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Contra Costa County setting itself up to be next Bay Area hub if only the jobs will follow

Several large-scale projects in Contra Costa County could transform the suburban county into a thriving employment center with live-work-play dynamics.

The region’s biggest challenge will be actually getting to that point. Many investors and developers think the county is well on its way.

“What is wonderful about Contra Costa County is that it is unmatched quality of life if you can afford to live here in terms of work, play, live opportunity,” East Bay Leadership Council President and CEO Kristin Connelly said during Bisnow’s recent Future of Contra Costa event. “I’m a huge champion of the East Bay. We are poised to be the center of the mega-region in Northern California because of our assets.”

While more development is occurring in Contra Costa County, many cities are struggling to be attractive to employers, and many residents are still commuting elsewhere for their jobs. The East Bay Leadership Council found that 78% of Contra Costa workers commute to Western Alameda County, San Francisco or San Jose, Connelly said.

Cities like Walnut Creek and Concord are having to build more housing to meet the needs of current and new residents.

“When you’re seeing the South Bay having a 10:1 job-to-housing ratio, we’re the ones in the East Bay and the suburbs having to pick up the slack because of that,” City of Walnut Creek Mayor Justin Wedel said.

Cities are working to create better balances that can be attractive for employers seeking a live-work-play dynamic.

 

 

Read more on Bisnow Oakland

 

 

Downtown San Jose developer drops hotel, apartments from massive Museum Place project

The developer behind Museum Place, a 1.4 million-square-foot downtown San Jose mixed-use development and Tech Museum expansion, is simplifying the project, shedding the previously planned hotel and residential units in the project.

Plans submitted this week to the city of San Jose show that investor and developer Gary Dillabough, who took over the project from Insight Realty earlier this year, is looking to reconfigure the previously approved tower by increasing the office space from 250,000 square feet to 850,000 square feet on the 2.3-acre site at 180 Park Ave., where Parkside Hall currently sits.

“The reality of the situation is that when you are trying to build a hotel, residential space and office, you can’t do all three in a world-class fashion, and our belief is that we want to build a world-class office tower,” Dillabough told the Business Journal in an interview Thursday morning.

That means the previously planned 184-room Kimpton Hotel and the 306 residential units that San Jose-based Insight Realty had gotten approved by the city last year would be no more. The project is now estimated to rise to about 19 stories — down from the currently approved 24 stories — and would still include parking and between 15,000 square feet and 20,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level.

Dillabough, who has become a major property owner in Downtown San Jose over the last year-and-a-half after setting off on a buying spree in the area, says he is still interested in hotel and residential projects in the city, just not at Museum Place.

“We still think the city needs housing and hotel uses, but we think they would be better in standalone buildings,” he said.

Read more on Silicon Business Journal

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

 

 

Bay Area blazes hit multifamily buildings

A late-night fire destroyed an under-development East Bay multifamily complex Monday night, hours after the San Francisco Fire Department got a fire in a downtown high-rise under control.

A West Oakland fire, which was first reported around 2 a.m. at West Grand Avenue and Filbert Street, burned six buildings under construction on the site — two that were near completion and four in early stages of construction, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The project developer is City Ventures, which was planning 126 condos on the site.

Nearby residents were evacuated and power was cut off as a precautionary measure.

Another fire at a building on a construction site on the 3600 block of Peralta Street in the early morning hours was quickly extinguished, the Chronicle reports. The fire department is looking into the cause, which was deemed suspicious.

Monday evening, a 25-story building at 405 Davis Court in San Francisco’s Financial District caught fire, burning on the 12th through 16th floors.

No one was injured in the fire, which was first reported shortly after 5 p.m., according to the San Francisco Fire Department. While there were no injuries, multiple people had to be rescued. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

The fire burned for about 45 minutes.

 

 

Read more on Bisnow SF

 

 

 

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

 

 

Walnut Creek housing project near BART beats back appeal

The developer is a frequent face at Walnut Creek’s Planning Department, and will responsible for constructing more than 900 new housing units around the downtown BART station.

A Walnut Creek housing proposal cemented approval last night after the City Council voted to quash an appeal.

Danville-based developer Blake Griggs’ now has a clear line of sight for its 1910 Noma project, which includes 135 units of housing and 10,000-square-feet of retail about a block away from the Walnut Creek BART station.

Lauren Seaver, Blake Griggs’ vice president of development, said it expects to break ground sometime within the next six to twelve months. Fuddruckers restaurant now occupies the site, but would temporarily leave and then move back into 4,000 square feet of retail space once the site is rebuilt. Seaver said tenants for the remaining 6,000 square feet have not yet been chosen.

A local union, the Laborers International Union of North America, was behind the appeal and cited inadequate environmental reviews. Unions have frequently appealed East Bay housing projects on environmental grounds when they’ve had disagreements with developers over the use of union labor.

The Laborers International Union of North America did not respond to requests for comment.

Walnut Creek Senior Planner Gregg Kapovich said the union could still sue, but as of now, no more appeals are possible.

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

 

BART to build 519 new homes at Lake Merritt

Last week, the BART Board of Directors voted to advance a plan to develop hundreds of new homes near the Lake Merritt BART station, a proposal that’s been in the works for years and continues the agency’s foray into transit-adjacent housing on potentially choice plots of land it owns throughout the Bay Area.

Technically, the motion at the board’s September 13 meeting (which passed unanimously) only authorizes negotiations with potential developers, a process that could take up to two years.

A press statement from BART provides some additional details:

The Board voted to authorize BART staff to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with a joint venture of East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) and Strada Investment Group with a goal of creating a transit-oriented development (TOD) above the BART station.

The plan proposed by the EBALDC/Strada joint venture calls for four new buildings on BART-owned lots above the station. The proposal features 519 units of housing, 44 percent of which would be affordable, and 517,000 square feet of commercial space for offices and shops.

BART staff singled out EBALDC as the developer of choice but retains the option to negotiate with SF-based Strada if those talks fall through.

 

 

 

Read more on Curbed SF

 

 

 

Cupertino approves massive development agreement for Vallco Mall

The city of Cupertino approved a specific plan and development agreement Wednesday night that could aid in bringing nearly 3,000 residential units and millions of square feet in commercial space to replace its dying Vallco Shopping Mall.

In a 3-2 vote, the council reluctantly approved the densest development ever proposed for the 58-acre site that sits about a mile from Apple Inc.’s new headquarters.

Cupertino Mayor Darcy Paul and City Councilmember Steven Scharf, who both favored a less dense redevelopment option, voted against the plan.

The vote marks the first move by city council members to willingly pave the way for a dense project on the site after years of community disagreement over what should replace the nearly empty, 1.2 million-square-foot mall has kept redevelopment in limbo.

That stalemate ended early this year when Vallco property owner, Sand Hill Property Co. invoked SB-35, a new and highly controversial state law aimed at speeding up residential development in housing starved California. That proposal set a tight deadline for the city to either approve Sand Hill’s redevelopment plans or come up with something better that the Palo Alto-based developer would consider building instead.

Read more on Silicon Valley Business Journal

 

 

 

 

Business fees to fund housing will be studied in San Jose

The concern, even for some council members who voted for the study, is that despite its housing shortage, San Jose still has many more residents than jobs, which is the opposite of the situation in many surrounding cities.

The imposition of commercial linkage fees to fund below market-rate housing is still alive in San Jose after Tuesday’s 9-2 City Council vote to add a discussion of them to next week’s agenda.

The vote came on an item of how the city should respond to a Santa Clara civil jury report issued in June that included among its findings that the fees are overdue and would increase housing.

Five council members, including Mayor Sam Liccardo, wrote memos changing the staff-authored response of disagreement with the finding to say the city would consider a study to confirm the causal relationship between job creation and an increased need for housing and a second study of the feasibility of enacting fees.

 

 

Read more on Silicon Valley Business Journal