Posts

What are San Francisco’s plans for Mid-Market?

 Mid-Market’s vacancies, stalled developments trigger plants to activate dormant sites.

Stalled developments have meant boarded-up walls, vandalism and empty storefronts have become all too common along the upper stretch of Market Street. The city is hoping a new type of temporary permit will spark change.

Read more on NAI Northern California’s newsletter

Fruitvale: Transit and Community

More than just a BART station.

metro or subway station may seem one-dimensional, a jumping-off point from one place to another. But some stations are destinations, drawing in visitors on the basis of their own merits. They may be architectural gems, like Grand Central Terminal in New York City or shopping meccas like Shinjuku in Tokyo. A few go beyond attaining this status and have become communities unto themselves.

Fruitvale Station is one such place. It’s a thriving transportation hub that also possesses the elements of a long-standing community.

I commute to the city from Fruitvale Station every day, witnessing this tangible sense of community up close. My daily journey here began in January 2009, just a few weeks after Oscar Grant was shot and killed by a BART police officer in the early hours of New Year’s Day. The tenth anniversary of the tragedy happened on January 1 of this year, marking a milestone that has largely defined the identity of the station.

Fruitvale ingests passengers not only from its namesake neighborhood but also from other areas of Oakland and adjacent towns — as evidenced by the busy AC Transit buses and the jam-packed parking. The ongoing stream of humanity begins in the early morning with commuters and school kids and continues until the last train departs for Warm Springs at 1:00 a.m.

The first clue that more is afoot than simply moving people is the Fruitvale Village sign that stands next to the station entrance. Fruitvale Village was developed in the early 2000s by the Unity Council, a nonprofit Oakland group, and became an early model of transit-oriented development.

The development is home to housing and multiple community organizations, including institutions that are hallmarks of any civic community: a health clinic, a public library branch and a school. It also features shops and restaurants, most of them locally owned, like neighborhood Mexican food fixture Obelisco (formerly the Taco Grill). In 2017, Reem’s, an Arab bakery, opened to much acclaim. Owner Reem Assil has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation and major food publications. Equally notable, Assil has made social justice a core value of her business by hiring local workers and providing a living wage.

Read more at The Bold Italic

How low-cost chains are changing the retail game

Dollar store chains are among America’s fastest-growing retailers, but their impact on the industry is coming under increased scrutiny.

Nonprofit Institute for Local Self-Reliance reports that dollar stores are more prevalent than Walmart and McDonalds locations combined, and they feed more people than Whole Foods stores. In some urban neighborhoods, low-income and rural areas, dollar stores might be one of the only retail options for residents.

The number of dollar stores in America has grown from 20,000 in 2011 to almost 30,000, per ILSR. With many Americans living paycheck to paycheck, it’s not surprising these small-box stores selling affordable merchandise are thriving.

The ILSR report contends that dollar stores — which lack fresh produce and meat but offer a host of frozen, processed and canned food options — aren’t a symptom of economic distress in some communities, but the cause of it, as they stifle independent grocers and other local retailers.

“To the extent that dollar stores are filling, in some ways, a need in communities, I think that is true in the short term,” Marie Donahue, one of the report’s authors, told Civil Eats. “But really our research is demonstrating…those foods aren’t as good quality as full-service grocers or independent local stores, which may be able to connect to local farmers and the larger food system.”

 

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

BART picks developers for huge housing and office development at Lake Merritt in Oakland

Bay Area Regional Transit officials selected a development team to revamp three city blocks above the Lake Merritt BART Station in Oakland.

The agency picked Strada Investment Group and the East Bay Asian Local Development Corp. to develop 1.4 acres into two high-rise towers with 519 homes and 517,000 square feet of commercial space.

EBALDC is one of Oakland’s top nonprofit housing developers with 27 communities in the city. San Francisco-based Strada has owned multiple office buildings in downtown Oakland and has developed multiple projects in various Bay Area cities.

The winning team beat out proposals from global real estate investor Hines, Menlo Park-based Lane Partners and a partnership of Oakland-based McGrath Properties Inc. and Canadian investor Brookfield Residential. Lane Partners came in second, according to a BART staff report.

The BART board will formally vote to select the Strada/EBALDC Team at its meeting Thursday and start a two-year exclusive negotiating agreement to finalize the project. if the two sides fail to negotiate a project in that time frame, BART could then give Lane Partners a shot without having to do another selection process.

BART has wanted to develop its land above the Lake Merritt Station for years. The goal is to boost BART ridership and attract more residents, businesses, and pedestrians to a relatively quiet stretch of Oakland nestled between the city’s core downtown and the lake.

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

 

How Salesforce Transit Center helped transform a blighted neighborhood

At the start of the economic recovery, San Francisco’s Transbay District was speckled with underused parking lots and very few options for housing and offices.

Now, the neighborhood holds the city’s largest office and mixed-use towers, residential high-rises and 100K SF of retail at the $2.4B Salesforce Transit Center that will soon open.

“Salesforce Transit Center has become a reality that generated a building boom in that area,” Transbay Joint Powers Authority Executive Director Mark Zabaneh said. “The minute the developers saw the transit center under construction, they started developing the parcels.”

The Aug. 11 opening of the transit center’s rooftop park, Salesforce Park, marks the end of the center’s initial transformation. The bus terminal will open to full operations on Aug. 12.

“It’s going to be a really significant achievement that surpassed expectations,” Zabaneh said. “The park is a big attraction. There is very limited quality public space and the park provides 5.4 acres of really quality public space.”

He said there has been a lot of enthusiasm for the rooftop park and the most-asked question has been about the park’s opening date.

 

 

Read more on Bisnow SF

 

 

 

 

 

Young couples and retirees ditch the city for a new kind of suburb

The term “surban” describes a suburban community that offers the conveniences of urban life.

John Burns Real Estate Consulting trademarked the word in 2016. Urban planners have long described a marriage of residential and commercial as “mixed-use” communities. This surban concept, while not novel, has been gaining popularity over the past few years.

Chris Porter, chief demographer at John Burns, said it’s a no-brainer option for many Americans, especially younger couples without kids and empty nesters. Surban communities are often near transit hubs and also have amenities like boutique fitness options, high-quality grocery stores and popular restaurants.

“It’s about lifestyle. There’s this idea that urban environments traditionally don’t have great public schools and the suburban environments do. That’s why you actually see a lot of families, once they start to have kids, moving to the suburbs for school quality. You’ve got lower crime in suburban areas than you would have in urban areas. In urban areas you have walkability and public transportation… bringing some of those things to the suburbs in small downtown areas is really the concept that we see — the concept of surban,” he said in a new podcast.

Projects like Irvine Spectrum, a mega outdoor shopping mall with a residential village adjacent to it, and San Jose’s Santana Row, which brands itself as a “small town feel inside the big city,” are cropping up across California.

City Place in Edgewater, New Jersey, which has luxury apartments sitting above stores like Anthropologie, is right next to a multiplex cinema. Developers are even investing in teacher’s villages that offer the best of both urban and suburban worlds.

Read more on Yahoo Finance

 

 

Oakland’s growing pains could stifle future development

Dozens of cranes dot Oakland’s skyline and thousands of new housing units are in the works, making the current cycle one of the most robust in Oakland’s history.

As more people and businesses turn toward Oakland as a cheaper area to live and work, Oakland has struggled to keep up with both office and housing demand. Downtown Oakland is one of the tightest office markets in the country and multifamily rents have risen 51% since the start of the cycle.

Developers and designers are looking for ways to build more efficiently to keep rents down, but growing community activism, overworked city planning staff and tightening financing could stall future growth in Oakland.

Panelists discussed these topics as well as the impact of modular units and designing housing to meet residents’ changing needs during Bisnow’s Oakland Construction and Development Update event Thursday.

With 900 housing units delivering this year and 2,400 next year, the city is undergoing rapid change.

“Instead of the city [staff] focusing on department stores and auto dealerships, they’re making Oakland a very vibrant place to live,” Junction Properties owner Charles Long said during the event.

The increased development has spurred an anti-displacement movement and a backlash over a lack of affordable housing, which could shut down the future fulfillment of housing that Oakland has in its pipeline, he said.

Developers need to be more cognizant of working with the city and other stakeholders to better address the anti-displacement backlash, he said.

 

Read more on Bisnow

 

 

Development without gentrification? Oakland’s Fruitvale is the model, report says

Oakland’s Fruitvale transit village has been a boon to the surrounding community without gentrification

The cluster of shops, community service organizations and apartments at the Fruitvale BART station may not seem all that different from other commercial plazas, but to some economists and urban planners, it’s the grand prize of development — at least, for now.

Researchers from UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative say the transit village has been a boon to the surrounding neighborhood without resulting in gentrification. As many low-income and working class residents across the state are forced to leave urban areas due to rising rents and home prices, the UCLA researchers said Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood has held onto its existing residents, along with its signature Mexican-American culture.

“It’s the holy grail of urban planning,” said Alexander Quinn, an economist with Hatch, who reviewed the study’s findings, “to say we improved the place and the people who live there are better off.”

But long-time residents, academics and elected officials question whether Oakland’s Mexican-American mecca can continue to withstand the pressure of the region’s booming economy.  And, to them, the tide may already be turning.

Read more from East Bay Times