More move to modular construction to mitigate costs, but it’s not the solution for every project.

In an effort to shorten construction timelines to cut down on costs and find creative ways around the shortage of skilled labor, multifamily developers have embraced the possibilities of modular construction.

But as with any new technology, there are still a lot of pitfalls and issues to work out before it becomes a solution for everyone — and it is not a solution for every project.

The move to modular is being driven by a combination of desperation and fear of the future, Panoramic Interests owner Patrick Kennedy said last week at Bisnow’s Multifamily Annual Conference NorCal in San Francisco.

“Conventional methods seem untenable in many circumstances,” he said.

Ultimately, construction costs will just get higher and more developers across markets will look at modular to address costs and the labor shortage.

 

 

Read more on Bisnow SF

 

 

 

‘Monster in the Mission’ housing proposal back in new form, but with same old opposition

The developer behind a long-stalled mixed-use apartment complex above the 16th Street BART Station in the Mission District has a new plan, but so far it is being met with the same staunch opposition as previous iterations.

Maximus Real Estate Partners, which owns the 57,000-square-foot site at the southeast corner of 16th and Mission streets, has filed a revised design that calls for two 10-story market-rate buildings — one on Mission Street and one on 16th Street — totaling 285 units, as well as 46 affordable units arranged in a row of five-story townhomes along Capp Street.

The affordable units would be given to the city, and the rents spun off from that building, roughly $1.15 million a year, could be used to help subsidize rents in other nearby buildings in the rapidly gentrifying area.

The revised project, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, also scales back some aspects of the project, which critics have long dubbed the “Monster in the Mission.”

The 163-unit mid-rise on Mission Street would be moved back 15 feet to expand the usable space on the BART plaza by 40 percent. The three buildings would each have a district architectural style — one green tile, one red brick and one wood — to break up the massing and better fit into the character of surrounding buildings, project architect Leo Chow said.

 

 

Read more on SFGate

 

 

Identifying lucrative value-add multifamily opportunities as the cycle lengthens

There are ways to drive returns on value-add multifamily investments without spending a fortune on redevelopment.

The appetite for value-add multifamily investments remains strong—and in light of this increasing competition, many investors are struggling to identify and secure assets that present high-reward opportunities.

While some investors have turned to extreme measures, including taking on projects that require extensive remediation and complete overhauls—or even repurposing entirely different product types for multifamily use—some of the greatest opportunities for growth and stability lie in strategically identifying and refreshing functional, yet under-managed vintage communities.

 

 

Read more on National Real Estate Investor

 

 

SF considers ban on rent hikes for widows, widowers

Under existing state law, the death of a loved one may be followed by a mortal rent hike on a rent-controlled home.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Hillary Ronen announced that she will introduce a new law that would extend rent-control protections to bereaved family members—but only if California passes Proposition 10 in November.

Ronen’s office notes in a Tuesday press release:

As Costa Hawkins is currently written, landlords are free to raise the rent on a rent-controlled apartment to an unlimited amount when the “original occupant” no longer lives there.

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance is drafted to mirror that. So, any family members who were not original occupants—no matter how long they’ve lived in the home—are completely unprotected.

Ronen cites examples of Mission District residents who faced rent hikes of 300 to 700 percent after the deaths of their partners. She says that under the new legislation, which will be introduced at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the city would “extend the protections on rent-controlled units to spouses and family members” post-mortem.

Note that the announcement promises protections will extend to “nontraditional families” including domestic partners.

Under Ronen’s proposal, bereaved partners would only need to illustrate at least two years of occupancy to dodge a post-funeral rent hike.

 

 

Read more on Curbed SF

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

Should California’s Costa-Hawkins rent control act be repealed?

Debating the pros and cons of rent control at the Urban Land Institute

The Urban Land Institute of San Francisco held a public forum at the Google Community Space Tuesday night debating Proposition 10, the November ballot initiative that would repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Act and allow California cities to potentially expand their rent-control ordinances.

Arguing in favor of Proposition 10 and potential rent-control expansion was Amy Schur, the director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

John Eudy, co-chair of the “no” campaign Californians for Responsible Housing (and also a vice president at Essex Property Trust) argued against repeal.

David Garcia, a policy director at UC Berkeley’s Terner Center For Housing Innovation, appeared as a third-way party; however, since Garcia appeared to nominally oppose Costa-Hawkins repeal, he often functioned as a second anti-Proposition 10 voice.

All three parties agreed that the state’s goal should be more housing production. They also agreed that Costa-Hawkins as it exists now is ineffectual at protecting renters and that the status quo won’t do in the future.

 

 

Read more on Curbed SF

 

 

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.”

 

 

Read more on CoStar