Despite all the footnotes, disclaimers, and “approximates,” perhaps it was just a matter of time (from the Chronicle):

The builders, owners, operators and homeowners association of a luxury condominium complex across from AT&T Park have been sued for allegedly misrepresenting the size of the units in two buildings and for not repairing a series of defects.
The class-action lawsuit was filed Friday against virtually everyone associated with the Beacon, a 595-unit complex on 250 and 260 King St., in San Francisco’s Mission Bay.
The suit, on behalf of the 450 residents, claims the square footage of many units does not match what was advertised to buyers. Representatives of the complex denied the allegation, saying all square footages were clearly listed as approximations.

Keep in mind that most banks don’t like lending money for properties that are in litigation, so this will likely exacerbate the problems of anyone trying to sell (or buy) a unit in the Beacon (and negatively impact prices). Let’s just hope we shouldn’t be filing this under “trends.”
Update: We’d really like to hear from more of the current owners/residents of the Beacon, so if you know of any, please consider forwarding this along.
Luxury condo complex spawns lawsuit [SFGate]
Below Developer Pricing At The Beacon [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Curious

    Interesting update… Has anyone heard about other lawsuits on large condo projects around town? I heard a rumour of a lawsuit at 88 King. Any truth to that?

  2. Posted by FedUp

    It is about time that folks stopped putting up with lies and misrepresenations peddled by realtors and developers. Of course there is no excuse for buyers having fallen for all the pre-sales hype, but inflating floor area with shared common areas is the oldest trick in the book. How many times have you seen a MLS listing by some unscrupulous realtor touting a SFH including phantom rooms and square footage which do not match tax / 3R records, without specifically mentioning that the space is unwarranted?

  3. Posted by RinconFan

    Wasn’t The Beacon a rental complex before converting to condos?? If that’s the case, I don’t see how the developer could get the square footage wrong! I mean, all they have to do is get tape measure and measure the darn rooms after the renters moved out!
    Usually, developers use the term “approximate sq ft” on new construction where the units haven’t been built out (i.e. OneRincon, Infinity). Now I’m thinking of buying at the Infinity or One Rincon. I wonder if their square footage is correct??

  4. Posted by Christopher

    I viewed units at The Essex on Lake Merritt when it converted from apartments to condos, and it was nearly the identical situation. First, just as with the Beacon, the units were built to be condos but rented out before sold (as opposed to an actual conversion). Second, the sales team at The Essex was very tight-lipped when asked about square footage. I finally told the sales agent I wouldn’t consider purchasing unless I had that information first. Square footage is a part of the development pricing formula, so it’s known long before construction even begins. No one has to wait until the building is completed to do measuring. My condo in SF has two square footages (5 square feet difference) that are published in different places. I could only see the people at the Beacon caring if they are reselling, and the appraiser comes in and measures much smaller dimensions than the owners had believed them to be.

  5. Posted by Damion

    There is a similar lawsuit in southern California. I posted about it here:
    http://sfcondo.org/2006/08/02/size-matters/
    The SoCal lawsuit was also a conversion. Is it a problem that pertains primarily to conversions for some reason? I just don’t see a good excuse for it. There’s no need to rely on people going into a unit and measuring it themselves (with everyone getting different measurements based on the technique they use) — SOMEONE built the crazy thing and must know how much it was when they built it. Don’t they keep the blueprints around? Geez.

  6. Posted by SocketSite

    Once again, the irony is that it’s entirely possible that the cloud (and cost) of this litigation will reduce property values for resellers in the Beacon by more than the value of any potential settlement (especially after legal fees). Nobody likes to see HOA reserves drained to cover legal fees and damages instead of actual upkeep and maintenance.

  7. Posted by GetMeOutOfHere

    Forget square footage calculations – an even bigger problem with The Beacon is excessive heat and the lack of adequate ventilation / air conditioning. Those “dramatic floor to ceiling windows”? On sunny days they turn many of these units into convection ovens.
    On numerous occasions the digital thermometer in my living room window has registered in excess of 130 degrees. Want some fresh air? Sorry – only one small window pane opens, and just 4 ½ inches (!) at that.
    One of the Centurion partners (who must have made an absolute fortune on this deal told me that the developers specified the wrong type of window glass for this area in an effort to control construction cost over-runs.
    The Beacon’s solution to the unbearable heat? Install some cheap reflective film, put a disclaimer in the sales documents, and send out a memo to residents telling them they should buy “black out” drapes and install room air conditioners.
    $900 / square foot for a crackerbox in a 600 unit apartment-style complex…I should have bought two.

  8. Posted by duhhh

    It’s called TURN ON YOUR AC Getmeoutofhere!
    unless, they don’t have none?
    in which case, why buy in the first place???

  9. Posted by Getmeoutofhere

    duhhh –
    Or is it “duhhhmmmbb”?
    No, genius, the Beacon units are not air conditioned – although the offices on the lobby level are always nice and cool.
    Why buy here? Any possibility the sales people might have downplayed any concerns about the heat / ventilation problems?

  10. Posted by jimmy

    developers usually measure square footage from exteror wall to exterior wall. The area of a room shrinks when measuring from a “finished” room since it subtracts the siding, stud wall, plywood sheathing, gypsum board, and interior baseboard. In a 25′-0″ width lot x 40′ you can lose almost 40SF.
    BTW the architect can calculate the SF of the unit with their CAD programs.

  11. Posted by Amen Corner

    I hate to sound too critical of people who’ve bought in the Beacon, but when I toured there (in March of last year, hardly the hottest time of the year) I thought the issues with lack of ventilation and cooling were pretty obvious – this was one of the reasons why I never pursued buying there. All that south-facing glass with no cooling = not a pretty picture. Additionally, at least one of those web sites that have renters’ reviews of rental complexes had many similar complaints.

  12. Posted by Notbuying

    GetMeOutOfHere is correct about the heating issue. I was thinking about purchasing a (overpriced) unit at the Beacon until I heard about the heating problem. Here’s a link to actual tennants complaints about the Beacon (formally known as Mission Bay when it was apartments).
    http://www.apartmentratings.com/rate/CA-San-Francisco-Mission-Place.html

  13. Posted by RinconFan

    Here are some reviews of the Beacon when they were rentals (called Mission Place then):
    http://www.apartmentratings.com/rate/CA-San-Francisco-Mission-Place.html
    Notice how more than half the reviewers complained of the poor circulation and stifling heat in their units? The sales team must have either not known or they did a great job of deceiving those poor buyers!

  14. Posted by joe

    I’ve seen listings for the beacon that list AC in the unit description.
    For example: http://sf.backpage.com/rentals/classifieds/ViewAd?oid=oid%3A317863&name=apartments%20for%20rent

  15. Posted by Anonymous

    None of the units at The Beacon have central air conditioning – just call the sales office. Tenants can install room A/C units, but have to get permission from the HOA to punch holes in the wall for the vents.
    Here’s a picture of a Beacon resale with what appears to be one of these A/C units in the corner:
    http://www.socketsite.com/archives/2006/08/below_developer_pricing_at_the_beacon_1.html

  16. Posted by Greg

    Oh for pities sake! San Francisco has one of the mildest climates on this continent. There is absolutely no excuse for constructing housing in this city that does not take full advantage of the wonderful weather, including fully operable windows and natural ventilation.
    I must agree that the south-facing units in the Beacon have horrendous circulation and are akin to ovens at certain times of the year. Unfortunately, this building, as designed, does not belong in SF.
    Regarding approximate sf: Unless the purchase is strictly a financial investment, isn’t the idea more about buying a residence within your price-range that best fits your needs and lifestyle, rather than reducing everything to $/sf?

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