Transit-oriented development changing how Oakland grows

When it comes to the future of Oakland, a good amount of the development that will change the city has one thing in common: the transit station nearby. 

Bay Area Rapid Transit has committed to an ambitious plan to build mixed-use transit-oriented developments around its stations throughout the Bay Area, and a number of those projects will be in Oakland.

Already, the transit authority has started to transform land around MacArthur Station in the northern part of the city as well as Fruitvale Station to the southeast. Construction is underway on Coliseum Transit Village from UrbanCore Development and Oakland Economic Development Corp.

Future plans call for continued development on those sites and projects to go up around downtown BART stations.

BART’s transit-oriented development policy states that the agency will only move forward with future developments in cities that have adopted station area plans, and Oakland has been at the forefront, BART’s Sean Brooks said. Brooks, the department manager of real estate and property development for BART, will speak about TODs at Bisnow’s The Evolution of Downtown Oakland March 13.

Projects already underway have required upzoning, and the city also has been progressive about parking requirements, Brooks said.

“The city has kind of bent over backwards to help and advance some of these projects,” he said.

Case in point: the planned development for West Oakland, which got through the planning commission in record time, he said. The project was helped along in no small part because of the affordable housing it is bringing to the city.

 

Read more at Bisnow Oakland

 

Fight brews over hotel and housing project near Moscone Center

In San Francisco’s SoMa, an argument over city transparency could threaten to derail a key hotel and housing project. 

Across the street from the Moscone Center, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency wants to turn a 732-spot garage on public land into a lucrative development. The idea is to help lure more conventions to the expanded Moscone Center, which just underwent a $550 million renovation, and build urgently needed affordable home.

But SFMTA has made a series of missteps that reveal a lack of transparency in how cities may handle public land, say community advocates, including keeping the development proposals private, not holding public meetings, and delaying the selection process. Those criticisms boiled over at a recent SFMTA board meeting and have worked their way up to the district supervisor’s ears.

The SFMTA is “trying to hold its cards closer to the chest, but that may end up making problems for them moving forward,” said District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the surrounding constituents. Haney is meeting with community members tonight about the process.

 

Read more at San Francisco Business Times

 

Oakland A’s meet opposition over plans for new waterfront ballpark

Plans for a new Oakland A’s ballpark at Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland have run into opposition that could throw up roadblocks for the project.

Last week, a coalition that includes Save The Bay sent a letter to the state legislature listing concerns from environmental, business and labor organizations about the stadium project.

In the letter, Save The Bay Executive Director David Lewis said East Bay lawmakers are considering introducing a bill that could fast-track the project through regulatory exemptions. That would lessen the project’s accountability to environmental laws designed to protect public health, public lands and vulnerable wildlife.

The coalition said it is opposed to any measures that would reduce San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission oversight for the project, remove State Lands Commission-enacted public trust protections, undercut hazardous materials restrictions or seek a way around California Environmental Quality Act obligations for the project.

The A’s said they had no plans to ask state lawmakers to fast-track the process, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Save The Bay is not the only one arguing against the plans for the stadium.

The bar pilots association said the lights from the stadium will be blinding for those navigating container ships to the port, and those ships could hit kayakers going after stray balls, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, which represents some of the port’s tenants, said the hotel and housing included in the plan would increase traffic and compete with trucks around the port.

Oakland has suffered the loss of sports teams, including the Golden State Warriors, who are slated to be in their new Chase Center in San Francisco for the 2019-2020 season, and the Raiders, who are moving to Las Vegas and still haven’t settled on where they will play next season before that move.

 

Read more at Bisnow Oakland

 

Stanford Shopping Center wants to tear down a Macy’s store to make room for luxury retailers

The Macy’s Men’s store at Stanford Shopping Center could soon be replaced by retail heavyweights.

Simon Malls, the mall’s operator, proposed tearing down and replacing the 94,337-square-foot building with a Restoration Hardware and a Bashford luxury retailer, the Palo Alto Daily Post reports.

The men’s department store would be then merged into the shopping center’s main Macy’s store, Simon Malls Spokeswoman Solana Tanabe told the post.

A three-story, 43,581-square-foot Restoration Hardware store would reportedly take over the direct location, with a one-story 28,000-square-foot The Wilkes Bashford shop built on the nearby parking lot between Sand Hill Road and Pistache Place. Simon Malls is also looking to construct two 3,506-square-foot buildings as part of the plans.

Simon Property Group bought the mall from Stanford University back in 2003 for $333 million, though it still leases the land from the university. The surrounding region —  which includes Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Woodside and Atherton — is prime for luxury stores, with Stanford’s median home value estimate is just of $3 million, according to Zillow.

Restoration Hardware reportedly will be designing its building to include a rooftop restaurant and garden, as well as second-floor terraces. Simon Malls also has an alcohol permit in the works.

 

Read more at San Francisco Business Times

 

Multifamily owners jump in the short-term rental game

When Harold Wu moved from Toronto to Baltimore for a new job, the first thing on his to-do list was to get a place to live.

As he embarked on his apartment search, the T Rowe Price senior vice president of procurement decided to book a hotel in Baltimore for a week in September.

“I looked at the usual suspects: Hilton, Marriott, Brookshire Suites, Residence Inn and so on. Then I stumbled upon WhyHotel on the internet.”

WhyHotel operates temporary hotels within multifamily buildings during a lease-up phase of a new apartment building.

Wu liked the idea of having a place with a full kitchen for the week as a home base. He never thought he’d actually end up living in that very apartment complex.

His weeklong experience at 225 Calvert ended up being the ultimate try-before-you-buy. As he looked around at other apartments — he shopped 36 in total — he found himself appreciating his temporary digs more and more. He liked the amenities, the closet space, the lockers for packages and the security. The ultimate test was of the soundproofing, and it passed.

“I wanted to see if this was a cheap renovation. You don’t hear your neighbor.”

The short-term stay aspect of the property made him nervous at first.

“Frankly, I was concerned that they had a hotel on multiple floors. I didn’t want to have a transient population walking around in my building if I were living there.”

But he has embraced it. He ended up signing a lease for a one-bedroom instead of two — he no longer has to host guests, as he has a hotel directly in his building now.

Other than seeing people with luggage around the elevator banks, Wu said he barely notices his short-term neighbors. Other apartment dwellers haven’t reported the same experiences, citing disturbances and crowded amenity spaces with the temporary guests.

Short-term rentals may not be widely accepted as a viable long-term option for a multifamily owner. Subleasing is generally not accepted, and short-term visitors can be disruptive to residents and create potential liability issues, market experts say.

 

Read more at Bisnow

 

 

Landlord-tenant relationships are changing, thanks to cryptocurrencies, Airbnb, and more

New challenges facing landlords in 2019.

This could be a great time to be a landlord.

The real-estate market still only has enough supply for half the population. We’re still seeing high divorce rates, so people need more places to live. And households are still being created faster than the housing supply. All that combined means higher rents and that trend looks likely to continue for a long time.

In fact, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, rising rates on 30-year mortgages — now firmly above 5% and on track to reach 5.8% by the end of the year — will help to drive rents higher in the coming year as more people get priced out of home buying by these higher interest rates. According to an analysis by Zillow, rent growth will pick up in 2019 as the Federal Reserve continues to raise rates.

For landlords, this is all very good news. And, given the evolution that the real-estate market has gone through over the last couple of decades — expanding to include short-term rentals, absentee owners, do-it-yourself property managers and more — the future looks bright for all involved.

Read more at MarketWatch 

 

In 2069, your food will shop for you

Industry experts place their bets on the supermarket of the future.

The trouble with predictions about the future of food is that they usually wind up being wrong. Where, for instance, is the dog-sized cow engineered to graze in my backyard? Meals today don’t come in pill form, and despite decades of anticipation, insects haven’t replaced farm animals as a meaningful source of protein. You’ll understand why I’ve approached the question of how we’ll shop for food in the year 2069 with some amount of hesitancy.

To find my footing, I called Max Elder at the Institute for the Future, a think tank based in Palo Alto, California. Elder works as a researcher in the Food Futures Lab, which companies and governments hire to do exactly the type of blue-sky thinking that conjures up an idea like that backyard cow—or, in this particular case, blenders and refrigerators that can conspire to manipulate commodity markets. Whether or not these concepts bear out, Elder tells me, he believes that engaging in such speculation is critical to shaping our world. Fail to dream about the future, and you forfeit your role in its creation.

Today, the grocery store is in a period of particularly rapid change, as more and more companies vie for their share of America’s $650 billion food retail sector. Legacy supermarket chains like Kroger and Albertsons are now up against discount rivals like Walmart and Costco, European transplants Aldi and Lidl, plus drugstores, dollar stores, and, of course Amazon, which has been steadily encroaching on food retail since its 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods. All that competition has produced a climate of innovation, as retailers try to best each other on exclusive products and services, value, technology, and convenience. The choices they make matter: Everybody eats, after all, and what we consume is determined to a large extent by what our grocery stores decide to offer.

In forecasting where the industry will go over the next few decades, Elder told me, “The idea is to push people beyond notions of what’s plausible to what’s possible. What are the values implicit in the question? What will the food system look like if we optimize for different values?” He encouraged me to think of it all not so much as predictions but imaginings. So, I decided to suspend disbelief, loosen my grip on reality, and imagine a world where T-bone steaks grow on trees (or at least in bioreactors), snacks are tailored to my microbiome, and my morning coffee arrives by drone. Saddle up, everyone! Don’t forget your decoder rings.

Read more at Medium

 

 

Oakland requires landlords to retrofit ‘soft-story’ buildings

Landlords have six years to retrofit the buildings, which are prone to substantial earthquake damage.

To prevent hundreds of multi-story, wood-frame apartment buildings from collapsing as they did in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, Oakland is requiring seismic upgrades of all those at risk in the next big shaker.

There are 1,479 such “soft-story” apartment buildings in the city constructed before 1991 — when the building code changed — that stand two to seven stories tall and contain five or more apartments, according to a 2008 analysis by the city and the Association of Bay Area Governments.Those buildings are supported by slim columns with either garages or storefronts underneath, and contain a total of 24,273 apartments.

With fears of the “big one” occurring any day now along the Hayward fault — which runs along northeast Oakland and south along Interstate 580 — the City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Dec. 14 making the seismic retrofitting of soft-story buildings with more than five units mandatory, giving landlords four to six years to get their buildings up to code.

“A major earthquake along the Hayward fault is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement released a week before the meeting. “As a city, we have a responsibility to put measures in place that will prevent injury and loss of life, and reduce displacement and recovery time in the aftermath of a major quake. This ordinance does all of those while also ensuring that we’re not placing an undue financial burden on property owners and tenants in our community.”

San Francisco passed a similar ordinance that went into effect in 2017; Berkeley and Fremont also require soft-story buildings to be seismically retrofitted. The Hayward council is scheduled to consider a similar measure in February.

In 2009, Oakland required soft-story building owners to gauge the potential earthquake damage that could occur. In the city’s 2015-2023 General Plan, officials called for the creation of a seismic safety retrofit program that would encourage retrofits through financial and procedural incentives.

Councilmember Dan Kalb — who introduced the ordinance — said city staff had been researching the risks of soft-story buildings and working toward the legislation for about four years. Though some California cities have required the buildings be retrofitted, others have not yet addressed the issue.

Seismic retrofits fall under the Oakland rent board’s definition of capital improvements, and thus up to 70 percent of the cost of may be passed on to the tenants. This ordinance requires that pass-through costs to tenants be dispersed over 25 years to prevent substantial rent hikes.

 

Read more on East Bay Times

 

 

As another San Francisco office tenant decamps for Oakland, will Salesforce take its space?

Another office tenant plans to move to Oakland from San Francisco, freeing up some space that Salesforce is reportedly looking to lease.

The exodus of office tenants fleeing San Francisco for Oakland continues. The latest example is the California State Department of Insurance, which plants to vacate its space in 45 Fremont St. and recently signed a lease for 47,000 square feet on three floors in 1901 Harrison St. in Oakland.

Another tenant, Blue Shield of California, inked a deal back in 2016 to leave the same building for space in a new office tower, 601 City Center in Oakland. The insurance company plans to occupy 225,000 square feet in the building in mid-2019.

The moves illustrate a broader trend of traditional office tenants leaving San Francisco while the tech industry gobbles up available spaces.

Cloud software maker Salesforce Inc. is rumored to be close to taking the 282,000 square feet in 45 Fremont, owned by Shorenstein Properties and Blackstone Group. The building is next door to 350 Mission St., known as Salesforce East, that is part of Salesforce’s urban campus in SoMa.

 

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

There’s a new plan to stop Millennium Tower sinking — and settle lawsuits

All sides in the Millennium Tower debacle appear to be nearing an agreement on a $100 million-plus fix to stop the 58-story high-rise from sinking further — but at least part of the building’s tilt will probably remain.

“We’re very encouraged by the recent progress that has been made,” said P.J. Johnston, spokesman for Millennium Partners, the luxury condominium’s developer. “We look forward to working with the homeowners and the city to get this all completed as soon as possible.”

Doug Elmets, spokesman for the homeowners association, cautioned that nothing has been submitted to the city yet for review, but that residents are “encouraged by the ongoing progress.”

The latest plan calls for drilling piles into bedrock from the sidewalk on the building’s southwest corner. The proposal would be less extensive and intrusive than the plan floated in April, which called for drilling as many as 300 micro-piles to bedrock through the building’s concrete foundation.

The idea was to stabilize one side of the 58-story structure, then let the other side continue to sink until the building straightened itself. That plan, however, probably would have cost upward of $350 million — as much as it cost to build the tower in the first place.

The new plan by Ronald Hamburger, the structural engineer for the developer, is expected to be considerably less expensive and faster, and without as significant a disruption to the residents.

“Hopefully, it will take out some of the tilt and stop the building from moving entirely,” said one source familiar with the plan, but who wasn’t authorized to speak for the record.

The tower has sunk 18 inches and tilted 14 inches to the west since it opened in April 2009.

The building sits on a 10-foot-thick mat foundation, held in place by 950 reinforced concrete piles sunk 60 to 90 feet deep into clay and mud. They do not, however, reach bedrock.

The repair job is expected to take several months to complete. The timeline for getting started, however, will probably hinge on how fast the parties can get approval of an environmental impact report and the necessary building permits.

Read more on The San Francisco Chronicle