Oakland requires landlords to retrofit ‘soft-story’ buildings

Landlords have six years to retrofit the buildings, which are prone to substantial earthquake damage.

To prevent hundreds of multi-story, wood-frame apartment buildings from collapsing as they did in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, Oakland is requiring seismic upgrades of all those at risk in the next big shaker.

There are 1,479 such “soft-story” apartment buildings in the city constructed before 1991 — when the building code changed — that stand two to seven stories tall and contain five or more apartments, according to a 2008 analysis by the city and the Association of Bay Area Governments.Those buildings are supported by slim columns with either garages or storefronts underneath, and contain a total of 24,273 apartments.

With fears of the “big one” occurring any day now along the Hayward fault — which runs along northeast Oakland and south along Interstate 580 — the City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Dec. 14 making the seismic retrofitting of soft-story buildings with more than five units mandatory, giving landlords four to six years to get their buildings up to code.

“A major earthquake along the Hayward fault is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement released a week before the meeting. “As a city, we have a responsibility to put measures in place that will prevent injury and loss of life, and reduce displacement and recovery time in the aftermath of a major quake. This ordinance does all of those while also ensuring that we’re not placing an undue financial burden on property owners and tenants in our community.”

San Francisco passed a similar ordinance that went into effect in 2017; Berkeley and Fremont also require soft-story buildings to be seismically retrofitted. The Hayward council is scheduled to consider a similar measure in February.

In 2009, Oakland required soft-story building owners to gauge the potential earthquake damage that could occur. In the city’s 2015-2023 General Plan, officials called for the creation of a seismic safety retrofit program that would encourage retrofits through financial and procedural incentives.

Councilmember Dan Kalb — who introduced the ordinance — said city staff had been researching the risks of soft-story buildings and working toward the legislation for about four years. Though some California cities have required the buildings be retrofitted, others have not yet addressed the issue.

Seismic retrofits fall under the Oakland rent board’s definition of capital improvements, and thus up to 70 percent of the cost of may be passed on to the tenants. This ordinance requires that pass-through costs to tenants be dispersed over 25 years to prevent substantial rent hikes.

 

Read more on East Bay 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

 

 

Oakland may require landlords to retrofit seismically unsafe apartments

Oakland may soon require hundreds of old apartments to be seismically retrofitted in an effort to prevent a mass collapse of buildings in the next big earthquake.

The retrofit rules would apply to soft-story residential buildings: multiunit, wood-frame structures with weak first stories built before 1991. An apartment with garage parking in the ground floor or street-level retail could fall into the targeted category.

Such buildings are prone to collapse during earthquakes, when the combined weight of shaken upper levels becomes too much for the vulnerable first story, as Loma Prieta proved in 1989 and Northridge in 1994.

“You look at photos of (San Francisco’s) Marina District after ’89 — quite a few buildings looked like three stories when they used to be four,” said Thor Matteson, a structural engineer of the Bay Area firm Quake Bracing.

Oakland is believed to have more than 24,000 housing units in 1,400 to 2,800 soft-story buildings, defined as those with at least five units and two to seven stories, according to city estimates. The first step of the ordinance proposed by City Councilman Dan Kalb and Mayor Libby Schaaf involves finding out which buildings must be retrofitted and which are exempt, such as those that have already completed the work.

Building types would be divided into three tiers, and each category would be on a different timetable. Owners would have four to six years to complete the retrofit work.

Read more on the San Francisco Chronicle

Oakland’s building boom is giving rise to robos, virtual reality and other construction tech

With the building boom in full swing in Oakland, many contractors are using different technologies from productivity software to robots to improve productivity, efficiencies, and job-site safety.

Contractors that are ahead of the game are using drone technology, 3D modeling and building information modeling, virtual reality, print camera technology and mobile-friendly software, such as PlanGrid, which digitizes building plans and makes them accessible on any device. The startup was just bought by AutoDesk for $875M.

Nationwide, contractors are turning to these technologies to create better efficiency, supplement the workforce during a skilled-worker shortage and reduce mistakes and project costs.

Construction technology is still new to many contractors in Oakland, and it hasn’t yet been fully implemented. Because of this, some contractors are still running up against a lot of rework due to poor communication, PlanGrid Western Region Customer Advocate Ross Wagner said.

“Business out here hasn’t had the growth that San Francisco has had … but overall there certainly are people who are ahead of the curve in Oakland,” Wagner said. “The growth curve is just a little bit later.”

He said technology is allowing contractors to work together and increase productivity without having to go back and forth to the trailer to get information needed at the job site.

 

 

Read more on Bisnow Oakland

 

 

As housing pressures increase in the Bay Area, multifamily developers focus on Contra Costa County

With several multifamily developments rising up around the Bay Area, many developers have started to turn their attention to Contra Costa County.

With rents and housing prices rising around the Bay Area, parts of Contra Costa are becoming more affordable comparatively and ideal places for millennials and other generations to raise families.

Developers are hoping to capture this shifting demographic as demand for housing shifts to the outer areas of the Bay Area. Walnut Creek and Concord have specifically benefited lately from new investment.

“We always wanted to be in Walnut Creek,” Bay Rock Multifamily CEO Stuart Gruendl said during Bisnow’s Future of Contra Costa County event in early November. “The government here in Walnut Creek is somewhat pro-development.”

The city has two active specific plans, and Bay Rock is a stakeholder in the North Downtown Specific Plan. The developer owns a large parcel and has plans to build 52 units, Gruendl said.

Unlike other Bay Area markets, there aren’t thousands of units teed up in Walnut Creek, Gruendl said. The costs are rising in the Tri-Valley and are becoming cost-prohibitive. A no-growth movement is growing in Pleasanton so there will be a natural cap on growth in that area, which bodes well for Walnut Creek, he said.

Bay Rock is focusing on projects in Walnut Creek, Berkeley and Oakland. “We find tremendous value in this market,” The Address Co. CEO and founding partner Eric Chevalier said. “There’s an affordability factor as well. People are getting priced out of the South Bay and the market. … They are migrating in this direction.”

The Address Co. builds both for-sale and rental properties. The company is working on a multifamily project called Riviera in Walnut Creek and has three other projects in the city. It also is working on entitling a project in Richmond, a city which the company is bullish on, Chevalier said.

 

Read more on Bisnow Oakland

 

 

Major S.F. tech company eyes one of Oakland’s largest vacant office buildings

San Francisco-based fintech Square Inc. has eyed Oakland for a big lease, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The payments processing company reportedly looked at Uptown Station, a 356,000-square-foot refurbished, mixed-use building that is one of the largest blocks of office space available in Oakland.

“There are large tech tenants looking at Uptown, but none have landed yet,” Edward Del Beccaro, a managing director of Transwestern, told the Chronicle.

Landlord CIM Group has been chasing tenants for the space since it bought the building in December 2017 for $180 million. The approximately $40 million renovation of Uptown Station by Truebeck Construction is expected to finish early next year.

CIM picked up the property at 1955 Broadway from Uber Technologies, which had planned to move up to 2,000 employees into the space, but decided to consolidate in San Francisco instead.

Square has been on a growth tear as of late. Over the summer, it added 104,100 square feet to its San Francisco headquarters at 1455 Market St. for a total of 469,000 square feet there. It is also growing outside the Bay Area and internationally.

In addition to Uptown Station, Oakland has a handful of similar historic rehabs, including projects from TMG Partners and Harvest Properties.

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

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

 

 

 

Bay Area tops U.S. in new office space, but lags in housing starts

 The Bay Area is a hot place to build cubicles, conference rooms, and office suites. But don’t look for as many hammers pounding out new homes, condos, and apartments.

The region is expected to open 18.2 million square feet of office space in 2018 — tops in the nation and more than New York City and Dallas combined — while home, condo and apartment building has grown only modestly.

More work space, more jobs and more people chasing a limited supply of homes is expected to add more steam to the pressure cooker of the Bay Area housing market.

“It’s encouraging that so many respected employers are investing in Bay Area jobs and immigration growth” said Carl Guardino, CEO of the business-backed Silicon Valley Leadership Group. “But we all recognize that jobs need a place to go home and sleep at night.”

The region created six times as many jobs as housing units between 2010 and 2015, according to a study by the leadership group and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The increased housing pressure has forced lower-income workers out of the region at much faster rates than higher paid workers, even as jobs go unfilled.

The run up in commercial development is led by major office openings in the South Bay, according to a survey from real estate data company Yardi Matrix. The big projects in 2018 include the official, complete opening of the 2.9 million square foot Apple Park in Cupertino, Park Tower at Transbay and The Exchange on 16th in San Francisco totaling 1.5 million square feet, and Facebook’s MPK 21, a half-million-square-foot campus designed by Frank Gehry in Menlo Park.

Other major developments underway include the Voyager property developed by Nvidia in Santa Clara, Microsoft and Google projects in Mountain View, the Stoneridge Mall Road project in Pleasanton, and Moffett Towers in Sunnyvale, according to Yardi Matrix.

The real estate data firm estimates that commercial openings in Santa Clara County are up 6.5 percent over the same period last year. The San Francisco and Oakland metro has seen three times as much commercial space open up this year compared to last year.

 

 

Read more on The Mercury News

 

 

More density and time for Brooklyn Basin development as proposed

With only 241 of the fully-entitled project’s 3,100 units of housing to rise on the Brooklyn Basin site along Oakland’s waterfront currently under construction, the Signature Development Group is now seeking approval to add another 600 apartments to the project’s total.

As proposed, the additional units could be “accommodated” within the building envelopes for the development as already approved, without any changes to heights, massings or setbacks. But if approved, the overall timeline to complete the Brooklyn Basin development, which was expected to be completed by 2029, would be extended to 2038.

In addition to the increased density, Signature’s proposed changes also include an additional 158 boat slips around the future Shoreline Park, a new water taxi loading dock, and the potential flexibility to shift the approved locations of the development’s five towers which are currently entitled to rise up to 240 feet apiece.

 

Read more on SocketSite