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krudmonk Sep 22, 2007 12:37 AM


Originally Posted by Frisco_Zig (Post 3066627)
I find the whole A's staduim thing to be a shame on many levels

More bad planning

If it becomes a stadium in a bland suburban environment, then it is a waste. If it becomes the centerpiece for a bustling new neighborhood and spurs urbanization in Fremont, what's there to hate?

San Frangelino Sep 25, 2007 9:30 PM



Spaces and places: Office park proposed in North San Jose
By Katherine Conrad
Mercury News
San Jose Mercury News

Article Launched:09/04/2007 01:34:37 AM PDT

It was only a year ago when Manou Mobedshahi turned the San Jose Hyatt into a Holiday Inn.
Now a developer wants to turn the hotel into an office park.

According to a filing last week with the San Jose planning department, TMG Partners of San Francisco proposes turning the 17-acre site, with its rambling two-story hotel, into 10- and 20-story office towers. Located on North First Street off Highway 101, next to a light-rail line and just a mile from the airport, the property is considered prime land for development.

Rich Watkins of TMG was not available to comment Friday, nor was Mobedshahi. But the hotelier said a year ago he was negotiating a long-range plan to build a mini-city of 2,500 condos, offices and hundreds of hotel rooms, after his 10-year contract with Holiday Inn expired.

"It would be a vertical Santana Row, only much more organic," Mobedshahi said in 2006, acknowledging that such a project could take a decade or more to develop.

Preliminary plans submitted to the city call for demolishing the existing hotel and constructing two 10-story office buildings totaling 500,000 square feet and a six-level parking garage in phase one. Phase two proposes a 20-story, 500,000-square-foot tower with a parking garage.
Jean Hamilton, acting planning official for the city, said TMG's proposal was only one of several recently submitted to the city for development of North San Jose. Tishman Speyer, which bought nearby property from BEA Systems earlier this year, proposes a several million-square-foot office and retail development, and the Irvine Co. received approval last Tuesday to build up to 1,900 residential units in the area.

"It's definitely in the direction the city envisions, supporting the intensification of North San Jose," Hamilton said. "We're getting a lot of interest."
The next step involves the city vetting the applications with various departments to ensure the building heights don't pose a risk given the proximity of the airport.

Another green office project:

Opus West announced plans to build two office towers, totaling 448,000 square feet, at Sierra Point in South San Francisco.
The project will meet green policies outlined by the U.S. Green Building Council in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design guidelines.
Both buildings will feature cool roofs, bike racks and showers, window glazing, water-efficient landscaping and water-use reductions that result in 20 percent reductions.

Frisco_Zig Sep 26, 2007 5:05 AM

the lack of transit for one thing

Originally Posted by krudmonk (Post 3068038)
If it becomes a stadium in a bland suburban environment, then it is a waste. If it becomes the centerpiece for a bustling new neighborhood and spurs urbanization in Fremont, what's there to hate?

I have a hard time envisioning this becoming anything more than a Baseball Disneyland or having any real connection to Fremont. As I understand the site it's greenfield and miles from any public transit and across the freeway from developed Fremont

Its a real shame this isn't going into downtown Oakland or similar site. There you would see real revitalization

This is a particularly strong opinion I have about baseball. It is a perfect downtown sport. I have no problem with football moving to the suburbs

Frisco_Zig Sep 26, 2007 5:09 AM

there is no public transit at Sierra Point in South San Francisco

peanut gallery Sep 26, 2007 5:51 AM


Originally Posted by Frisco_Zig (Post 3075563)
As I understand the site it's greenfield and miles from any public transit and across the freeway from developed Fremont

Your understanding is incorrect. It is going into an already cleared and turned lot that was going to be a Cisco campus anyway. It is bordered on three sides by existing mixed use development. If not already, this area will be serviced by AC Transit when the stadium, village and housing gets built. ACE and Capitol Corridor run right past it and the plan includes a new station here. The only drawback is that it is 5 miles from the current Fremont BART station and at least a mile from the planned Warm Springs station. Shuttles are fine for the airport, but with the volume needed before and after games, I don't know how that would work.

I agree that it would have been preferrable in downtown Oakland. Unfortunately for the A's, Jerry Brown had other plans for the one realistic site: Uptown. The rest of downtown Oakland is built out, and the team and city officials weren't willing to employ eminent domain.

On the plus side for Fremont, this area could become that city's de facto downtown. Something it is lacking today.

San Frangelino Sep 27, 2007 4:23 PM



Shorenstein, MetLife pair up for office building in downtown Oakland
San Francisco Business Times - by Ryan Tate

Shorenstein named a financial partner and groundbreaking date for its long-planned "T-12" office tower in downtown Oakland.

Shorenstein said MetLife Real Estate Investments would invest in the venture.

Just over 20 stories tall, the tower is part of the City Center office complex, which is nearly completely leased as growth by health giant Kaiser compresses office space in downtown Oakland amid a housing boom.

Shorenstein preserved the option of using the site for office, however, and ultimately pursued that plan amid the residential downturn, which has prompted developers in Oakland to cut prices and offer incentives like two years of paid homeowners' association dues.

Shorenstein must build on the site by 2009.

The company announced it plans to break ground in spring 2008.

It also disclosed that it plans to seek LEED certification on the building.

It is not yet clear whether the building will house a World Trade Center office. Mayor Ron Dellums during his election campaign last year advocated attracting a large World Trade Center facility to Oakland as a way to stimulate growth, and the T-12 site emerged as a potential site for such a center after proponents lost their bid to house the center at the former Kaiser Convention Center.

Does anyone know if T 5-6 is available to build on? I always thought it would a great spot for vertical mall and a tall mixed-use tower.

San Frangelino Sep 27, 2007 5:55 PM

Older Renderings of the aforementioned from as pointed out by Dimondpark.

Apparently via the blog above the design has changed. It was to be 378 feet, making it one of the tallest on the Oakland skyline. Not sure what the height will be with the recent submission it's mentioned to be 23 stories.

peanut gallery Sep 27, 2007 6:42 PM

Yeah about T-12! Say goodbye to another downtown surface lot! T 5-6 I believe is a mostly underground parking garage. I thought they wee tearing it up last time I was down there, but I could be thinking about another block.

San Frangelino Oct 5, 2007 2:46 PM

First some bad news from:


Friday, October 5, 2007
Olson halts big Oakland condo project
San Francisco Business Times - by Ryan Tate

Developer Olson Co. quietly halted construction on a half-finished condominium project in downtown Oakland, a troublesome turn for a project long seen by city officials as the centerpiece of their downtown housing push.

The construction freeze at City Walk comes amid a rash of cancellations and slowdowns for housing developments in downtown Oakland.

"It's a tough market right now," said Stuart Greundl, who is leading BayRock Residential's nearly-complete development of an 11-story condominium tower on the edge of Oakland Chinatown. "It's slow. But it's still plugging along."

There are roughly 1,300 market-rate condos available in the city, not counting projects smaller than 20 units, just under half of which have been on the market for one year or more. Another 1,600 rental and for-sale units are under construction.

San Frangelino Oct 5, 2007 3:11 PM

More Development for Oakland's Fruitvale District.

This via:

Gateway Community Development Project
29th Ave @ East 12th Street ( south side of East 12th Street, roughly between 26th Ave in the west and Derby Ave in the east)

View Looking South (Sorry it's all in B/W)

Site Plan

Project Description

There is also this from:


Friday, October 5, 2007
Signature Properties to develop for-sale homes at Fruitvale Transit Village
East Bay Business Times - by Jessica Saunders

Signature Properties has submitted preliminary plans for up to 450 condominiums in the second phase of Fruitvale Transit Village in Oakland, an award-winning mixed-use development centered around BART's fourth-busiest station.

The first phase of the transit-oriented development, which opened next to Fruitvale BART station in 2003 and was completed in 2004, includes 47 apartments, 114,510 square feet of office space, 39,707 square feet of retail, and 850 parking spaces. The second phase, set to break ground in mid-2009, will initially include 92 for-sale units, with two additional phases up to a maximum 450 units.

Signature Properties was chosen as the phase II residential developer a year ago, but its involvement wasn't announced until Sept. 27, about the time it filed with the Oakland Planning Commission. The Pleasanton-based builder spent the year working with BART and developing "very, very conceptual" preliminary plans, Signature Properties President Michael Ghielmetti said.

"We are really excited about the neighborhood. ... It's a really cool place most of the world doesn't know about," he said.

BTinSF Oct 5, 2007 3:27 PM

Olson halts big Oakland condo project

Olson halts big Oakland condo project
San Francisco Business Times - by Ryan Tate

Developer Olson Co. quietly halted construction on a half-finished condominium project in downtown Oakland, a troublesome turn for a project long seen by city officials as the centerpiece of their downtown housing push.

The construction freeze at City Walk comes amid a rash of cancellations and slowdowns for housing developments in downtown Oakland.

"It's a tough market right now," said Stuart Greundl, who is leading BayRock Residential's nearly-complete development of an 11-story condominium tower on the edge of Oakland Chinatown. "It's slow. But it's still plugging along."

There are roughly 1,300 market-rate condos available in the city, not counting projects smaller than 20 units, just under half of which have been on the market for one year or more. Another 1,600 rental and for-sale units are under construction.

Meanwhile, many lenders have stopped extending common forms of construction financing amid the debt market turbulence. Combined with falling prices and fears of glut in supply, that's sending developers throughout the city back to the drawing board.

Olson is the most dramatic example. The company confirmed it ceased construction on its 252-unit, seven-story City Walk project July 24, saying general contractor UPA California stopped work on the site at 1260 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Olson declined to comment on when construction might resume, and city officials said they had no indication from the company on when the project might start up again.

Dick Whitney, a senior vice president at UPA, said the company had not been paid by Olson, filed suit against the company and is now busy working on other projects. Olson declined to comment on UPA's allegations.

Olson bought the land from the city's redevelopment agency in 2004 after a previous developer abandoned plans for a 36-story, 480-unit rental tower, saying the rental market was too weak. Ironically, the rental market is now surging right around the time that project would have been coming to market, with Bay Area rents up 7 percent this year to $1,499 according to RealFacts.

Other developers are feeling the chillier market as well. Developer Alan Dones delivered an office building to Alameda County in November 2005, on time and under budget. But he's intentionally dragging his heels on 88 units of housing going in above a parking lot completed at the same time as the office building.

There was also an unplanned delay when construction temporarily stopped due to unspecified "issues" with a contractor, said Dones, who left a message but was traveling in Belize and could not be reached for elaboration.

Dones has construction under way again, but said he is taking a "more deliberate pace" in order to meet the housing market in spring, roughly a year later than originally planned.

"The market is a little slow," Dones said.

Dones and Olson are not alone. Over the past six months, three of the projects on the city's official list of "Major Development Projects" have been withdrawn or become inactive.

They include a 356-unit condo tower at 226 13th Street, a 315-residential-unit project called Cathedral Park at 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in the Upper Broadway district of downtown and a 43-story tower at 1930 Broadway that was to mix office with housing, retail or hotel and is being reconfigured.

In July, the average sale price of a non-subsidized Oakland condominium fell to an average $435 per square foot from $450 per square foot in the first quarter, according to condo marketing firm the Mark Company. / (415) 288-4968

San Frangelino Oct 5, 2007 3:45 PM


Olson bought the land from the city's redevelopment agency in 2004 after a previous developer abandoned plans for a 36-story, 480-unit rental tower, saying the rental market was too weak. Ironically, the rental market is now surging right around the time that project would have been coming to market, with Bay Area rents up 7 percent this year to $1,499 according to RealFacts.
OOOH...that hurts.

BTinSF Oct 5, 2007 4:49 PM

^^^Makes you wonder why they don't finish the thing as a rental.

rocketman_95046 Oct 8, 2007 12:16 AM

Shaping North First Street
Friday, October 5, 2007
Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal - by Sharon Simonson

Green stamp pushed
San Jose District 4 Councilman Kansen Chu wants new North San Jose structures to earn an environmental stamp of approval from the Washington, D.C.,- based U.S. Green Building Council.

"My office is pushing hard for the LEED Silver certification," Chu says. "You hear about the global warming, and you know the environmental impact (of construction). I feel San Jose should take some leadership."

Silver certification is the second-most stringent in a four-tier ranking that the Green Building Council uses, with Gold and Platinum levels being more difficult to attain and basic certification being somewhat easier. The standards address not only the emission of carbon-dioxide from energy consumption but also such things as indoor air quality, water use, and limiting waste, particularly from construction materials.

"The goal is to create high-performing buildings, buildings that require less maintenance and are less costly over time and are healthier for the people inside," says Ashley Katz of the U.S. Green Building Council.

But Chu's initiative is raising questions about the implementation of the city's North San Jose redevelopment plan, a crucial effort to re-build what has been the most important employment center and tax-base in Silicon Valley's largest community.

Developers and property owners in the area say recent city actions make them fear the city is going to pile on new and costly requirements, like the Silver LEED certification, just as the 5,000-acre project is gaining momentum. If so, they argue, the jobs and tax-generating power of the plan would be undercut. Chu himself acknowledges that getting the Silver designation could add construction expense.

Other members of the San Jose City Council have already tried to temper Chu's enthusiasm. During a Sept. 25 council meeting, Chu moved to approve the rezoning of two North San Jose sites to make way for the construction of nearly 900 new apartments and condos, but only under the condition that the new development attain the LEED Silver designation. The memo was issued shortly before the meeting, a fact for which Chu apologized and which he later acknowledged was not fair. Staff reports on the projects do not discuss imposing the condition.

Ed McCoy, a vice president for the developer Fairfield Residential LLC, told Chu and the council that the conditions would effectively kill the projects, which together would represent a $350 million investment and some $3.5 million a year in new property taxes for local governments. The council voted to ask Fairfield to build to the "equivalent" of the LEED Silver standard. It did not define what "equivalent" meant.

A $100 million housing project being proposed by Barry Swenson Builder, also in North San Jose but outside Chu's district, was not held to the same standard. Chu said after the meeting he is O.K. with the substitution.

At the urging of City Attorney Rick Doyle, the council also directed staff to formulate a city-wide policy on the issue, so as to avoid acting on an ad-hoc basis.
San Jose spent years developing its North San Jose plan, which, more than anything else, is intended to be a local economic driver. However, the land-use in the plan adopts environmentally friendly principles. Housing is to be built mostly at densities of no less than 55 units an acre and up to 90. Industrial buildings will be mid- and higher-rises, not the single-story or lower-rise workplace buildings that often characterize North San Jose now. The entire project is anchored by the North First Street transit line, with the underlying notion that people will live in the nearby housing, use the trolley to get to and from work, and rarely use cars.

While an environmental impact report the city prepared in anticipation of the plan's execution discusses using "green building" techniques on private development, it talks about them only as "voluntary."

Of course, for building owners and developers, the largest questions about adopting LEED building standards are whether they make construction more expensive and if the investment is returned with interest. Rank-and-file tenants like the idea of occupying a "green" building, one developer says. But unless they are major corporations concerned about such factors as public image, they aren't willing to pay more.

Rents are directly related to the cost of construction. If market rents don't produce a return sufficient to compensate a developer for the cost of construction plus some risk premium -- development is a high-risk business -- projects do not get done.

Asked if LEED designed buildings are financially sound, David Kaneda, founder and president of San Jose's Integrated Design Associates Inc., says, "In general, they are, but it depends on how far you take it and what you do. If you look at research on the cost of LEED, the numbers are all over the place, but on average, they are more expensive than other buildings."

Kaneda has gained local fame in recent weeks as word has spread of his effort to build a "zero energy" building for his business that produces as much energy as it uses by combining energy-saving building methods and operating standards with the addition of photovoltaic panels to capture the sun's energy. The building is intended as a laboratory to test technologies on which he advises his clients. The company designs electrical and lighting systems with a focus on sustainable and high-efficiency design. So far -- and he has only been in the building for a number of weeks -- he's found the experience "frustrating," Kaneda says, because systems are not operating perfectly and still need to be fine tuned.

Kaneda expects his building to gain Silver LEED certification, but says his emphasis was mostly on producing less carbon dioxide, something that adhering to LEED standards alone does not necessarily do.

The irony in the entire debate is that San Jose's downtown City Hall is not Silver certified. Indeed, San Jose has achieved no Green Building certification at all for City Hall, though records show it began trying in May 2007 under the LEED "Existing Buildings" rating system.

Matt Morely, City Hall facility manager, says the problem has been compiling the documentation that the Green Building Council demands, not City Hall's instruction. The city is on track to submit its paperwork to the Green Building Council early next year and hopes to achieve at least a Gold level certification.

City Hall opened in 2005. Chu did not gain his seat on the council until this year.

Developers eye debate on schools
The city of San Jose and the Santa Clara Unified School District are struggling to find common ground in a debate over as much as $400 million in potential new costs for the redevelopment of North First Street.

Central to the disagreement, brewing since 2005, are widely differing opinions about how many new students will arrive at the Santa Clara district's doorsteps when an expected 32,000 new homes are built in the area over the next three decades.

A new study, paid for by the city but commissioned by the school district, is also questioning whether the city's housing plans for North San Jose will provide the work force mix that companies will need.

Meanwhile, developers and property owners with North San Jose interests are watching events with concern, fearing that the ultimate outcome will be greater costs to them.

But a city executive with extensive knowledge of the North San Jose plan says he is confident that the city and school district will reach compromise.

John Weis, deputy executive director for the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, says progress toward compromise has already begun and he asserts categorically that developers will not face new fees related to the schools issue or any other current North San Jose initiative.

At issue is the success or failure of what is viewed as the most important economic-development plan in San Jose today. North San Jose is home to some of the region's most important companies including Cisco Systems Inc. and eBay Inc., both of which employ thousands. They and other North San Jose companies also have been the source of millions of dollars of tax revenue for San Jose, some of which has financed construction of thousands of affordable homes.

Since Silicon Valley's economic collapse in 2001 and 2002, however, the area has suffered disproportionately. Industrial vacancy rates remain high, and many buildings are considered economically obsolete. Tax revenue has suffered.

In response, San Jose has sought to rejigger area land-use policies. The city has upped development densities dramatically to encourage vertical office development that companies want and to make room for new housing development because companies complained that their workers had no place nearby to live.

The new density plan increases land values but also requires $570 million in infrastructure investments, largely on roads. Developers and property owners are being asked to finance $460 million of that total. For every 100,000 square feet of office space, they will have to pay $1.1 million in assessments. Home builders will pay some $7,000 for every new apartment and condo built.

Developers say they accepted those fees thinking they would finance all of the public improvements that would need to be done. Now, however, it is unclear if that will be the case. If too many new requirements are pasted on top of what is already in place, including a new push to force stringent new green-development standards, they say, it will make new development in North San Jose economically difficult if not impossible.

"I am not as alarmed as I might be because nothing has been decided yet. But it is concerning the way it seems to be going," says Art Kennedy, an executive of Equity Office Properties, a unit of The Blackstone Group and one of the largest office building owners in North San Jose. "We thought the fees were done, and we've run (development) pro formas based on those fees."

Kennedy is one of five developer representatives on a new 25-member North San Jose Neighborhoods Planning Task Force.

The city's attitude toward the Santa Clara school district appears to have evolved in recent months as North San Jose homeowners have exerted increasing political pressure, finding what appears a particularly listening ear in their new District 4 Councilman Kansen Chu. Chu was elected to fill the incomplete term of now-Mayor Chuck Reed when Reed assumed the mayoral seat. Chu won on a platform that included championing the residents' cause. Chu faces re-election next year.

A staff person for Chu says his office is not aware that developers are worried about additional assessments for the area, nor are they aware that developers are questioning if they will be hit with new fees.

For its part, the school district says it has been beating the city's door for years, to little avail. Public record appears to support the claim.

"We started raising the red flag at the city in June 2005, and we went to the city council, and they ignored us," says Roger Barnes, the business administrator for the Santa Clara Unified School District. "At first the city was very feisty. They had their plan, and they were going to work their plan, and they weren't going to listen to anyone else. But someone -- maybe the mayor or Chu -- has turned it around, and now they have several people working on it."

The district is not opposed to North San Jose's redevelopment and recognizes the need to keep the region's economy vibrant, he adds.

According to the July 2007 study by Menlo Park's Schoolhouse Services, depending on how many homes are ultimately built in the Santa Clara district, the new housing will generate from 3,500 to 4,700 new school kids. Based on the lower number, the school district will need one small high school and four elementary schools, two of which would include middle schools.

The cost to develop those schools, including the cost of the land, is an estimated $400 million, Barnes and the study say. If developer fees raise an estimated $50 million, that leaves the school district with $350 million in unfunded costs.

Beyond that, because North San Jose is in a redevelopment "project area," property taxes that would otherwise go to schools are going to the city of San Jose's redevelopment agency. The school district also wants the city to address that by giving it revenue.

The study also asserts that demand for the high-density housing of between 55 and 90 dwelling units an acre that makes up all but about 7,000 of the units planned in North San Jose is not as deep as the city believes. Consequently, housing developers will attempt to expand their product offerings, which will generate more school-aged kids, the study concludes.

The redevelopment agency's Weis is skeptical, saying the assertion is based on the consultant's "philosophical" bent and not on the city's empirical work: interviews with the companies themselves

"That consultant does not make policy for the city of San Jose. The council does," he says.

Moreover, he says, the city will have the luxury of testing its beliefs: After the first new housing units are built in North San Jose, the city can go back to see what sort of student generation rates there are. At present, there are about 9,500 units in the planning stage, he says, and in the next couple of years many of them will be built.

"We will have some breathing room to give us time to observe," he says. "This is a 30-year plan. I've never done a 30-year plan where you've known everything from the start, and I've done a lot of them."

SHARON SIMONSON covers real estate for the Business Journal. Reach her at (408) 299-1853.^1530265&page=1

San Frangelino Oct 8, 2007 1:05 AM

Thanks for sharing that Rocketman....I saw that article online and really was hoping someone would have a subscription to the silicon valley business times to post it. I am curious to see how North First Street plays out, and what quality of urban enviroment gets built. I suspect it won't be anything radically different from mission bay, but I woud hope that the architecture would end up being something more radical.

krudmonk Oct 8, 2007 1:21 AM

I would welcome something like Mission Bay to North First. Right now it's nothing but sterile office parks with the occasional Quizno's or Starbuck's. It's definitely more Silicon Valley than San Jose.

San Frangelino Oct 13, 2007 1:30 AM



Friday, October 12, 2007
Axis sales a glimpse of future

Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal - by Sharon Simonson

Next month, sales begin at downtown San Jose's Axis, the 329-unit, luxury condo tower rising behind the historic Hotel De Anza.

The development's backers, Oregon's Spring Capital Group and Cupertino's KT Properties, won't be the only ones watching with deep interest. A lot of other people will, too.

For developers with product in the market, Axis represents new competition. For would-be developers, its fate will provide insight into the depth and strength of downtown buyer demand. For lenders, another set of data points can be charted.

For 33-year-old Tony Sum, co-founder of Silicon Valley Lofts & Condos, buyer response to Axis could mean the difference between a good idea and a great one: It will either bolster or bombard his 18-month-old real estate brokerage, which is dedicated to trading downtown San Jose's urban homes.

"We were looking to get in early on an expanding market, and we are hoping that downtown becomes the vibrant living place that everyone is anticipating it to be," Sum says.

But Axis' success and the success of the three other downtown condo tower projects is even bigger than all that. For decades, downtown has been the fortunate recipient of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. The mission has been ambitious: to re-make the center city from a decrepit legacy of post-war suburbanization to an urban hub; to give San Jose a regional and national identity; and to prove the wisdom of "smart-growth" policies so favored by urban planners and politically robust environmentalists.

The investment has not gone without cost. San Jose neighborhoods -- arguably as much in need as downtown -- have gone without as a result, forsaking community centers, libraries, fire and police stations, parks, playground equipment, pools -- literally hundreds of public amenities -- as city leaders across multiple administrations have adopted the same approach.

Now the wisdom of that policy is on the cusp of possibly its most significant test. Because if Axis and the other towers don't find enthusiastic buyers and developers and lenders don't make money, no more high-rise condos will be built in downtown, maybe for a very long time. And if no more such housing gets built, the entire city vision could become blurred.

No one is watching with greater focus than Alex Erickson, principal and co-founder of Northpoint Development. The newly formed San Jose company is pursuing high-rise living on four downtown San Jose sites. So far, it has secured $8 million in financing to gain entitlements for all four. It hopes to start construction on Phase One next summer on the most modest, a $70 million, two-tower, 164-unit complex at Delmas and Auzerais avenues just across the Guadalupe Expressway from Discovery Meadow and the Children's Discovery Museum.

The project will be "kid friendly," unlike all others proposed for downtown now, with slightly larger units and a "tot lot," he says. It is aimed at families who have grown tired of a commute and with at least one employee downtown.

"We are definitely hinging on their success," says Erickson of Axis and The 88, the project being developed by San Francisco's Wilson Meany Sullivan at San Fernando and Third streets in downtown. The first phase of The 88, with 197 units, begins sales in February. The first move-ins are expected June 1, about the same time as at Axis.

Already, Erickson says, he has had to resign himself to signing a recourse loan to get Delmas built, and he acknowledges that, even then, getting it financed is "going to be a challenge."

Still, he says, once units at The 88 and the Axis begin to close escrow, "that is what is going to give me comps to show (lenders), 'This is what will sell for $850 a square foot. I can sell this comparable unit for the same amount. Give me a building loan.'"

There is no question that the bloom is off the condo rose elsewhere in the nation. The troubles in San Diego, Las Vegas and Florida have been well-publicized. So have condo buyers' attempts to abandon commitments made during construction once their homes become available for occupancy months later. In some cases, buyers have been willing to walk away from thousands of dollars in deposits based on the belief that the value of their purchase has fallen so precipitously in the time from agreeing to the deal and the ultimate close. In those cases, developers -- and their lenders -- are left holding the bag.

That kind of scenario -- though it seems unlikely in San Jose right now -- is something that gives lender Raymond Au pause. The loan officer for Pacific National Bank says he is extremely pleased with the market response and home sales at San Jose's 360 Residences, the 213-unit high-rise being developed by Chicago's Mesa Development LLC and financed by Au's bank. He declines to give specific sales performance numbers for the development, which is rising near East San Carlos and South First Street. Mesa itself did not respond to a request made through its publicist.

"We all know that the velocity of absorption has slowed down," Au says. "So far, it has not really affected median home prices (in Silicon Valley). But who knows six months down the line? We are only at the front end of a down cycle."

He, too, is watching events at Axis and The 88. Were either to adopt fire-sale practices, for instance, it could suck buyers away from Mesa and depress prices, starting the kind of downward spiral that has proved disastrous elsewhere.

Mesa could be especially susceptible to that series of events. The company began selling its units some nine months ago, at roughly the same time construction began on its tower. Buyers today won't get delivery for another 18 months. That means buyers will be subject to whatever vicissitudes the market delivers -- good and bad -- between now and then.

Both Axis and The 88 chose to begin their sales much farther into construction. Seth Bland, Wilson Meany's project manager for The 88, says the factors behind their decision were multiple, but at least one was their desire to avoid "selling... units multiple times."

Right now, market conditions in Silicon Valley are among the healthiest in the state, says Leslie Appleton-Young, the plainspoken economist for the California Association of Realtors. Jobs are being created, a key to housing demand, and the overbuilding that has led to problems elsewhere does not plague the South Bay. Beyond that, the stock market is doing well, something that is more of an issue for Silicon Valley buyers than anywhere else in the state.

People are extremely interested in and curious about the new high-rise condo units coming out of the ground, says downtown real estate agent Sum. Empty-nesters in particular are ready to give up the headaches of owning in the suburbs and hunger for a lifestyle that allows them to walk to dinner and a movie and leave on vacations with no more worries than locking a front door.

Still, he says, downtown retains a "stigma" of being a "rough neighborhood," an issue of particular interest to the older set.

"We still have clients ask all of the time, 'Is it safe downtown?'" he says. Consequently, "City officials are going to have to look at the types of businesses that we have downtown" to make sure they are not fostering activities that undermine downtown's attraction to that key customer base.

In the same vein, he notes, the young professionals with no kids that developers and city planners seem convinced will make up another core downtown buying pool can't afford the prices on high-rise units on offer today. They often have little or no equity and their credit prospects are dimmer than those of their more stable and richer elders.

How all of this will play out on the ground is of course the ultimate question, Sum notes. "It will be interesting" to watch, he adds. "I hope it will all be OK."

peanut gallery Oct 16, 2007 6:30 PM

SF Chronicle update from this weekend on Oakland's Uptown Development. The Forest City plot mentioned in the article is where the A's had hoped to build a new urban ballpark village. Ex-Mayor Brown preferred it to be developed into housing. As an A's fan, I was dissapointed. But I'm glad to see the development become reality, rather than nothing at all.

Also buried in here is a very brief update on Oakland's Oak-to-Ninth Street development along the waterfront. Signature Properties (one of the developers at Uptown) hope to break ground on that next year. All-in-all there's a lot happening in Oakland these days.


Jerry Brown's downtown vision still sparkles with Signature and other developments

Dana Perrigan, Special to The Chronicle
Sunday, October 14, 2007

When Jerry Brown was elected mayor of Oakland in 1998, a lot of people thought the city was a bit like the Tin Man in the "Wizard of Oz": It had a lot of things going for it, it was full of potential - but it didn't have a heart.

Career politician Brown has since gone on to work as state attorney general, but long before embarking on the yellow brick to Sacramento he announced his 10K Housing Initiative. Bring 10,000 new residents downtown, he said, and their collective heartbeat would surely revive the area from its lingering malaise.

It has been nearly a decade since Brown began his initiative. Those who believed in it, invested in it and remained behind to carry it out say the former mayor's vision - despite the recent cackles of the wicked witch over the current real estate market - is alive and well.

Mike Ghielmetti counts himself among that group.

"Twelve months from now, this area will be transformed," said Ghielmetti, president of Signature Properties.

On a bright and blustery afternoon with more than a hint of autumn in the air, Ghielmetti leads the way from his firm's sales office to the entrance of the new Broadway Grand - a stylish, Art Deco-inspired building featuring 132 new condominiums and town homes in the heart of Oakland's Uptown neighborhood.

With underground parking and 20,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, Broadway Grand represents Signature's contribution to the revitalization effort. Signature bought the property two years ago, broke ground soon after that and plans to have it ready for occupancy in a month or two.

The condos begin on the fourth floor of the seven-story building. Built around the perimeter of a large central courtyard lined with planter boxes and private patios, they range in size and price from the 722-square-foot one-bedroom for $387,000 to the 2,108-square-foot four-bedroom, three-bath for $901,900.

With hardwood floors, recessed lighting, room-by-room temperature control, higher-end appliances and fixtures and generous views of the urban landscape below, they seem to be the embodiment of Brown's promise of "elegant density."

Ghielmetti isn't very worried about the condition of the current market. He's been in the business long enough to know that it's cyclical, and that if you build a good product it'll usually work out. He plans to break ground on Phase II - an adjacent parcel that runs up to 24th Street - next summer. When completed, it will add 370 new homes and 120,000 square feet of retail space to the area.

"I think in a market like this there's a certain amount of caution," he said. "(People) aren't buying sight unseen like they were a couple of years ago, but we're making sales."

Ghielmetti is also moving forward on the huge Oak-to-Ninth project, a 62-acre mixed-use, urban-infill development on Port of Oakland land south of Jack London Square. The project includes 3,100 housing units and 200,000 square feet of retail space. Signature hopes to break ground on the 15- to 20-year project next year.

Standing outside once again at the corner of Broadway and Grand, Ghielmetti gestures toward the surrounding area. Signature plans to install antique streetlamps, plant trees along the wide sidewalks and tulips in the center divider of Broadway. The Paramount Theater, a block down Broadway, and the Fox Theater, in the process of being renovated over on Telegraph, will serve as the linchpins of a burgeoning new entertainment district. Ghielmetti envisions visitors and residents strolling in the evening on their way to dinner, followed by a show or a cocktail.

"There's good bones down here," Ghielmetti said. "You look at all the revitalized areas around the county, there's no reason why Oakland can't be part of the renaissance." As if in anticipation of the transformation, a number of restaurants, cafes, clothing stores and galleries have already opened.

"I was aware of the plans when I bought the place," said Rick Mitchell, owner of Luka's Taproom and Lounge, across the street from Broadway Grand. "There haven't been a lot of changes, but they're imminent. Here in Oakland it's good to be skeptical, but we're excited about the changes and we want to be a part of it."

So does John Eudy, executive vice president of Essex - a real estate investment trust that is putting up 238 apartments a block or so from Broadway Grand at Grand and Webster. The steel for the 10-story building, which will also contain 9,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, is already up. Begun in late 2006, the project is scheduled for completion in about a year.

"We bought into the whole revitalization idea he (Brown) was pushing, and we believe in it," said Eudy, whose firm has invested $90 million in the downtown area. "What's been happening in Oakland during the last eight years has been pretty phenomenal."

Like Ghielmetti, Eudy isn't very concerned with how the market will affect Essex's interests in Oakland.

"It may slow some of the condo development," he said, "but the rental market's only firmed up."

For Forest City Development, whose mixed-use project a few blocks away from Broadway Grand is considered by some to be the anchor of development in the Uptown area, the decision to invest in the neighborhood was largely based on logic.

"It's a transit-oriented site," said Susan Smartt, senior vice president for Forest City Residential West. "It's the centralized hub of the BART system, and the city has a positive attitude toward redevelopment."

Other factors that weighed in the decision, Smartt said, included good weather and the fact that 70,000 people work in downtown Oakland.

And then there was the intangible factor.

"There is something very unique about the ethnic diversity of downtown Oakland," Smartt said. "It's full of good spirits. The people who live in Oakland know it and love it."

Situated between 19th and 20th streets, Telegraph and San Pablo avenues, Forest City West's Uptown Project received a $40 million subsidy from the city to buy land and finance 140 below-market units. The development is a joint venture between Forest City Development and MacFarlane Partners, which are making a $187 million investment in downtown Oakland. In addition to urban infill developments in Denver, Chicago, Boston and Brooklyn, Forest City built the 800-unit Bayside Village at the San Francisco anchorage of the Bay Bridge. Forest City will also be the developer of the Public Health Services Hospital building in San Francisco's Presidio.

Altogether, there will be about 1,000 units, including 665 apartments, and 9,000 square feet of retail space on the site. A 25,000-square-foot park adjacent to the project is also planned. The first phase, which includes the park, is scheduled to open by next spring.

Smartt said the city of Oakland is intent on continuing the revitalization efforts.

"It's begun to take on a life of its own," she said. "It's happening organically - and that's good."

Oakland City Councilwoman Nancy Nadel, whose district contains the new development in the Uptown neighborhood, says it's difficult to say whether 10,000 new residents have come to the downtown area, and she believes the softened market may slow the influx.

"We are subject to the whims of the market just as every other city is," she said. "But the market will rebound. And Oakland is a city that's in the center of everything: It's a great place to develop."

The former mayor - dubbed by some at the time as "Downtown Brown" - he couldn't be more pleased by what's been happening in Oakland.

"When I became mayor," he said, "there hadn't been any significant building in downtown Oakland in decades. Now it's gone beyond my imagination."

Brown, who still has his loft on 27th Street, was excited about the grand opening, which he attended the day before, of the Whole Foods store, built on the site of a former Cadillac dealership at 27th and Harrison streets. He attributes the continued influx of business and real estate investment in the area to "private investment and a minimum of red tape," and a city that isn't afraid to invest in itself.

"You have to see development as a positive factor, as an asset and not a liability," he said. "Unfortunately, there are those who have more of an affinity to poverty than prosperity."

Having completed the tour, Ghielmetti walks back across the street to Signature's sales office. Sure-footed workers methodically dismantle the scaffolding from the face of Broadway Grand. One worker picks up a plank, passes it down to the next man who, in turn, hands it off to a third man standing on a flatbed truck.

As the third man drops the plank into place, a cloud of white dust explodes into the air and, caught by the wind, is swept down Broadway.

San Frangelino Oct 26, 2007 12:08 AM

Under Construction

Found this via

The photos were taken by leporello87

100 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA
100 Grand Avenue, at the corner of Webster, will be a new high-rise addition to the Valdez section of downtown, just a few blocks from the large Uptown development. The structure will have a few terraced heights to reduce bulk, but it will include a 22-story tower and will add 238 rental units and 5,415 square feet of retail space to the emerging Uptown area. The left image below is a photo of the poster rendering hanging at the construction site, and the right picture shows the construction:

rocketman_95046 Oct 26, 2007 6:22 PM

Well it looks like more delays for a new SJ soccer stadium...

Earthquakes to play at Santa Clara U.
Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal - by Lindsay Riddell
Friday, October 26, 2007 - 10:37 AM PDT

The San Jose Earthquakes soccer team will play home games at Santa Clara University's Buck Shaw Stadium for the next two seasons and possibly three as efforts to gain city approval to build a new stadium continue.

"We look forward to making upgrades to Buck Shaw Stadium in order to improve the soccer experience for not only Earthquake's fans but also Santa Clara soccer fans," said Michael Crowley, president of the Earthquakes and the Oakland Athletics.

The Earthquakes played in San Jose for more than a decade at San Jose State University before being moved to Houston in 2005. Lew Wolff and other Oakland A's owners won an exemption from Major League Soccer to bring the team back for the 2008 season despite a major league rule that bars the purchase of a team without permanent facilities.

The Earthquakes announced today they will upgrade Buck Shaw Stadium, named for a former Santa Clara football coach, including adding 5,000 temporary seats and a digital portable video score board. The team will also renovate a practice field on University grounds, will expand hospitality areas and will reconfigure stadium lights for soccer.

"The upgrades to the stadium and practice field will greatly benefit our nationally recognized soccer programs as they continue to compete with the best collegiate teams in the country," said Dan Coonan, Santa Clara University director of athletics and recreation. "We look forward to a strong relationship with the Earthquakes in the future with the potential of hosting college cups and other soccer events in the South Bay."

The Earthquakes are awaiting approval on a plan to construct a new 18,000-seat stadium near the Mineta San Jose International Airport. The plan hinges on zoning changes that would allow Earthquakes owners to build homes on industrial land in the Edenvale neighborhood to finance the stadium.

The San Jose City Council will likely make a judgment on the rezoning plan at its general plan update meeting scheduled for February.

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