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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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Exclusive: 44-story Transbay tower proposed next to transit center

Another tower could join the forest of new skyscrapers in San Francisco’s Transbay district.

New plans for a 44-story highrise at 540 Howard St. call for 149 housing units and 52,403 square feet of office space. An existing three-story building, which houses Temple Nightclub, would be demolished.

The site is next to numerous massive projects, including the $2.2 billion Salesforce (formerly Transbay) Transit Center. On a neighboring parcel, Hines and Urban Pacific Development have proposed a 60-story, 800-foot tower with housing, office and a hotel at 550 Howard St., known as Parcel F. Developer Crescent heights has approval for a 495-foot residential tower at 524 Howard St., but the project has been delayed. Rising construction costs have made towers more challenging to build.

Warner Schmalz, an architect at Ankrom Moisan, is designing the 540 Howard St. project. The firm said he wasn’t immediately available to comment. property owner Wendy Hemming couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

It isn’t clear how tall 540 Howard St. would be, but the site is zoned for 450 feet, or less than half the height of the nearby 1,070-foot Salesforce Tower.

 

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

 

 

Details and Timing for Mission Bay Ferry and Water Taxi Service

San Francisco’s future Mission Bay Ferry Landing could be operational as early as 2021.

If the Port’s plans are approved as proposed, and the water is broken and dredging commences in mid-2019 as currently envisioned, San Francisco’s future Mission Bay Ferry Landing near the intersection of Terry A. Francois Boulevard and 16th Street, cater-corner to Chase Center and adjacent to the future Bayfront Park, could be now operational as early as the first quarter of 2021, as newly rendered below.

A proposed Water Taxi Landing, which is to be located approximately 400 feet south of the proposed Ferry Landing, adjacent to Agua Vista Park, could be operational six months earlier (August 2020).

And in addition to peak hour services to and from Alameda-Oakland, Vallejo and potentially Larkspur, linked via San Francisco’s Ferry Building terminal, special event services would be provided for all scheduled Golden State Warriors’ games and around 20 other big evening or weekend events at the Chase Center.

 

Read more from SocketSite

 

 

How to Find Continued Value in Apartment Acquisitions

With concessions ticking up and rent growth slowing, is it time to question or finetune allocation levels and strategies in multifamily investing?

The stability, durability and continued capital flows into multifamily investing permeate today’s headlines, with industry pundits believing apartments to be the most popular product type with real estate investors in 2018, second only to industrial. Mixed signals abound among varying markets, and it’s important to dissect and triangulate the real data as the analytics don’t always tell the full story.

A first quarter report from Fannie Mae cited:

  • Positive, but slowing net absorption in 2018 compared with 2017 (CoStar)
  • Surging apartment development, peaking at over 440,000 units nationwide and up 16 percent from 2017 (Dodge Data & Analytics)
  • Rising nationwide vacancy rate predicted to approach recent historical average of six percent by year-end (Fannie Mae)

With concessions ticking up and rent growth slowing, is it time to question or finetune allocation levels and strategies in multifamily investing? Two principal factors are worthy of consideration here: geography and investment horizon.

Nationally, development is projected to keep pace with net absorption, as Fannie Mae projects net rental demand of 380,000 to 460,000 units in 2018. However, parsing geographies more discerningly reveals that new multifamily construction has been heavily concentrated in America’s largest cities, where pockets of oversupply are projected. New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco present some of the highest unit construction per capita in the country, yet are all projected by Moody’s Analytics to experience job growth in 2018 that lags the national forecast of 1.5 percent.

All markets do not bear these metrics though, especially in select secondary markets where Fannie Mae reports the ratio of projected population and employment growth to rising apartment inventory is more favorable. Cities such as Houston, Dallas, Austin, Texas, Salt Lake City and Portland, Ore., even while seeing brisk construction, are forecast to increase job growth between two to three percent amid continued rental escalation. Two markets worth investigating include Phoenix, where projected 2.6 percent employment growth forecasts the demand for 10,000 units against projected 2018 delivery of 8,000 units, and Las Vegas, where projected 2018 absorption is double the number of units under construction.

Development nationwide should peak in 2018, as planned units in comparison to those under construction taper off, even in cities with the most active pipelines. This suggests that investors with a longer hold horizon may see their patience rewarded when new supply is absorbed and vacancy rates level off. Several long-term demographic trends also bode well for multifamily absorption and rental rates:

  • Householders continue to delay marriage and childbirth, thus tending to remain in apartments
  • Population growth in many areas, particularly in the Southwest, is being fueled by immigrants who tend to be renters
  • Real household income growth is occurring only in the upper 20 percent of earners, rendering home ownership less affordable for many
  • Student loan debt, which doubled as a percentage of GDP between 2006 and 2012, stymies home ownership for younger households
  • Conversely, the 65+ baby boomer generation, America’s most rapidly growing domestic cohort, is demanding more rental housing as they age out of owned homes and reevaluate their investment and retirement options

In our view, investors who choose their geographies wisely and take a long-game approach should see their properly selected multifamily investments buoyed by these market and demographic trends, while enjoying relatively predictable cash flows in the interim.

Read more from National Real Estate Investor