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San Francisco delays decision on retail-to-office conversions

The owners of 220 Post St. spent $75 million to buy the Union Square property in 2016. The goal: to attract a luxury tenant to the five-story building. Too bad few of those exist.

City Center Realty Partners shelled out nearly $75 million for Union Square’s 220 Post St., the former Saks Fifth Avenue Men’s Store, with the goal of attracting a luxury tenant to the five-story space. That goal has been more difficult than expected.

Nearly as difficult for the owners has been convincing city planners that retailers are no longer interested in space above the ground floor.

Seven proposals to convert upper-level retail into office space have been filed with the San Francisco Planning Department, including 220 Post’s. Most of those properties are in Union Square. Earlier this year, the city decided to freeze those applications for 18 months. That meant that 220 Post, which was supposed to be heard by the planning commission this month, is waiting indefinitely for a decision pending the creation of permanent rules.

What’s at stake is the future of the city’s retail heart. City officials are hesitant to give up the sales tax revenue and jobs that retail generates, but landlords say empty space accomplishes nothing. Instead, landlords argue that adding more office space would not only help them fill buildings, but alleviate the extreme shortage of office space that is sending small businesses and nonprofits to Oakland.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution by District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin in May that imposed temporary rules banning conversions for an 18-month period. Planning Department spokesperson Gina Simi said the department has postponed hearings for properties located within the city’s downtown retail area.

The controls don’t apply to properties located south of Market Street or for applications that have already been approved, such as the former Macy’s Men’s store.

 

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

Mall tenants had an out when giants like Macy’s left. Now landlords bar the door

The only thing more dangerous for America’s malls than a string of apparel-chain bankruptcies is when the trouble hits department stores.

Retailers like J.C. Penney Co. and Macy’s Inc. are considered “anchors” that keep malls humming and foot traffic flowing. They’re so important to the ecosystem that smaller tenants may refuse to set up shop without a promise that the anchors will stick around: Many leases include so-called co-tenancy clauses that let them cut and run or pay less if those key tenants depart.

Now, many landlords are pushing to eliminate or narrow the escape clauses in the wake of mass department-store closings. That means less flexibility for the remaining tenants.

 

Read more on Bloomberg

 

 

The era of big leases is over as San Francisco awaits next crop of towers

The era of massive office leases — including the likes of Salesforce, Dropbox and Facebook — is coming to a halt now that most of San Francisco’s pipeline of new office buildings is spoken for. Robust demand for office space has filled up buildings months or years ahead of completion, but development is drying up.

In May, another company declared it had signed the “biggest office lease ever” in San Francisco. The trend of going bigger and bigger started with Salesforce taking 714,000 square feet in Salesforce Tower at 415 Mission St. in 2014 followed by Dropbox taking 736,000 square feet in 2017 in the Exchange in Mission Bay. Then Facebook topped both with a deal to gobble up the entire, 750,000-square-foot Park Tower.

But, the era of massive office leases is coming to a halt — at least for the next few years — now that most of San Francisco’s pipeline of new office buildings is spoken for. Robust demand for office space has filled up buildings months or years ahead of completion, but development is drying up.

Some industry insiders say more building would be going on if it weren’t for Proposition M, a 1986 voter-approved law that limits how much office space can be approved in a given year. Still, others say that factors such as the lengthy city approval process and availability of development sites has also put the brakes on office development.

 

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

Amid office space crunch, Google grows in San Francisco

As its fellow tech giants jockey for space in downtown San Francisco, Google has signed another office lease in the southern Financial District, The Chronicle has learned.

The Mountain View company is taking an additional 57,299 square feet at Hills Plaza at 2 Harrison St., according to real estate data company CoStar. That brings the total in the complex, where Google has had an office since 2007, to more than 400,000 square feet.

Google did not respond to a request for comment. Architecture firm Gensler occupied the space before recently moving to 45 Fremont St. A Morgan Stanley investment fund owns Hills Plaza.

Google is also in talks to sublease space from Salesforce, two sources said. The potential deal could be up to 228,000 square feet at Rincon Center at 101 Spear St. No contract has been signed.

Salesforce is one of the few large tech tenants vacating space as it consolidates workers into Salesforce Tower, which opened in January, and adjacent buildings. Salesforce, the city’s largest tech employer with 7,500 employees, is also subleasing space at the Landmark building at One Market Plaza.

Google’s expansion follows office leases by Facebook, Dropbox and other fast-growing tech companies, which have broken records for size and made San Francisco one of the priciest and tightest office markets in the country.

The office vacancy rate in San Francisco’s southern Financial District, which includes the area around the Transbay Transit Center, is 4.6 percent, down from 6 percent in the first quarter, according to CoStar.

“The new development has pretty much been snatched up,” said Jesse Gundersheim, CoStar’s San Francisco market economist. “Opportunity like sublease space from Salesforce is pretty rare.”

Read more on The San Francisco Chronicle

 

 

Silicon Valley growth spurs huge office, R&D building boom

A huge wave of commercial property construction is underway in the Bay Area, and Silicon Valley’s economic boom is fueling the growth, according to a report released Wednesday.

Construction of new buildings for offices, research and development and industrial uses is galloping ahead at a “feverish” pace, a report stated.

“This is a construction boom like no other,” said Russell Hancock, president of San Jose-based Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a private-public organization. “There is a lot of confidence in the Silicon Valley economy. People who are developing buildings are quite sure that they are going to get leased up. And they are getting leased up.”

Read more from The Mercury News

 

 

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

 

 

San Francisco’s largest office landlord to break ground on $265 million Oakland tower

Boston Properties, San Francisco’s largest office landlord, will break ground on May 2 on a 402-unit apartment tower next to Oakland’s MacArthur BART station.

The 260-foot project at 532 39th St. will be the tallest building in North Oakland and the company’s first residential project on the West Coast.

The project in the Temescal district will be among a half-dozen Oakland towers to start construction in the last two years, an unprecedented real estate boom that’s drawing some of the country’s biggest developers to the city. Other developers include Lennar Multifamily Communities, Shorenstein Properties and Carmel Partners.

Read more from San Francisco Business Times

 

 

Facebook to move into big WeWork outpost as co-working company prepares to open largest-ever location

Talks between the two giants about WeWork’s new Mountain View location, its largest sublease to-date, have been ongoing for months. But this week the two finally struck a deal.

When WeWork this year opens its first Mountain View offices — its largest-ever lease — half of that space will be filled by Facebook.

Both companies told the Silicon Valley Business Journal about Facebook’s sublease which totals more than 200,000 square feet in one of two new office buildings at The Village at San Antonio Center. The deal comes after months of discussions between the two companies. The second WeWork office building on the site will be open to any company seeking co-working space.

Initially, the talks between the New York-based co-working company and the Menlo Park-based tech giant had been leading toward Facebook taking over both buildings at 391 and 401 San Antonio Road, which would total about 450,000 square feet, the Business Journal reported in February. But Facebook in recent months has rapidly snapped up huge swaths of office space in Silicon Valley — including about 1 million square feet in Sunnyvale — and its needs evolved quickly, two sources with knowledge of the discussions told the Business Journal.

Facebook will set up shop in the eight-story, approximately 225,000-square-foot office building at 401 San Antonio Rd., which is slated to be ready for move-in by early September, according to WeWork.

Read more from Silicon Valley Business Journal

 

 

WeWork signs biggest lease of Q1 in San Francisco

WeWork just added 251K SF to its San Francisco footprint.

The co-working provider inked the city’s largest lease of the first quarter at the Union Bank Building with landlords Kennedy Wilson and Takenaka Corp., the San Francisco Business Times reports. WeWork signed an 18-year lease for all 20 floors and plans to renovate the building.

The JV bought the building at 400/430 California St. in 2016 for $135M when it was fully leased to MFUB Union Bank, which plans to vacate the building.

The co-working company began occupying it newest location this year at Salesforce Tower, where it leases 75K SF. WeWork has rapidly expanded its Bay Area footprint in recent years and signed leases for over 1M SF in 2017. It also has expanded into Oakland, San Jose and Mountain View within the last two years.

WeWork Managing Director for U.S. and Canada West Jon Slavet told the San Francisco Business Times that the company cannot keep up with demand in the Bay Area, where its community is now over 13,000 members. Its members range from startups to enterprise businesses.

WeWork plans to open its first phase at 430 California during Q1 2019.

Read more from Bisnow

 

 

Facebook In Talks For 1M SF In Sunnyvale

Jay Paul Co.’s Moffett Towers II in Sunnyvale is all leased up, and Facebook could be one of its main tenants.

Facebook is said to have leased about 1M SF in three out of the five buildings within the office complex, the East Bay Times reports. This could allow Facebook to move about 5,000 to 6,000 employees into Sunnyvale.

Facebook would not be a new tenant for Jay Paul Co.; the social media giant leased all of Jay Paul Co.’s 445K SF office space at 181 Fremont last year.

While Facebook did not confirm the leases, one of the site’s brokers, Newmark Knight Frank Vice Chairman Phil Mahoney, confirmed with the East Bay Times that all five buildings have been leased to unspecified tenants.

Two of the five buildings within Moffett Towers II are nearing completion and a third is under construction.

Amazon already leased one 350K SF building at Moffett Towers II and leases about 1M SF throughout Sunnyvale.

Outside of its growth throughout Menlo Park, which includes an expansion of its headquarters as well as a proposed Willow Campus, Facebook has leased space in Fremont and may also sublease 475K SF from WeWork at the Village at San Antonio in Mountain View.

Read more from Bisnow