Posts

New Richmond ferry draws developers and businesses to long-struggling city

A new ferry terminal has spurred development and optimism in Richmond.

Keba Konte hopes a new ferry in Richmond will bring his business scores of new customers.

Konte’s Red Bay Coffee, which currently operates three locations in Oakland, will cater to Richmond’s first ferry commuters in over two decades when the city opens its new $21 million ferry terminal on Jan. 10. He plans to park his coffee truck near the waterfront Craneway Pavilion.

“Richmond interests us because it shares the same spirit as the city of Oakland, a working-class city that has often been viewed as the underdog. It’s a developing city and we strive to be a part of that story,” Konte said.

The ferry terminal has spurred other businesses and developers to want to be a part of Richmond’s story as well. They’re attracted to the idea of a high-density waterfront community, a 35-minute commute to San Francisco and increased foot traffic to businesses and restaurants along the waterfront and downtown. Already, there are over 2,000 housing units slated to be built within five miles of the terminal, said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt.

“The waterfront is our biggest opportunity to promote Richmond,” Butt said. “The ferry service is going to accelerate some of these projects in the pipeline because a l lot of people are really anticipating that ferry. A lot of people commute to San Francisco from Richmond and areas around it. It’s going to be popular.

 

 

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

Is Richmond the new Oakland? New ferry terminal attracts SF homebuyers, stokes gentrification fears

During his 16 years selling homes in Richmond, realtor Mark Lederer has always seen buyers from San Francisco looking in the East Bay city.

But he says those numbers have gone up recently, thanks to both skyrocketing prices in SF and the soon-to-open Richmond-SF ferry service. In fact, he estimates that 30 to 40 percent of buyers in Point Richmond and Marina Bay, the two areas closest to the ferry, are moving from San Francisco.

“Most SF buyers see tremendous value in the different neighborhoods in Richmond,” he says. “This is because the price per square foot is less than half that of homes in San Francisco’s most desirable districts.”

He says high-end condos in Point Richmond have been going for up to $950,000, with prices starting as low as $500,000. In Marina Bay, the price point is a bit lower, with condos and townhomes starting at $300,000 and going up to the mid-$700,000 range.

Those looking for a single-family home are attracted to North and East Richmond, which is a five-minute drive or 15-minute bike ride to the new ferry terminal. “This neighborhood is full of 1920s homes that mimic those found in El Cerrito, Albany and Berkeley,” he says. “Prices range from $325,000 to $731,000 for a home. This area has seen tremendous growth over the last couple of years and a spike once the ferry terminal was announced.”

San Franciscans are certainly attracted to the prices in Richmond, but they also have their concerns, including what Lederer calls Richmond’s “tough crime-ridden image.” But he says this perception doesn’t do justice to all that Richmond has to offer. “The roughest parts of Richmond are an isolated area that is very small as compared to the entirety of Richmond,” he says. “Most of Richmond is full of beautiful housing, water access, beaches, trail and hillside access, great restaurants, fun pubs and great entertainment.”

Richmond realtor Cherie Carson compares Richmond to another East Bay city that has gotten a lot of attention from San Francisco buyers in recent years: Oakland. “Richmond is like Oakland in that there are many different neighborhoods to choose from,” she says.

Just like in Oakland, there are fears of gentrification from this new onslaught of buyers potentially driving up home values and rents. Richmond Vice Mayor Melvin Willis told the Chronicle that he’s concerned long-time residents could be priced out—not just in the tony neighborhoods closest to the ferry, but throughout the city. “If rents go up in certain areas around the ferry, that would cause rents to go up in other parts of Richmond,” Willis said.

 

 

 

Read more on SFGate

 

 

 

Richmond vacant property tax headed to November ballot

Richmond voters in November will decide whether to tax vacant properties to pay for homelessness services, affordable housing and other things.

The vacant property tax measure was inspired by one in Oakland, which was approved for the November ballot a few weeks ago, said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt. If Richmond voters pass the measure — it needs a two-thirds majority vote — a special parcel tax will be placed on vacant properties at the rate of $3,000 a year per vacant developed parcel and $6,000 a year per undeveloped parcel.

The tax would generate an estimated $5.4 million a year for the next 20 years, according to a report from Butt and Councilman Eduardo Martinez. That money will be earmarked for homelessness services, housing, blight, fighting illegal dumping and other specific programs.

There are 980 to 1,180 vacant parcels in the city and 250 vacant structures — most of which are abandoned homes, the report said. About 998 would be subject to the tax.

“In addition to creating a dedicated funding source, by taxing vacant properties, this measure will help encourage people to put those properties back into use, thus increasing the housing supply,” Martinez and Butt said in the report.

The measure passed unanimously at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Only one member of the public spoke on the measure; she was concerned that a vacant lot that she has owned since the 1980s and had turned into a garden would be taxed. City officials at the meeting said it would not be subject to the tax.

Property would be classified as vacant and subject to the tax if it is used less than 50 days a year. The tax would not apply to properties used as gardens or to host farmers markets, the report said.

A hardship exemption would be available to people who qualify as “very low-income” under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s guidelines. Very low-income is defined by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development as households who make 50 percent of the area median income. For Richmond in 2018, a family of four with an income of less than $58,100 would be classified as very low-income.

Vacant property owners who can prove that specific circumstances prevent the use or development of the property are also eligible for an exemption. For example, if a natural disaster damaged the property, or if an undeveloped property was being used as a yard for an adjoining property, it would be exempt. If the measure passes in November, the City Council would include details of that exemption in a  separate ordinance, the report said.

 

 

Read more on East Bay Times

 

 

 

Developer proposes nearly 1,000 units near Richmond BART station

A project that began over 15 years ago could be on the road to fruition.

Two developers are battling to bring hundreds of homes to Richmond.

In coming months, the City Council will choose between San Francisco’s oWow and SAA/EIR as the developer for a 5.8-acre parcel across the street from the Richmond BART station. The project is the second phase of the Richmond Transit Village or Metro Walk, a nearly 17-acre vision of housing and retail that has been in the works for over 15 years.

“This is the dram site,” said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt. “It fulfills a lot of the goals and objectives of sustainable policies from the city level to the state level.”

 

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

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