are 980 to 1,180 vacant parcels in the city and 250 vacant structures — most of which are abandoned homes, the report said. About 998 would be subject to the tax.

“In addition to creating a dedicated funding source, by taxing vacant properties, this measure will help encourage people to put those properties back into use, thus increasing the housing supply,” Martinez and Butt said in the report.

The measure passed unanimously at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Only one member of the public spoke on the measure; she was concerned that a vacant lot that she has owned since the 1980s and had turned into a garden would be taxed. City officials at the meeting said it would not be subject to the tax.

Property would be classified as vacant and subject to the tax if it is used less than 50 days a year. The tax would not apply to properties used as gardens or to host farmers markets, the report said.

A hardship exemption would be available to people who qualify as “very low-income” under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s guidelines. Very low-income is defined by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development as households who make 50 percent of the area median income. For Richmond in 2018, a family of four with an income of less than $58,100 would be classified as very low-income.

Vacant property owners who can prove that specific circumstances prevent the use or development of the property are also eligible for an exemption. For example, if a natural disaster damaged the property, or if an undeveloped property was being used as a yard for an adjoining property, it would be exempt. If the measure passes in November, the City Council would include details of that exemption in a  separate ordinance, the report said.

 

 

Read more on East Bay Times

 

 

 

In a U.S. mall owner’s world, ‘boring’ is actually pretty good

Mall landlords, besieged for the past two years by the rise of online shopping, are trying to push a new narrative of improving sales and increased demand for empty space at their properties.

Second-quarter earnings results for the biggest owners were largely in line with expectations, according to DJ Busch, an analyst at Green Street Advisors LLC, a research firm that specializes in real estate investment trusts. And that’s good news for an industry that’s struggling to stay relevant.

“We are pleasantly surprised — boring is pretty good in retail,” Busch said. “Incrementally, we’re moving in the right direction, but it’s going to take several quarters to get back to speed and get some of these centers leased backed up.”

U.S. mall REITs have been beaten up as the growth of e-commerce and a surge in retailer bankruptcies and store closures upends their business model. In the past 24 months, a Bloomberg index of eight regional-mall owners plunged 25 percent through Monday, compared with a 3.3 percent decline for all REITs. After a brutal 2017, landlords are trying to paint a rosier picture and convince investors that the worst is behind them.

“Demand from tenants for space in our highly productive centers is increasing,” David Simon, chief executive officer of Simon Property Group Inc., the largest U.S. mall owner, said on a call with analysts last week. “We continue to redevelop our irreplaceable real estate with new, exciting, dynamic ways to live, work, play, stay and shop that will further enhance the customer experience.”

 

 

Read more on Bloomberg

 

 

 

Oakland to vote on property tax, owner move-in eviction measures

Oakland voters in November will be deciding on three new measures.

The three new measures include a tax on vacant properties, increase the real estate transfer tax rate for properties worth more than $2 million and disallow landlords from evicting tenants on the grounds that the landlord lives in the property.

The vacant property tax, which must pass by a two-thirds majority, would impose a special parcel tax on all vacant property — including lots, industrial and commercial buildings, and units in apartment buildings and other multi-unit buildings like condo or townhouse complexes.

The measure was passed during Tuesday’s marathon city council meeting which lasted into the early morning hours of Wednesday. Landlords spoke out against the measures, mostly claiming they would put an unfair burden on small “mom-and-pop” landlords who may only have one rental property and rely on that income. Tenants’ rights activists supported the measures, and shared stories of landlords treating tenants unfairly, as well as the need for housing.

 

 

Read more on East Bay Times

 

 

 

Embarcadero Center kicks off office renovations

Embarcadero Center is getting a facelift.

In the coming weeks, the center’s owner Boston Properties will start renovations to build new lobbies on the second floors of 1,2, and 3 Embarcadero, while the lobby in 4 Embarcadero Center will be redesigned.

The new lobbies — about 2,000 square feet each — will make it easier for tenants and visitors to find where they’re going and encourage meetups, said Doug Zucker, principal in charge of the project for architecture firm Gensler.

They will also provide a layer of security to office buildings that, in their current form, can be accessed by anyone from the elevator bank.

“We’re looking at how to create an entry experience for these office buildings that are buried on the second floor of a retail center,” Doug Zucker said.

Although the Embarcadero towers have cut across the Financial District skyline since their construction began in the 1970’s, accessing offices from the retail portion of the center can be confusing. To change that, the escalator and stairs between the second and third floor will be removed, leading people directly up to the new lobby spaces from the ground floor.

 

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times