May 30, 2008
3400 Cesar Chavez Update: Permitted, Excavation On The Way
"Developer Seven Hills has received site permits for its 60-unit condo project at 3400 Cesar Chavez St. and will begin excavation in the next week or so, according to firm principal Thomas Rocca. The project, which anti-development forces in the Mission District attempted to block at the 11th hour, will also house a 12,000-square-foot Walgreens, an after-school center for kids and two other retailers."
∙ Cesar Chavez condo project ready to begin [San Francisco Business Times]
∙ 3400 Cesar Chavez: Approved But Opposed (By MAC) In The Mission [SocketSite]
JustQuotes: Think Seismic Upgrades (Or Lack Thereof) Not Soil
"[Mayor] Newsom said the Department of Building Inspection has mapped out the 'most vulnerable parts of San Francisco' to a violent quake. Residents might be surprised, however, that it is not the Marina but the Outer Sunset that is most vulnerable."
∙ Quake safety an ‘obligation’ [Examiner]
Proposed Piano Parcels (Including 50 First Street) On The Market
We blew it. Early last month a tipster alerted us to the fact that 50 First Street had hit the market and we briefly published the following:
According to a plugged-in tipster, 50 First Street has been put on the market with CBRE. If that location sounds familiar (the corner of First and Mission), it should. Especially if you’re starchitect Renzo Piano as that’s where a clustering of five super thin and up to 1,200-foot towers designed by Mr. Piano had been proposed to be built.
We pulled the post when we realized that 50 First was to the north of Jessie Street (we thought all of the proposed Piano development was to be to the south). But alas, 50 First is in fact one of seven parcels that David Choo had assembled for the proposed Piano project. And all seven parcels have hit the market. From J.K. Dineen this morning:
“A developer who planned to build a cluster of soaring Renzo Piano-designed towers across from the Transbay Terminal is reluctantly selling the property, one of the crown jewels of his real estate business. The [seven-parcel assemblage] could be worth as much as $140 million.”
“The sale comes at a time when the city is rezoning the Transbay district, a highrise zone around the new Transbay and terminal. Under the Planning Department's current thinking, Choo's assembled site, on the northeast corner of First and Mission, would be zoned for heights 150 to 200 feet lower than the Transbay tower itself. Thus if the Transbay tower is 1,000 feet, which is likely at this point, whoever buys the Choo parcel would be allowed to build up to 800 feet.
That is significantly lower than two of the four buildings Choo had hoped to build, 1,200-foot skyscrapers Piano had likened to bamboo shoots.”
That's likely the one-two punch for the Piano project. And apologies to our tipster, we never should have doubted you.
UPDATE: "Property is listed by Eastdil not CBRE."
∙ Prime San Francisco Transbay project on the block [Business Times]
∙ They Just Keep Getting Bigger, And Bigger, And Bigger... [SocketSite]
∙ Transit Center District Plan Workshop: Initial Ideas Tonight (4/30/08) [SocketSite]
SoMa Grand (1160 Mission) Update: Sales, Office, And Phan’s Food
According to the sales office (which has moved into the building), SoMa Grand is now 50% in contract or closed. That’s up from 40% at the beginning of February and represents roughly 25 net new contracts over the past four months.
Two new model units will be open this weekend. And work on the ground floor Charles Phan concept restaurant is “underway and slated for fall.”
May 29, 2008
Approvals Or Permits But Rather Modern Plans For 160 San Marcos
And if nothing else, it’s food for thought and fodder for conversation.
∙ Listing: 160 San Marcos Street (Lot) - $695,000 [MLS]
∙ Modern Architecture Hits The Market Up On Mullen (306 Mullen) [SocketSite]
Yes, We’re Suckers For An Interesting Interface: Trulia Snapshot
It's not as efficient as searching, but it is likely to appeal to those who are browsing and visually inclined. And what can we say, we’re suckers for an interesting interface.
∙ Trulia Snapshot: San Francisco [Trulia]
Built In 1904 (But "Reconstructed" A Century Later): 2542 Fillmore
While built in 1904, 2542 Fillmore was completely “reconstructed” in 2008. It shows (or in the case of the new “smart home” technology, it’s hidden). And if you’re itching to see it in person, the first official open house is this evening (from 4-6pm). Feel free to report.
Coming Soon: The Six Unit Summit In Noe Valley (4121 Cesar Chavez)
“The Summit in Noe Valley” (4121 Ceasar Chavez) is “coming soon” (i.e., no pricing yet).
Two two-story three-bedroom/two and one-half bath condos on the top floor, four two-bedroom/two and one-half bath condos below. Elevator access, open floor plans, Scavolini cabinetry, and Thermador appliances in the kitchens.
South facing common “outdoor retreat” (a.k.a. a deck) and big city views (or more accurately, big views of the city) for all. Pricing when we (or a tipster) can provide.
∙ The Summit In Noe Valley (4121 Cesar Chavez) [thesummitinnoe.com]
Damn That Planning Department To Hell! Oh, Wait A Minute…
You can blame bureaucracy all you want, but in the end, it's simply not the problem with bad design in San Francisco. Over 90% of all the projects in SF are "designed" by hacks. In fact, a large majority of the new buildings are not even designed by architects, but by engineers and production architects who just churn out one project after another.
The architectural world refuses to criticize itself and you'll never see an architect show up at a Planning Commission meeting and say about someone else's project, "this proposal is trash and this architect is a hack." The architectural field loves to hand out awards to the better among them, but they never lambaste their own and search within. There are too many faux-"architects" and engineers who get too much work in this town.
Planners don't design the buildings -- they can't make a bad designer design a good building. If you were in their shoes, you'd get a sense of what it's like to have 1 decent proposal come across your desk for every 99 pieces of crap, all by the same 10 firms.
And a response that made us chuckle (and offers some perspective for all):
Architects not critical of one another's work? You've got to be kidding. Hyper critical is more like it. The problem is that we have habituated to it and most of us, including the hacks, have skin like rhinoceros hide. So telling us a project is trash just doesn't have the effect it would on a normal, sane person. Besides, if our work is any good someone is guaranteed to hate it. So we might just take it as a sign of greatness.
∙ Comments: Damn All Those Untalented Architects To Hell! Oh, Wait… [SocketSite]
∙ JustQuotes: What's/Who’s To Blame For “Bad” Building Design In SF? [SocketSite]
Posted by socketadmin at 6:30 AM
Don’t Ask Us (Or Bother To Run The Numbers): 455 27th Returns
Six months ago it was on the market for $2,595,000 (and at the center of a discussion concerning Noe Valley renovations). Two months ago it closed escrow with a reported contract price of $2,550,000. And as of last week, 455 27th Street has returned to the market with a list price of $2,575,000. Don’t ask us (or bother to run the numbers).
UPDATE: From a plugged-in reader: "Owner was just transferred out of the area." It happens.
∙ Listing: 455 27th Street (3/3.5) - $2,575,000 [MLS]
∙ Two Noe Valley Renovations A Block (And A Half Million Dollars) Apart [SocketSite]
JustQuotes: Field Poll For Proposition 98 (Failing) and 99 (Close)
"A survey of 660 likely voters conducted May 17-26 found 48 percent favoring Prop. 99, with 30 percent opposed and 22 percent undecided, according to the poll results. Those supporting Prop. 98 stood at 33 percent, with 43 percent opposed and 24 percent undecided."
"The results contrast with the two surveys by the Public Policy Institute of California that showed declining support for both propositions between March and May. Those polls showed support among likely voters for Prop. 99 declining to 44 percent from 53 percent, while support for Prop. 98 fell to 30 percent from 37 percent."
"The margin of error was plus or minus 4.1 percentage points for the Field Poll and plus or minus three percentage points for the Public Policy Institute polls."
May 28, 2008
A Reader Wonders, We Respond: The Designs For 1315-27 7th Avenue
A reader wonders: "I was walking through the Inner Sunset last weekend and noticed a new building going up on 7th between Judah & Irving. Do you happen to know anything about this development?"
We respond (and we do): Where a three-story mixed-use building once stood (think Golden Gate Radiator & Body with two residential units above), a four-story building is rising (which will consist of 2,400 square feet of ground-floor commercial space with eight condos above and eleven parking spaces below). And in addition to saving the two cottages behind, another unit will be built (for a total of eleven).
From the architects of 1315-27 7th Avenue (Hamilton & Company Architecture):
We had quite a bit of fun with this 11 Unit Mixed Use /Condominium project. It’s located in an established neighborhood in the Inner Sunset in San Francisco, surrounded by buildings from the early 1900’s to the late 1930’s.
We’ve reflected some of that history by dividing the front building into two unequal masses. The left side is designed as a traditional Tudor Revival, which has an arched gallery leading back to a landscaped courtyard and three cottages at the rear. The right side is an updated Art Deco “riff” on the Tudor, which repeats the broad Tudor arch in a stylized fashion across the base of the building. Above the arched base are three dramatic copper bays across the façade, which create a colorful focal point within the streetscape.
The condos will range in size from one to three bedrooms and according to the architect's website, the development is "[s]cheduled for completion in Summer 2008" (which looks to be a little aggressive).
∙ 1315-27 7th Avenue [Hamilton & Company Architecture]
A Refresher In Sales Office Semantics (And Esprit Occupancy Update)
A week ago we reported roughly 25% of the units at Homes at Esprit Park were in contract. Today, a few readers turned tipsters are surprised to receive an email noting “40% Sold at Home on Esprit Park Phase 1!” The key words: Phase 1.
Keep in mind that the sales office opened with an “inaugural release” of only half (70) of the 142 condos. And while not confirmed, we have a feeling that Phase 1 might be one and the same (or at least relatively close in the count).
Also noted: “Delivering August '08.”
Damn All Those Untalented Architects To Hell! Oh, Wait A Minute…
As a plugged-in reader wrote four months ago:
The planning code is a nightmare to navigate. The so called "design guidelines" are tools used arbitrarily by any of the planners to approve or disapprove a design. They are already speculating about adding Historic Districts throughout neighborhoods such as Noe Valley and Glen Park, making it virtually impossible to add on or do any exterior renovations to any house older than 50 years. Much of the planning department is provincial, narrow minded and bureaucratic beyond reason.
As Lili Weigert writes last weekend:
“As San Francisco takes an increasingly conservative approach to historic preservation, rejected [remodeling] proposals are piling up in the City Planning office. The delays have hurt homeowners, architects and the building industry. Today most everyone - even some preservationists - has started to question the city's permit process and what needs to change.”
“Michael Antonini, president of the San Francisco Planning Commission, agrees that things need to change. "There were a lot of people in the preservation community in the past who thought things were too liberal," he said, "but the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Now, you have to know whether some kind of historic event happened in your house, and if your house is potentially historic, you have to do a survey of your neighborhood.
"Even if your house isn't historically significant, you need to know whether the neighborhood is. All our regulations are making it really unappealing for property owners to fix up their buildings."
Antonini, who along with the other commissioners has the final say on controversial or complicated permit applications, also agrees that the current interpretation of the preservation standards is resulting in subpar architecture.”
As we write today: No kidding. And once again, perhaps it's (past) time to move forward rather than remain stuck in the past.
∙ JustQuotes: What's/Who’s To Blame For “Bad” Building Design In SF? [SocketSite]
∙ S.F.'s difficult path to home renovation [SFGate]
Noise, Dust, Or Design In Noe Valley? Or Could It Be Something Else?
While 326 Valley will most likely benefit from the past tense construction next door, the rather beautiful 1217 Dolores might be suffering a bit from the future tense construction next to it (the list price was recently reduced $225,000 or 8.7%). From our tipster:
[1217 Dolores] was well received but no offers….All agree the house is great but the construction scheduled for the lot next door has scared away potential buyers. Surprising it hasn’t sold.
So is it noise, dust, or neighboring design? Who’s got the drawings? And is it possible that the surprise could actually be symptomatic of something else?
UPDATE: Still no drawings, but from a plugged-in reader: "I did some research on the next door development. It appears that someone (not me...) bought 1225 Dolors for $1.05M in Aug '06 and filed two permits: one to demolish the garage, which was approved and another one to erect 4 story building with 3 condos. The 2nd permit is still pending approval."
∙ Listing: 1217 Dolores (5/3.5) - $2,375,000 [1217dolores.com] [MLS]
∙ A Neighbor Notices Another Noe Valley Apple On The Tree: 326 Valley [SocketSite]
May 27, 2008
A Neighbor Notices Another Noe Valley Apple On The Tree: 326 Valley
From a plugged-in tipster (who earns our accolades for thoroughness):
The stagers just left. Looks like my neighbors across the street are moving. 326 Valley St. Asking $1.495M.
Sales history: 6/21/2005 ($1,400,000); 11/02/2001 ($995,000); 1/16/1997 ($460,000); 7/24/1996 ($270,000) - contractor bought and put house through major renovations - added master suite (600 sq. ft.) on ground floor.
Improvements since 1997: upgraded kitchen cabinets and counters, better landscaping in the rear, but nothing major/structural. Worth noting: in 2007 the property next door went from eyesore teardown to new (contextual infill) condos.
It's not a perfectly clean apple (on account of the neighborhood improvement next door), but we'll consider it one nonetheless. So...Noe Valley, single-family, remodeled, "sweet spot" price point, predictions?
And once again, anybody care to acknowledge how the “median sales price” in Noe Valley has changed since the last sale of this home? The change in value should match, right?
∙ Listing: 326 Valley (3/2) - $1,495,000 [John Roach]
Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Just The Cruise Ship Terminal Right Over
As expected, this afternoon The San Francisco Port Commission will entertain a formal request “to allow Shorenstein Properties and Farallon Capital Management to present draft plans for new offices and open space at [piers 30-32] and for a new cruise terminal at [pier 27] no later than September.”
And while the Telegraph Hill Dwellers neighborhood group opposed the development of a larger retail-office-terminal development at Piers 27-31, it appears as though they will support the development of the low-rise cruise terminal in their back yard (and the development of the more vertically inclined offices in someone else’s).
∙ Cruising (Pier 27) And Working (Piers 30-32) But Not Sporting At All [SocketSite]
∙ Plan would smooth water for cruise terminal [Examiner]
∙ Frederick Knows His Piers (A.K.A. Cruise Ships Closer To Pier 27) [SocketSite]
∙ Landmark Sarcasm Update: Hope For North Beach Pagoda Theater? [SocketSite]
Appraisal Agreement: Violating Federal Law Or Industry Interests?
"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's agreement to restrict banks from using in-house appraisal companies may violate federal law, U.S. Comptroller of the Currency John C. Dugan said in a letter to the companies' supervisor."
"The agreement and new appraisal code 'violate or conflict with federal law in fundamental respects' and should be withdrawn, Dugan said in a letter to Ofheo Director James Lockhart. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates national banks, has 'substantial concerns about the unintended adverse consequences' on U.S. banks, he said.
The OCC is joining mortgage and appraisal industry groups and the Office of Thrift Supervision in criticizing the deal, which was intended by Cuomo and Ofheo to improve accuracy in home valuations by separating them from the lenders making the loans.”
∙ Fannie, Freddie Appraisal Agreement May Violate Law [Bloomberg]
∙ Fannie And Freddie
Forced Aim To Help Fix Appraisal Fraud [SocketSite]
Property Listing Line Of The Day (And An All Too Common Pet Peeve)
An excerpt from the listing for 1778 Page: “…for the discerning buyer who doesn't want to pay for the cheesy remodel done by someone else…”
∙ Listing: 1778 Page Street (4/1) - $695,000 (TIC) [MLS]
March S&P/Case-Shiller: San Francisco MSA Declines, Top Tier Flat
According to the March 2008 S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index (pdf) , single-family home prices in the San Francisco MSA fell 3.5% from February '08 to March ’08 and are down 20.2% year-over-year. For the broader 10-City composite (CSXR), year-over-year price growth is down 15.3% (having fallen 2.2% from February).
The decline in the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index – which covers all nine U.S. census divisions – reached well into double digits, recording a 14.1% decline in the 1st quarter of 2008 versus the 1st quarter of 2007, the largest in the series 20-year history. As a comparison, during the 1990-91 housing recession the annual rate bottomed at -2.8%. The 10-City and 20-City Composites also set new records, with annual declines of -15.3% and -14.4%, respectively.
Prices fell across the bottom two price tiers for the San Francisco MSA, while the top tier remained unchanged on a month-over-month basis but declined 2.0% year-over-year.
The bottom third (under $489,431 at the time of acquisition) fell 5.3% from February to March (down 34.7% YOY); the middle third fell 4.5% from February to March (down 23.9% YOY); and the top third (over $734,115 at the time of acquisition) fell 0.04% from February to March (down 8.0% YOY).
And according to the Index, home values for the bottom third of the market in the San Francisco MSA have returned to June 2003 levels, the middle third to March 2004 levels, and the top third is holding at March 2005 levels.
The standard SocketSite S&P/Case-Shiller footnote: The HPI only tracks single-family homes (not condominiums which represent half the transactions in San Francisco), is imperfect in factoring out changes in property values due to improvements versus actual market appreciation (although they try their best), and includes San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, and Alameda in the "San Francisco" index (i.e., the greater MSA).