Posts

Market Pulse: San Francisco, July 2019

Welcome to the first edition of NAI Northern California’s newest feature. We checked the pulse of the San Francisco commercial real estate market to discover the ups and downs of the office, industrial, retail, and multifamily markets.  Each market has four dimensions: current inventory, 12-month net absorption, under construction, and vacancy rate.

Check out our July 2019 San Francisco Market Pulse infographic. If a dimension is on the rise, the pulse goes above the baseline; if it’s on the decline or negative, the pulse will dip below the baseline.

This month the San Francisco office market’s inventory is up to 175 million sq. ft., with 12-month net absorption down at 2 million sq. ft. of office space. Approximately 6.9 million sq. ft. are under construction with an upward trend. The vacancy rate is rising, at 6.3 percent.

For more detailed updates or to find out how San Francisco’s submarkets are doing, contact one of our advisors; whether you’re interested in office, industrial, retail, or multifamily properties, we can help.

Foreign Investment Rising for Net Lease Assets

Foreign investment in commercial real estate is on the rise due to the search for yield and portfolio diversification, according to the World Property Journal. Globally, investment in net lease properties (office, retail, and industrial) averaged $3 billion per year from 2011 to 2014 and is up to more than $8 billion per year from 2015 to 2019. In the United States, foreign investments for Q1 2019 represented 15.1% of net lease transactions, totaling $1.9 billion, up 6.6% compared to Q1 last year when they only represented 12.9% of the market. In 2018, foreign investors held 30.1% more net lease properties than in 2017, an $8.8 billion increase.

Most of these investors are from Canada, South Korea, and China. Canadians invested $5.55 billion, with a focus on industrial properties; South Koreans invested $3.28 billion, overwhelmingly preferring office space; and Chinese investments of $3.22 billion also focused on industrial assets.

So far this year, New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, Columbus, and Los Angeles have received the most foreign capital, but commercial real estate investments in high-growth secondary and tertiary markets like Phoenix, Seattle, Baltimore, and Atlanta are also becoming popular.

Source: World Property Journal

The San Francisco office pipeline is overflowing

The SF office pipeline is overflowing. The city only has enough cap space to approve about 2.1 million square feet of office space, but over 8.1 million square feet are currently proposed. So what happens to the developers who want to add that extra 6 million?

The Planning Commission can only approve 950,000 square feet of office development per year, with any unused approvals rolling over into the next year. When there’s not enough cap space to go around, the commissioners get to develop their own policies to decide which projects will go forward and which will have to wait until next year. One such policy approves projects in phases, so a given project might be able to start work on half of its square footage this year and resubmit the second half for approval next year; the idea is that this helps projects get started moving forward more quickly. However, it also means that they take longer to complete. From The San Francisco Business Times: “Doing so means ‘uncertainty, and it means a longer approval process,’ said Ryan Patterson, a partner at Zacks, Freedman & Patterson. ‘Time is money. So longer approval processes mean more expense. And that means even higher office rents.’”

Some developers have been able to carve out exemptions by getting voters to approve them; the Shipyard project in Hunter’s Point got its 5 million square feet of office space approved this way. The current system doesn’t seem likely to go away, though, leaving commissioners with a lot of power and developers with a lot of waiting.

Source: San Francisco Business Times

How to take advantage of “Opportunity Zones”

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created new rules for “opportunity zones,” underdeveloped neighborhoods, sheltering your investments from federal taxes with minimal limits and employment requirements. You only have a few more months to maximize the benefits of this program: so how does it work?

When you sell a property, you can immediately reinvest that gain, tax-deferred, into an Opportunity Zone by depositing it into a qualified Opportunity Zone fund (either one you create or a traditional one). Then you have two choices; buy a property in one of the zones, or invest in a business in the zone. We’ll focus on the property option.

You have 31 months to purchase your new property, whether it’s multifamily, retail, industrial, or office space. Eventually, you need to invest the same amount of money as the property’s structures (not land!) currently are worth; if the current building is worth $100,000, you need to spend $100,000 remodeling, rebuilding, or otherwise upgrading the building. This means if you buy a property with a structure worth very little, you don’t have to do much to get the tax benefits.

Speaking of benefits, not only is the tax on your original gains deferred until 2026, but if you hold it for seven years, 15 percent of that gain will completely avoid federal capital gains taxes. (You only get 10 percent if you hold it for five years.) And if you hold it for ten years and your new investment appreciates? None of that appreciation is taxable under federal capital gains taxes. This is an opportunity indeed!

There are 102 opportunity zones designated around the Bay Area, including in Oakland, Concord, San Rafael, Santa Rosa, and even San Francisco; visit the SF Business Times’ site for maps and stats about the zones, or contact one of our advisors to find a property that matches your investment goals.

Sources: BizJournals.com, Tax Policy Center

Read our June 25, 2019 newsletter

What are the Golden State Warriors’ latest plans for Downtown Oakland?

Warriors won’t practice in Oakland next season but will leave downtown facility in hands of youth programs.

The Golden State Warriors announced Monday they won’t stick around to practice in their downtown Oakland basketball facility next season as they make their move to the under-construction Chase Center in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood a complete one. But that doesn’t mean the Warriors are totally abandoning the city that’s been their physical home — if not their namesake — for almost half a century.

Read more on East Bay Times

With Square move on horizon, fintechs discover Oakland

Square’s expansion into Uptown Station underscores what fintech entrepreneurs have been saying for some time: Oakland is hot and only getting hotter.

Square’s new lease taking all of Oakland’s Uptown Station signals the growing popularity of the East Bay’s largest city for fintechs and other startups.

Fintech entrepreneurs say Square moving into the city in such a big way — the payments company plans to start moving in about 2,000 employees beginning later this year — means a lot more energy and talent will be drawn into Oakland.

Square’s move represents a tripling of Oakland’s fintech workforce, which the city estimates to be just under 1,000 people.

“We have a small but growing tech sector in Oakland,” said Marisa Raya, economic development specialist for the city of Oakland.

 

 

Read more at San Francisco Business Times

 

Square takes over enormous Oakland building

Uptown Station, once meant to be Uber’s Oakland HQ, nets a new tech tenant.

Not too long ago, the circa 1929 Beaux-Arts building in Oakland now known as Uptown Station was meant to be the East Bay home of Uber, which had ambitious plans for the historic and recently refurbished locale.

But Uber sold the building almost exactly a year ago, netting $175 million from Oakland-based investment firm CIM Group but leaving the future of the sometimes neglected unofficial landmark up in the air.

On Thursday, CIM and Square announced that the SF-based payment app company owned by Twitter CEO (and Benioff antagonist) Jack Dorsey will lease much of the building, completing the locale’s long transition into an East Bay tech hub.

“Square has signed a lease for the entire office space in the iconic Uptown Station building,” according to a Thursday press release from both companies, a deal covering more than 350,000 square feet.

The building at 1955 Broadway first opened as an HC Capwell department store in the ‘20s, at the time apparently a very big ticket for Oakland as thousands showed up to see the mayor overturn the first shovelful of dirt on the future shopping hub.

Eventually, the building transitioned into being a Sears store instead, and for many years now has laid mostly dormant.

Developer Lane Partners spearheaded efforts to turn the disused retail Mecca into a new mixed-use office building before selling to Uber in 2016.

Square won’t actually move in until the end of 2019, possibly because CIM Group is still overseeing work that’s being done on the nearly century-old building.

“Oakland is committed to attracting businesses whose values align with our community. […] I believe Square can be that company,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said Thursday.

 

 

Read more on Curbed SF

 

 

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

 

 

Trump is getting involved in Opportunity Zones, and experts think that’s a good thing

Opportunity zones have become the darling of real estate investors since their adoption last year, but the still-under-the-radar program is poised to receive a lot more attention, and possibly scrutiny after it was promoted in the Oval Office last week.

President Donald Trump’s signing of an executive order to push more federal resources into the Opportunity Zone program is a step in the right direction and could bolster the little-known tax incentive program and the distressed communities that benefit from investments, experts said.

“I think investors in the marketplace are going to be excited that there are going to be a number of new federal benefits aligned to these zones,” Develop founder Steve Glickman said.

Glickman is a former Obama administration official and one of the original architects of the Opportunity Zone program, which was enacted as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

“Frankly, these zones need a lot more than private capital,” Glickman said. “They need infrastructure investment, they need to deal with crime, workforce training, and other strategies and dollars. Opportunity zones were always meant to stimulate that kind of holistic activity not just on a federal level, but on a state and local level.”

Erik Marks, a Seattle-based commercial real estate attorney and founder of Opportunity-Funds.com, a website that tracks opportunity zone funds and designated areas, said the executive order still does not address the current shortcomings and problems that are present from people trying to do opportunity zone deals now.

“I think the regulation may be useful, but this is not a problem-solving regulation,” Marks said. “I don’t know what his strategy is, but I think when there are opportunity zone successes, he has a clear opportunity to put himself and his Cabinet at the locations for the photo opportunity. I don’t mean to say that in a derogatory sense … This is to make sure [everyone knows] he’s still part of it.”

For the past year, the at-first unheralded Opportunity Zone program, passed last year as part of Trump’s $1.5 trillion Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, has flown under the mainstream radar.

The program’s goal is to generate economic development in the form of the redevelopment or the development of market-rate housing, affordable housing, new offices, retail buildings and businesses in these communities.

 

 

Read more on Bisnow

 

 

City passes plan for new SoMa homes

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a sweeping, years-in-the-making plan to transform Central SoMa, potentially bringing thousands of new homes and tens of thousands of jobs to the area, and ending nearly a decade of wrangling over the ambitious package of zoning changes.

The city defines Central SoMa as the area south of Market Street, north of Townsend, and squeezed between Second and Sixth.

It’s a space that includes the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), swaths of low-income housing, nearly 30 landmark buildings, the Flower Mart, and, soon, a stretch of the Central Subway along Fourth Street.

The Central SoMa Plan changes zoning and height limits throughout the neighborhood to encourage more growth, more density, and more diversity of use in future development and redevelopment.

The final passage came as no surprise, after lawmakers unanimously voted in favor of the Central SoMa Plan the first time it came before the board in November.

But the ramifications of the proposal—which took eight years and ran over 1,600 pages in its final form—are so potentially profound as to generate an air of drama about the final vote all on their own.

 

 

Read more on Curbed SF