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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

 

 

Why clothing stores are still opening in San Francisco

A majority of shuttered mall stores over the past few years have been clothing shops, but new Bay Area leases show a sector not in free fall quite yet.

Hip women’s clothier ModCloth, streetwear brand Supreme, athleisure label outdoor Voice and luxury basics purveyor Everlane are among a new class of specialized labels defying recent trends.

Shifting consumer demands, years of oversupply and the rise of ecommerce combined to trigger more than 7,050 tore closings last year, according to Coresight Research. Already, the New York-based retail analyst has tracked nearly 3,900 store closings compared to about 1,800 openings this year.

Yet, while most clothing brands are racing to weed out underperforming stores, others are ramping up.

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

The future of the shopping mall is not about shopping

When Cirque du Soleil announced plans this week for a “family entertainment” concept inside a Toronto mall, it said a lot about the future of shopping centers.

The 24,000 sq.ft. space, called “Creactive”, will be a circus-inspired playground with a range of activities from juggling to high-wire – allowing fans to “peek behind the curtain and imagine themselves stepping into our artists’ shoes”, according to Marie Josée Lamy, producer of Creactive. “Hanging at the mall” will take on an entirely new connotation as shoppers take to the flying trapeze. And that’s the point.

No longer is it good enough for malls to be passive places to buy stuff – they have to be engaging places to do stuff. Otherwise, this particular retail format will be relegated to relic status – “a historical anachronism, a 60-year or so aberration that no longer meets the public’s, the consumer’s or the retailer’s needs”, as developer Rick Caruso mused.

With that point in mind, I draw your attention to Exhibit A: Randall Park Mall in Ohio. When it opened in 1976, Randall Park Mall was briefly the world’s biggest shopping center. It quickly lost relevance however, and by 2000, Randall Park Mall’s vacancy rate was 92%. Fast forward to 2017 when it was revealed that Amazon was constructing a 855,000 shipping center on the same site. Online triumphs over offline, or “software eats retail” as Netscape founder and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen memorably put it. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

 

 

Read more on Forbes

 

 

After two projects sank, can San Francisco find developers for decaying waterfront?

The new effort is one of the largest but also potentially costliest redevelopment opportunities in the city.

The Port of San Francisco is seeking ideas for new uses at 13 historic waterfront piers, in one of the largest but also potentially one of the costliest redevelopment opportunities in the city.

The agency wants proposals from both large developers and smaller tenants such as nonprofits, arts groups and retailers to revive the piers, which are now vacant or used for parking or storage.

Some previously renovated piers have been financial successes. Waterfront offices at the Ferry Building and Piers 1 1/2, 3 and 5 have signed tenants for rents over $100 per square foot. Control of the Piers later sold for $103 million in 2016, and the Ferry Building is expected to be sold to Hudson Pacific Properties for around $300 million, according to sources tracking the market.

But two recent redevelopment efforts failed because of the high costs of rehabilitating and seismically protecting piers. A study for the Port found that $74 million to $10 million would be required to bring a single pier up to code. Last year TMG Partners and Premier Structures, Inc. exited an office, event and restaurant space proposal at Pier 38 after the cost to repair the pier was expected to be as high as $122 million.

 

 

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

 

Exclusive: Nordstrom to close Stonestown location, leaving S.F. mall anchor-less

Nordstrom is preparing to close one of its San Francisco locations amid monumental shifts in the retail market that have upended the traditional department store model. 

The Seattle-based retailer is set to vacate its 174,000-square-foot location at Stonestown Galleria, according to Retail West Principal Matthew Holmes and another source with knowledge of the decision, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of pending lease negotiations at the property.

Holmes said the plan is for Nordstrom to close the location, which it has leased for the past three decades, leaving GGP another opportunity to backfill it with smaller tenants.

“It was never the grand Nordstrom like it is downtown,” Holmes said of the retailer’s 350,000-square-foot Market Street location. “They do so much more business in downtown, because it’s a showcase store for them. They’ve realized they don’t need two stores in San Francisco.

A Nordstrom spokeswoman said in an email that the retailer did not have any store closures to announce. Stonestown Mall operator General Growth Properties’ Darren Iverson, a senior general manager, declined to comment.

 

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

Big north San Jose live-work development of offices, shops, homes is proposed

A big mixed-use development is being eyed in north San Jose, an ambitious project that developers tout as a live-work complex of offices, homes and retail which could help ease the region’s traffic woes.

Sand Hill Property, the developer and owner of the project site, has requested a preliminary review of a proposal for 505,000 square feet of offices, 800 residential units and 13,000 square feet of retail on 9.3 acres at the southwest corner of North First Street and Orchard Parkway in San Jose.

“We are looking at a jobs-housing balance with this project,” said Steve Lynch, director of planning and entitlement with Palo Alto-based Sand Hill Property. “This is a significant site right on the light rail line.”

The proposal is in the very preliminary stages and is being floated as a way for Sand Hill and San Jose city officials to consider what sort of project would work at that location. The early stage review is occurring amid a wide-ranging effort by San Jose to establish guidelines for future development in the area.

North First Street is a heavily traveled route with a light rail line and a diverse array of tech companies.

“What Sand Hill is talking about is a mix of offices and residential, with some retail along North First Street,” said Patrick Kelly, a supervising planner with the city of San Jose. “It would be a transit employment center.”

Although considerable review of the proposal is still needed even in this preliminary stage, it’s possible this type of development conforms with the sorts of projects San Jose officials envision in the area, Kelly said.

 

 

Read more on The Mercury News

 

 

Exclusive: East Bay shopping center lands new grocery tenant to anchor redevelopment strategy

The new owners of the regional mall have mapped out a multi-phased plan to redevelop the East Bay property into a shopping and entertainment geared toward the region’s strong Asian demographic.

LBG Funds has finalized a 35,000-square-foot lease with Taiwanese grocer 99 Ranch Market to anchor the first of four phases that the Los-Angeles-based investor is planning for the once-struggling Richmond property.

Rebranded as the Shops at Hilltop, the first phase will also include leases for 55,000 square feet of restaurant space; new tenants for a 20,000-square-foot food hall and 12,000-square-foot food court; as well as a variety of incoming shops, entertainment and pop-up uses.

LBG is estimating work on the first retail phase will be completed in mid-2019.

 

 

Read more from San Francisco Business Times

 

 

 

Exclusive: $75 million renovation, office conversion proposed at San Francisco’s biggest shopping mall

Westfield San Francisco Centre, the city’s largest shopping center, could see a $75 million makeover and partial office space conversion. 

Mall landlords Westfield Corp. and Forest City Realty Trust Inc. proposed this week a renovation of tenant spaces, a new facade with more glass, and three new outdoor terraces for the 865 Market St. portion of the property. The companies also want to convert existing retail, storage and meeting space into 49,999 square feet of office space on the seventh and eighth floors. The proposal requires approval from the City Planning Commission.

Numerous retail spaces in the Bay Area and elsewhere are seeking to convert to office amid turmoil in the shopping sector.

 

Read more from San Francisco Business Times

 

 

San Jose mixed-use apartments eyed west of Google village

Plans for a mixed-use apartment and retail complex have sprouted west of downtown San Jose, a development that would bring more than 100 residences to an area known as the Midtown district.

The proposed development at 259 Meridian Ave. near West San Carlos Street would consist of 110 to 120 residential units and 2,300 square feet of retail, according to documents on file with San Jose city planners.

“The city has been encouraging development within an urban village planning process for this area,” said Jerry Strangis, a principal executive with Strangis Properties, a realty firm that is the project consultant for the development. Strangis wouldn’t identify the principal developer of the property.

 

Read more from The Mercury News