Cubix Typical Floor Plan (Image Source: cubixsf.com)
Goodbye placeholder, hello floor plans (and a few photos) for Cubix YB (766 Harrison).
Cubix Yerba Buena: Floor Plans [cubixsf.com]
766 Harrison: Condos Indeed And A Brand New Brand (“Cubix YB”) [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by ex SF-er

    Rather uninspired. anybody know how tall the ceilings are???
    this is a place that could really use high ceilings, as it would allow you to loft the bed and play with different levels to break up the space.
    In addition, it allows you to make room for storage.
    This place is just a square room with a bathroom carveout and doesn’t even have closets or anything.
    I love the outside of this building and have to wonder why the same sort of thought wasn’t put into the interior space.
    to contrast: while in Paris I helped a friend design their studio space. it was about 25 square meters (so around 260 sq ft). but it had 11 ft ceilings. Thus we put the bathroom and the kitchen on one end, and lofted the “bedroom space” above the kitchen and bath. we put a staircase leading up to the lofted “bedroom” and the side of the staircase opened for storage.
    I doubt you could do this with this space.

  2. Posted by diemos

    What a delightful little space. Well worth $50K or so.

  3. Posted by antiHERO

    wow… just wow.

  4. Posted by mpg31337

    @diemos: Which means it’ll cost $350k? :)

  5. Posted by Anonymous

    Not a single closet – what are they thinking?

  6. Posted by dub dub

    A question for all the folks who think this is a great place for a young person “just like in Europe” (like that impresses me).
    How does that peekaboo work when you have a guest? Serious question; please serious answers.

  7. Posted by BRCGranny

    This is a joke, right? I don’t get this at all. Why would someone pay $200,000 for this crappy space? This is a place that cries out as rental space. I expect that was the original plan, but the developer has not yet heard about that housing bust.

  8. Posted by sf

    I see.. so they took one normal sized bedroom, took out the closet, added some glass partitions, and shoved in it a kitchenette, bathroom, and living room. Using this method, my home is now an 8 room studio and I am selling them for $300,000 each, I’ll be RICH!

  9. Posted by Brutus

    I’ll withhold judgment on this until I can see it in person. One of the places that I lived in for a year in Barcelona was a similar layout to this, and it worked pretty well, but as ex-SF-er mentioned, a lot depends on ceiling heights.
    The lack of closet is a good thing, IMO. Walls take up a lot of space, and a good wardrobe can be just as useful for storage space.
    The glass walls into the bathroom? Hmmm…wouldn’t have been my choice.

  10. Posted by Foolio

    Count me in the camp that finds this to be a poor use of space…rather than embracing the “small spaces” mentality, they’ve just tried to cram everything into less room.

  11. Posted by sf

    Next up: SROs with community bathrooms selling in the LOW $200ks !!

  12. Posted by fried goodness

    They could extend the bathroom wall out and install a convertible sleeper tub to free up the bedroom space for a killer walk-in closet.

  13. Posted by John

    How much would it rent for if it is in the rental market? $1200/mo?
    That will make $200K an attractive price for investment. However, “high-200K” is too much.

  14. Posted by enonymous

    try $850-1000/month rental, at best
    $1200? not a chance

  15. Posted by BRCGranny

    Based on Craig’s list, I’m guessing it would rent around $900 – 1,000/month. That would cash flow neutral if it was priced at $200,000 (and $40k down). High $200s? Not so much. . .

  16. Posted by Mole Man

    Using glass for the interior walls of the bathroom is very San Francisco. That might also be targeting sex tourists who want spaces for occasional adult play and little more. The bathrooms seem rather nicely sized and appointed in comparison to the teensy washrooms in most studios and the Book Concern building in particular.
    The kitchenettes are also one notch above minimal are should be quite functional. It would be nice if the City would allow gas appliances in studio units somehow, perhaps if there were a roll down door for the cooking area as is becoming fashionable.
    The spaces seem kind of generous to me in grand relative terms. Cites like NYC and London and Tokyo have lots of units around this size or smaller. What bugs me is the minimal access to light an air of the units that are at the corners of the interior court. Those places will be dimly lit even in the middle of the day and will tend to get dank. Somehow at this scale it seems like more care should have been taken to introduce some more light and air and the possibility of cross drafts without keeping both front and patio doors open.

  17. Posted by noearch

    These are very nice, contemporary and a fresh approach to small, urban living. From a Euro perspective, they would be well received.. Here, in rich, fat America..they are probably seen as grossly undersized. They make sense for “some people”..and they fit well, I think, in San Francisco. the design is clean, open, and logical.
    You don’t need built-in closets. Ikea has many systems that would fit this living space very well. I would buy one of these, as my urban pied-a-terre.

  18. Posted by Satchel

    If this would only rent for at most $1K, the value of a crappy little box like this should be no higher than $100K, and it shouldn’t be attractive to investors at anything more (except perhaps for some who might be able to use the losses after depreciation, HOA and interest/prop tax to offset profits elsewhere in the active re portfolio, in which case maybe $125K at most.
    We still have a LONG way to go, if people think this is a sensible “investment” at $200K!

  19. Posted by ex SF-er

    I think it’s funny that you speak of “rich fat America” in one breath, and in a second speak of your pied-a-terre.
    I can hardly think of anything more decadent or fat than to have a pied-a-terre. I hardly call a pied-a-terre “small urban living” since it presupposes that you have a second domicile somewhere.
    that said, I agree with your assessment that Americans are Fat and materialistic… and also with your point that these units will interest some parties. not sure if they’ll entice anybody at this price… but who knows.

  20. Posted by ex SF-er

    reading my comment, it comes off with a different tone than intended. it should be read more as humorous or playful-teasing, and not scathing.

  21. Posted by kthnxybe

    We live in 850 square feet with a family of five. So I am often defending the “European mentality” about small spaces.
    But this thing – not so much. Foolio and Ex-Sf’er have it absolutely right – this is just not a small-spaces friendly layout.
    Were I single, I’d much rather invest in something else and rent somewhere with a seperate kitchen and dressing area – you know, like in a real studio apartment.

  22. Posted by BRCGranny

    Noearch,
    I don’t think there is anything wrong with this places as living spaces. Before I had a kid, I was very interested in this type of space. This is perfect for a collage student, or a childless couple. They are great looking studio apartments.
    However, as condos, they make no sense. Too damned expensive and they will be impossible to get rid of in the future. I can’t see a person who has $60k lying around using that as a down payment on a studio apartment.

  23. Posted by Brutus

    We still have a LONG way to go, if people think this is a sensible “investment” at $200K!
    I’ll be happy when we can get back to a time when a condo is viewed primarily as a, you know, place to live, rather than an investment – by anyone other than the builder.

  24. Posted by John

    There is nothing under $1000 in SOMA based on craigslist. Even Sunset studio/1BR in-law’s are in 800 to 900 range.
    I am guessing $1000 to $1200 range for rental for this.
    My cousin used to rent a little studio like this (with fold-down bed from the closet) for $400, in Inland Empire, (SoCal), in 1992. It actually works pretty well. Less room, less to clean. Great for singles.
    Come on, think about the lifestyle when you were single – the kitchen is rarely used. Pretty much one bedroom is enough, and the last thing you want to do is to clean.
    Still, “high-200K” is too high, we can agree with that.

  25. Posted by ex SF-er

    wow kthnxybe!
    Can I move in with you!!!! :)

  26. Posted by Foolio

    @noearch:
    I disagree with your comment, as I do not think that people’s negative reactions to these are based on some “fat America” prejudice. In fact, it sounds like many of us (including myself) have spent time living quite comfortably (and happily) in “small spaces” in Europe and elsewhere.
    However, I just do not think these units fit the bill for happy, European-style living. I lived in a small efficiency in Europe for a few years (before IKEA), and one of the most refreshing things about it was how different the space was, in terms of usage. Looking at the plan for this building, it strikes me as essentially the same usage pattern as a larger place, except in smaller zones. There’s the “dining zone” and the “coffee table/couch” zone, etc.
    Rather than rethink some of these American conventions (do you *really* need a coffee table or a “breakfast nook”?) it feels like these designers simply crammed everything in.
    Oh, and while you’re right that a trip to IKEA may make sense for the closet situation, I personally think it’s a bit thrifty to ask someone to pay what these folks are asking and not provide some nice, well-designed built-ins that complement the rest of the unit. (Personally, I would have preferred to see some low-slung built-ins on the far wall, rather than the suggested tall IKEA wardrobe that will make this space feel even more cramped.)

  27. Posted by Mole Man

    Similar wee units in the Book Concern building rented for around $1200 a month or so and they also sold fast because it was cheap and lots of people just want a place, any place. This area is nice for South of Market and depending on your needs is likely nicer than the Tenderloin. Criticism is all well and good, but the market is much more forgiving, at least so far.

  28. Posted by San FronziScheme

    Does this thing have wheels?
    This is the perfect abode for a Care-not-cash recipient.

  29. Posted by coffeegrind

    My prediction is that these condos will do well with the unattached 20-something set. Thousands of “baby” professionals (under 30) are living in the city in crammed roommate situations that are, believe it or not, much more constrictive (and certainly less private) than these spaces. Many fresh out-of-college types come to SF to enjoy city life (and night life), not slick kitchens and well-appointed bedroom sets. With rents increasing across the city, these condos could be an attractive entry-level housing option. All they need is a little down-payment help from back home. But that won’t be a huge problem because every parent knows that “owning is better than throwing your money away on rent.”

  30. Posted by noearch

    I agree with some of your comments, some I dont. My rich, fat,American comment is essentially about our need for bigger and bigger houses; the McMansion attitude. But many of us “urbanistas” understand and appreciate a simpler and smaller approach to our living spaces. That’s all I’m saying. these units will fit well for some people. It’s really like owning your own fully functional hotel suite. this doesnt replace a home for a family, or even perhaps a couple.
    Whether one also has a second home somewhere else, or not, seems to me to be irrelevant.
    I’m referring to the spaces as appropriate, compact, efficient and livable…for some buyers.
    I like these very much.

  31. Posted by John

    Oh, by the way, right now a cousin of mine (just remembered this) rent a studio in San Jose for $1300. It is a “historical building” which is in so-so condition. The owner divided the building into a dozen studios and has no problem renting them. I believe most tanents are single professionals.
    If you think this will rent for under $1200, you are dreaming. Now, I am thinking about $1400/month.
    Foolio, it is just an empty space. You can design it whatever way you want. Nobody forces you to have a dining area…actually, I don’t see an dining area in this floor plan, do you?

  32. Posted by Zig

    Design aside and pricing aside I agree with coffeegrind that small spaces like this should should have a market
    I don’t think people realize how weird the master tenant thing gets in SF

  33. Posted by Michael

    I think if one added a wall of built-ins with a murphy bed on the couch wall then it’d be a lot more liveable.

  34. Posted by Foolio

    @John: True, within certain limits. The “dining space” is easy to miss; it’s just next to the kitchenette.
    @Michael:
    I agree. I’d also “reclaim” the outdoor space (assuming working windows) and put some built-ins below the windows on that wall. I also *hate* the location of the kitchenette (right by the door, right across from the toilet), but I don’t know if there’s a good fix to that.

  35. Posted by San FronziScheme

    One question: where’s the wall for the TV? Across from the couch, and right where the breakfast nook is located? Bad bad bad.
    I tried different configurations and couldn’t get anything really working.
    They should have put the kitchenette against the bathroom wall. That would have freed up the entrance plus 2 big walls.
    Any suggestions?

  36. Posted by BedHead

    My cubicle is larger than this? Where does the bed go?

  37. Posted by kthnxybe

    @ex-SFer: Sure. We could put another bunk bed in the boy’s room, or perhaps you can sleep in the bathtub. ;-)

  38. Posted by Foolio

    @SFS: Absolutely agree that the kitchenette should have been on the far wall, but that’s so obvious that there must have been an architectural/cost reason not to do so.

  39. Posted by dub dub

    @Fonzi — Europeans don’t have t.v.’s ;)
    Plus a young hipster goes out so much you don’t have time for tv!11! Just don’t meet anyone you want to bring home!
    Speaking of TV, it reminds me of the place in Extra’s that Andy Millman’s friend had to rent when she stopped being an extra, but that place had a murphy bed, and seemed affordable (and larger) ;)
    In that european (-ish) TV show, btw, it was viewed as a *BAD THING* to live like that.

  40. Posted by John

    Foolio, that’s just an area which can fit a little table and chair. Nobody forces you to use for dining. I can be used for your desk, TV, or dining.
    This is what I would do
    Wall of closets, with folding-down bed.
    Projector on the ceilling, project onto the opposite wall – the space next to the frig. That area is perfect for TV.
    Desk in the corner.
    Very livable for singles.
    Another option is to put the bed where the “dining table” is. Then the opposite wall is open.
    Another option is to install a 120″ projector screen, it comes down to cover the dining zone and half of the kitchen. Imaging how the girls will be impressed.

  41. Posted by garrett

    i’m surprised nobody mentioned the fact that a good portion of these units look directly at the freeway approach to the bay bridge (sorry, maybe somebody did and i missed it). besides a lack of space, you get the constant “buzz” of traffic and soot on your window. lovely.

  42. Posted by Conifer

    The greatest risk here is that the Planning Commission will hear about these wonderful homes. As you know at least three of the commissioners believe that their role is to decide how much space a person “needs” not how much they want or can afford. (“From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.”) They then may mandate that all new construction look like this, in order to increase the amount of “affordable” housing.

  43. Posted by dub dub

    @John — the girls will be laughing, but not because they are impressed ;)
    @garret — re the freeways: I’m sure this is very common in Europe ;)
    Seriously, I *really* want to like stuff like this, but it looks very poorly executed (except perhaps for a corporate commuter). We will see, of course.

  44. Posted by BRCGranny

    They could have saved space by losing the bath tub and putting in a shower stall. (of my 20 years renting in sf, 14 have been spent without a bath tub). Lose the worthless deck. Lose the dishwasher. Now you have space for a closet or two.
    Now, as for this place being a bargin, let’s play pretend. Let’s call this place $275,000. So, $235k mortgate ($40k down) 30 years, at 7.00%. That’s about $1,560 a month. Tack on another $350 for HOA. Let’s call it an even 1,900/month.
    So, going to craig’s list, the limited numbers suggest that a studio in SOMA is around $1,200. For $1,900, I can rent a real one bedroom apartment.
    Expand my search to other parts of the city and I can rent 1 – 2 bedrooms in the haight, mission and north beach for the cost of this shitty studio.
    One last thing on roommates and SF: having been a roommate for about 10 years, I have to say that lots of folks like that situation. You meet a lot of new friends and you get more place then you can afford on your own. Maybe it is just me, but I still don’t get why this place is a condo (beyond developer greed, that is).
    Eric

  45. Posted by sf

    I could see this easily renting for $1200- $1300. A lot of you sure don’t know the rental market in this city very well.

  46. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Will there be a study lounge and rec room on the ground floor ? Monthly ice cream socials ? :-)
    I’m not sure why small living is considered to be “Euro style”. In almost every place in the world the middle class live in smaller spaces. About the only other country that I can think of where the middle class live in larger American sized homes is … Canada.
    We’re the anomaly, not the Europeans.

  47. Posted by pvc

    in a falling or stagnating market these numbers make no sense. Renting is a better option. Who is going to live in a space like this for the long-haul? 10, 15 years? There is definitely a market for space of this type, but not at that pricepoint, I wouldn’t think. You’re just throwing away your downpayment for no reason. 5 years ago you could argue that it was an investment, but unless you plan to camp out in this tiny space for many years to come, this is a very poor investment in today’s market.

  48. Posted by noearch

    I’m amazed at how many closet designers there are here. Everyone seems to want to re-design the entire floor plans..Guess what?
    THEY WORK!..I have no doubt they went thru many iterations and alternates in the architect’s office. The design offers as much as possible for flexible use and personal choice. The balconies, while small, are a godsend and wonderful. The glass into the bath is the perfect way to “borrow” natural light. The tub-shower can satisfy many buyers, as opposed to having just a shower. The kitchenette is in the right location for flexibility.
    The plans allow the occupant to customize them with storage units, bed, dining, etc. the way that works for them.
    I applaud the plans and design very much.

  49. Posted by RinconHill_Res

    You know that say, “We’re all just rats trying to get a piece of cheese”?….
    Well, this place is taking that saying to a whole new level. Are you kidding?

  50. Posted by Foolio

    @John: Interesting ideas, but not sure how practical a projector installation would be, for someone on a tight budget (as the potential buyers for this unit presumably would be).
    Also, the idea of a Murphy bed is great; I wish the developers had simply included it rather than impose that additional cost/effort on the purchaser.

  51. Posted by John

    @dub dub, you have never seen a projector in action, have you?
    @BRCGranny, 7%? $350 HOA? Are you out of your mind? Try 6% or 5.5% (easily obtainable, even today) and $150 HOA. If the HOA is higher than 150 for 200sqft, it is just a rip-off.
    I am not saying this place is a good deal. However, I seriously doubt it will rent for under $1200. That will make 200K a good price, “high-200″ overpriced.

  52. Posted by San FronziScheme

    We’re the anomaly, not the Europeans.
    A few ideas thrown randomly about Euros and us:
    - Europeans migrated en masse to America to get something better than what the masters of the time had deemed them suitable to have. And this means more decent living spaces among other things.
    - There is a good reason for Euros having 5-7 weeks of paid vacation a year. Otherwise urbanites would become crazy with their 250sf/person.
    - Americans do have more space, but they accept longer mortgages. 30 years instead of 15-20 years for continental europeans. Longer mortgage terms allow for more leverage. As people are more mobile in America, who cares about 15-20 or 30 years. The differences in principal paid are not that different when you consider the first 3-5 years.

  53. Posted by John

    Foolio,
    A projector can be had for under $400. The screen costs $200. You just need an old-style VCR as the TV tuner to get the signal from cable.
    Way cheaper than even a 32″ LCD.

  54. Posted by hugh

    Cubix?
    um… Shoebox.

  55. Posted by Dude

    Blech.
    For much less than $275K, I can buy a really sweet RV with more room and better amenities. And location/noise/crime would never be an issue because I could park it wherever I wanted.

  56. Posted by Brutus

    ^^^Yes, or you could buy a McMansion outside Dallas. What’s your point? Neither one of those options are comparable to this place. Now…if you could park the RV anywhere in SOMA…

  57. Posted by Michael

    You could park it in Potrero Hill – there are already a bunch of RVs there (annoyingly so).

  58. Posted by noearch

    don’t you dare park that RV near my house in Noe. You’ll find yourself with 4 flat tires and a snarky note on your windshield..:-)
    they are complete eyesores in a neighborhood.

  59. Posted by Animo

    I’d be a little worried when the floor plans don’t have measurements or a scale.
    One alternative would be to layout the space NYC tenement-style — enclose the toilet and put a clawfoot bathtub in the living area with a fold-down top. Instant spa, party cooler, and dining room table.

  60. Posted by dub dub

    Is it legal to live in an RV on the street? How is it any different (conceptually) to being homeless and sleeping on the street?

  61. Posted by Dude

    Fantastic question, dub dub. How is a luxury efficiency studio like this any different (conceptually) than living in an SRO?
    Answer: you pay $275K for the privelege of owning one, and $50/night for enduring the stigma of the other. So basically, it’s all marketing spin. But I agree that the city actually needs more housing like this, albeit in the form of apartments.

  62. Posted by sjm

    I think this place stinks and don’t give a hoot if this is the norm in Europe. We “fat Americans” are not Europeans and we have it better here to be sure. I look forward to hearing Noearch’s ongoing experience in his/her new prison cell at Cubix. How many square feet are you giving up exactly Noearch to go live in this European luxury?

  63. Posted by tipster

    I have three suggestions.
    1. Replace the light fixture with a bare light bulb – it would be more fitting with the character of the space.
    2. Change the name to something more international: “Le $300K Tenement” comes to mind.
    3. Reduce the depth of the apartments so that you could reach the fridge from the toilet, eliminate the living area and then put the television IN the bathroom: what every fat American dreams of. Sit there all day and never leave.

  64. Posted by Anonymous

    In my opinion, this is what happens when you let real estate developers and agents get any control of the design of a city. The same people who are responsible for creating vinyl-sided McMansion crapboxes in the outer ring of suburbs now give you this, this. . . vertical trailer park.
    However, that may be a little too harsh.
    Compared to a bus locker at Transbay terminal, these units are spacious!

  65. Posted by redseca2

    Seems to be modeled after this place:
    http://www.carniola.org/2007/03/austrias-five-star-prison.htm
    But without all the nice common areas.

  66. Posted by JC

    People complain about SF not having enough affordable housing. Now there are attractive units with high-end finishes coming on the market. So affordable housing is coming for sale in the heart of SOMA, close to downtown, and freeways for commuting and most of you are posting comments about the size. SF is full of complainers…very rarely satisfied!
    BTW-there are similar sized units that have sold in the low-mid 300′s at the Lamnourne, Symphony Towers, & 901 Bush.
    Apparently actual home buyers are finding use for efficient urban living.

  67. Posted by San FronziScheme

    The shower and sink could be merged into a “shink” or “sower”. Add a few steps in the kitchen/bathroom and a lever to control if the water goes up or down.
    Seriously, I have seen this for real…

  68. Posted by noearch

    I do think that sjm misses the point entirely..no one said this is the “norm” for Europeans..however, as a general rule, they do live in more compact, and yes, efficient, spaces than we do here in the US. Whether we have it better here is debatable on many levels, and worth another discussion.
    In general, we are a fat, greedy nation, and we (not all of us) believe that a bigger house is a “better” house, and a bigger house speaks about our place in society and our success. I don’t subscribe to that, personally. We San Franciscans pride ourselves on our dense, walkable city..and our compact houses on 25′ wide lots.
    Again, I think these compact dwelling units do serve a certain type of population. The density is appropriate for an urban center such as SF..and these would fit well in London or Paris, and probably sell quickly.
    Many people describe San Francisco as the most “European” of any american city. I like that.

  69. Posted by etslee

    I predict these will be dorms for the Art Academy..

  70. Posted by Anonymous

    In my hunble opinion, only a greedy real estate agent would argue that getting less space for more money is a step forward, or that it’s sophisticated urban living–and if that sales pitch doesn’t work, then argue that it’s how those chic Europeans do it. At least a developer might level with you and say, yes, we try to milk the most profit per square foot out of anything we build.
    And what about this proximity to “freeways for commuting” that you mention? As I understand it, there’s just 5 parking spots for the entire complex, (according to SocketSite’s previous link to this place). What are the residents supposed to do with those freeways–go outside and watch the traffic?

  71. Posted by San FronziScheme

    I predict these will be dorms for the Art Academy..
    I’d put architecture students in these. That’ll teach them not to reproduce the errors of the Euros.

  72. Posted by John

    So much negativities here.
    No matter what your personal preference is, there is a market for studios like that. I already told you guys that the rent is like $1300 in SJ.
    If a developer builds something nobody want to live in, they nobody will rent and nobody will buy.
    I can only say I bet people will rent it for $1200 or higher. I don’t know if people will buy it for 275K, but nothing surprises me anymore with SF RE market.
    I agree the floor plan should have scale. However, from the look for the sofa, the whole area looks like 10×20.
    If you think that is small, you should travel to Japan. I had the pleasure to stay at a hotel (and it is not even a cheap one) with room less than 100sqft…..
    I am pretty sure if a developer builds an apartment building with 100sqft rooms, and rent each for $600/mo, they would have no problems filling them up.

  73. Posted by urban_angst

    You’re all missing the true opportunity.
    The Bay Bridge Inn at 6th and Harrison (http://www.expedia.com/pub/agent.dll/qscr=dspv/htid=1345121/crti=4/hotel-pictures) gets $109 a night for their 1-1/2 star rooms. You can easily set this up as a VRBO and get at least that. Rent this out for 20 days a month and you’ll have it paid off in 10 years. It becomes your cash cow after that.

  74. Posted by San FronziScheme

    John,
    Sure you’ll find takers at 600/month for 100sf. But we’ve all seen what happens to cities that respond to high demand with senseless architecture. Think Paris November 2005 and the riots.
    This attitude reminds me of a city in France. They built a humonguous building on the outskirts of town in the late 50s. The first generation was the up-and-coming middle class. Young couples, with kids. They all escaped their crowded appartments after 10 years to live in houses. They were replaced by welfare recipients who seldom paid with their own money, and their kids would scare away the middle class. It became a slum before 1980 and it took more than 20 years to clean it up somehow and get investors interested.
    Think long term. Less is not more.

  75. Posted by noearch

    Well, I for one am not negative on these units. This is reality for a certain segment of the market, and it works. period.
    I’m amazed at the comments that are threatened by the long established living standards by most Europeans and the Japanese. Guess what people? We don’t have the “standard” for living on this planet. Others have found ways to live a bit more efficiently, and still enjoy a high quality of life.
    sounds to me like there are some “fat americans” among the readers here.

  76. Posted by dub dub

    I think a shared kitchen and/or bathroom situation (more space per room) might make sense. Condo fees pay for a weekly/twice-weekly kitchen bathroom cleaning.
    It would closely resemble a shared house situation while avoiding “master tenant” issues (I’d never heard that phrase before, and it’s a good one).
    *That* would be innovative housing, not this insult, which is a very cynical take on small living if you ask me.
    Okay, that’s it for me on this thread :)

  77. Posted by San FronziScheme

    Of course we don’t have the “standard”. We have a standard that works with the country. We shouldn’t try to cheapen it or make experiments with people.
    Le Corbusier did experiments thanks to a pseudo-marxist political environment. And his several “cite radieuse” experiments ended as slums in less than a generation (I saw it firsthand in 1984). It recovered since, thanks to a European RE bubble.
    Those are people you are dealing with, not plastic figurines that you glue on a scale model.

  78. Posted by John

    @San FronziScheme
    Your standard doesn’t mean everyone has to live that way.
    There is ALREADY a demand for this kind of units. Nothing Marcist about that.

  79. Posted by viewlover

    It is a small space, but the bathroom at least feels large and not as cramped as others I’ve seen. Not sure if there is room for a refrigerator that can actually hold something in it. Probably OK for some people.
    Just spent a few days in a studio in NYC and small living spaces can be smaller and more expensive than this place. A kitchenette can be two stove eyes built in next to a small sink and a microwave and cabinets above and small portable fridge below. The entire kitchen probably 8 feet tall by 3 feet wide. Toilet opposite the shower, a space 3 feet wide by maybe another 8 feet long.
    Aside from bruising knees from bumping into everything, small spaces can be useable. Long term, wow, that would take some serious adjusting, probably would be incredibly depressing though.
    I also don’t understand why there is always a need to compare SF to London Paris, Europe etc., as a means to justify how we get screwed for real estate in this City. There is no comparision, the density levels are no where near most european capital cities, and we are not thousands of years old where the infracstructure is fixed. Look at the density of the western half of the City, its’ suburbia almost. No need to settle for so small and so expensive in my opinion. This isn’t Europe or Japan.

  80. Posted by noearch

    wow: amazing how many people here can’t just see this housing type as a VIABLE ALTERNATIVE to other kinds of urban infill.
    sorry, Fronzi, but you come across as pretty narrow minded..you seem to say that “our standard” is supposed to be THE standard for the planet.
    diversity, as we well know in this City, is an essential part of how we live.

  81. Posted by enonymous

    absolutely it is an alternative
    but at nearly 300k or over $1000/month in rent, this alternative is an undesirable one
    IF SF had the density of other cities (like Tokyo) then yes, I could see going this small.
    But SF is different ( and we like that right?), as its real estate.
    I think there is a market for these, but as a renter I wouldn’t pay a dime over $1000/mo right now, and as a buyer no more than 225 k for a midlevel unit.
    There is a market for everything, just as everything (everyone?) has a price.

  82. Posted by Dude

    I have nothing against this type of housing. The city definitely needs more housing, of all types, including efficiency units. I just think it’s a terrible value proposition to purchase studios at these price levels, that’s all.
    And for the record, I’m not fat….it’s a glandular disorder.

  83. Posted by San FronziScheme

    noearch,
    not what I said. I said we did not have THE standard, but OUR standard.
    And diversity works when you mix people, not when you put them into cages.
    From my long long experience with the French slums, what I noticed:
    - The more density, the less people want to meet their neighbors. Your neighbors are the ones preventing you from having a decent life.
    - A small place quickly becomes a dirty place. How do you really clean a place when there’s stuff everywhere. There will always be places you cannot clean. And good luck on the ventilation for the bathroom and the kitchen. I have never seen a small place that managed to solve the problem of ventilation.
    - Humans were not made to live in cubicles (wink wink for Office Space afficionados) or shoeboxes. Space DOES matter for your sanity. And this from someone who has owned 10 small-ish places and lived in 5 or so. They were great investments, sure, but don’t give me the “narrow minded” line, I’ve been around and back. I’ve seen cause and effect, and I just say that not everything European is good. Universal Health Care – Good. Concrete shoeboxes – Bad.

  84. Posted by Sonya

    I live in a studio and have a “library” murphy bed ( http://www.murphybedsdirect.com/library.htm )that would work really well in the space if the ceilings are high enough. The two outside shelf sections are really deep to accommodate the bed when it’s folded up. With a few nice bins or chests you could hide most of your wardrobe in plain sight. The space is fine for someone who wants to live an uncluttered life or a fresh out of college kid, but these are a bit overpriced.

  85. Posted by John

    @San FronziScheme
    By your standard, only American are human or sane…because this kind of living is quite common in any other part of the world.
    Wow, don’t you come out as narrow minded.

  86. Posted by noearch

    @ fronzi:
    sorry, but when you decide to call these living units “cages”, you’ve pretty much made it clear where you stand..that’s cool. but, in all honesty you do seem to say that these units have NO PLACE at all in the SF housing market. that’s narrow minded.
    and so..people who live in small spaces are, by your definition going to just be slobs anyway? that’s truly laughable.
    and so..according you to, ventilation simply cannot be solved for these kitchens and baths? ah..yea, right.
    varied opinions are great here, but you might wanna temper yours with some..ah..shall we say..more open minded thoughts..I’m just saying.

  87. Posted by San Fronzischeme

    John
    I never said that
    Roll back a few hours and check out a post where I said that Europeans managed to stay sane with a lot of vacation time.
    - There is a good reason for Euros having 5-7 weeks of paid vacation a year. Otherwise urbanites would become crazy with their 250sf/person.
    Posted by: San FronziScheme at July 28, 2008 1:33 PM
    And again, I am talking only about urban areas. In the countryside, people have lots of room to spare.

  88. Posted by San FronziScheme

    Sure, noearch. There is a place for these units. Just call them what they are: bottom segment of the market.
    Try and live in one for 5 years. Come back to me with your lessons after that. Bloody architects.

  89. Posted by John

    San Fronzischeme,
    A lot of countries don’t have 5 to 7 weeks of vacation. Japan, China, most of Asia, and probably most of any other urban countries.
    By the way, do you realize that your room is no bigger than this room? The only difference is that you have more rooms for dedicated functions, instead of using one room for everything, so that “Space DOES matter for your sanity” holds no water. Your cage is no bigger. You just have more cages to move around.

  90. Posted by noearch

    of course they are the bottom segment of the real estate market..and guess what? they serve a purpose and most likely will have buyers. and yes, I think they are well designed and useful.
    but Fronzi: why the “anger” or resentment in the tone of your comments against these units and against architects?
    time to move on.

  91. Posted by arglebargel

    These studios should be *punishment* for idiots. Anyone silly enough to buy one of these deserves what they get.
    The only way to fix these things would be to gut the floors and start again.
    200k+ for a friggin room. Please. I’ve seen people living in storage rooms that cost less than this.
    They would make nice rooms for long-stay hotels.

  92. Posted by Anonymous

    The only thing missing in these studio condos is a big hamster wheel.

  93. Posted by WHY

    I don’t get it. How is Chicago with a central city density far greater than San Francisco not lowering their buyers expectations to accept one room overpriced condos because we are a “world class city” and this is how they live in Tokyo and London? With so many towers now being built there above 70 stories, why are buyers there still expecting deeded parking, two bedrooms, balconies and pools for under 500k? Meanwhile, with San Francisco having a skyline not much more interesting than Indianapolis, we are asked to to understand that we have no space left and have to begin training buyers to live like this? (And please, don’t start the density game where you pull numbers for the entire city vs. a central city area.)

  94. Posted by sjm

    I think that Noearch & John are just investors in this place and they seem to be the ones that are sensitive. Given the choice, what normal person would want less space over more? And don’t just bring up the dumb McMansion thing. Most people don’t choose that anyhow. I have a cottage house that is 900 sf that houses a family of three. Plus, the fat American thing sounds elitist. Aren’t you telling us to be accepting of what is normal in Europe? Why do you get to decide what is respectable (small places) and contemptible (damn those fat Americans)?

  95. Posted by noearch

    now let’s see..
    some people like blue. some like green.
    some like small cars. some like trucks. some like bikes.
    some like being single. some like a partner.
    some like dogs. some like cats.
    some like to walk. some take muni. some hate muni.
    some like and need large spaces. some like small spaces.
    but, I dislike anytime someone uses the word “normal”. it is one of THE most judgmental and narrow minded words in the English language.
    and no, I’m NOT an investor. I’m an architect.

  96. Posted by Brutus

    WHY,
    Why are you bringing Chicago into this? Chicago is a cheaper city than SF for a multitude of reasons – some that can be controlled (Chicago has an easier development culture, for example) and some that can’t (SF has far better weather, for example). And who’s to say that this type of development couldn’t also make sense in Chicago? I for one would love someone to build several of these in Chicago and allow me to buy a $50-75,000 place for me to stay in during visits to Chicago.
    As I said before, the price on these is too high, but every other argument about these places seems pretty juvenile. They are what they are. Let’s see what the market decides and how many more get built.

  97. Posted by hugh

    These were originally supposed to be rentals, right?
    300 square feet is claustrophobically small. I would totally rent one of those under auspices of it being temporary, but buying an uncomfortably small space seems like too much a commitment, unless it’s a starter home and you expect it to appreciate rapidly. but does anyone expect that in today’s market?
    4th/harrison isn’t manhattan. there are some things within walking distance, but it’s not like a new york apartment where everything is so close and engaging that you only go home to shower and sleep.
    these places seem fine, just not as a permanent home (probably for anyone). but everything that ever gets built here eventually sells. i just can’t see a mad rush for these places.

  98. Posted by Willow

    I like the general idea of these condos but a space this size could have done without the tub in the bathroom and the outdoor deck. Both are nice but luxuries for units on this scale. The glaring omission in my opinion is no closet space…Without actually haven’t seen the building in person I think the market will receive them positively. (It will be particularly appealing to the investor who wants to play in short term rental game…)

  99. Posted by WHY

    The weather has NOTHING to do with the high cost of housing in San Francisco and the creation of the “need” for “housing” such as this! Really Brutus!
    The greatest myth is that the cost of housing in San Francisco is driven by the fact that everyone wants to live here. Sure some people do, but many do not. The reasons for the high cost of housing have more to do with issues such as Nimby groups fighting change, lack of new housing construction, rent control, and most of all, the Easy-Credit driven speculative housing bubble. Weather, good coffee, and “cute” Victorians with views of Alcatraz are not enough to create overpriced cubicles. These people pods are the sad result of the failure of San Francisco as a “city” to provide opportunity for change and growth, and instead to become an overpriced historic urban attraction.
    Brutus, Chicago is brought up not to get you to respond, but because it is America’s number 1 urban turn-around success story, that does not need to tell itself that it is “world class”.

  100. Posted by RL

    Just love the suicide porch. Just big eneough to jump off of when you finally figure out what your paying for this euro shoebox.

  101. Posted by dissent

    I like these, so there.
    I think people are all snark because they know what these units mean. We’re going to have to settle for less. The era of cheap’n’stupid money is over.
    No more hatching your downpayment through multiple flips and house inflation. Now you have to stew in one of these for 15 years.
    (Yikes.)

  102. Posted by John

    @sjm,
    So, if anyone say anything good about anything, he has to be an investor?
    Geez, SocketSite must have a lot of investors then.
    Come on, it is not on sale yet. To tell the truth, if it is $200K, I might be interested in being an investor. I have spare cash to put 20% down and the rent will cover the cost. However, at “high-200″, that’s too high.
    The problem is, they “start” at “high-200″, that means the worst units are that price (facing freeway, lower floors), so I am priced out already.
    And noearch and I were talking about different people have different tastes. If you can read more into that, you should seriously consider reading more WSJ, because you can probably figure out who’s investing in what from between the lines in all those articles and make a killing.
    Actually, if you really have that skill, I will invest in you.
    @hugh
    I doubt they are even 300sqft. Probably 250, even 200. Nobody would buy it for perm living.

  103. Posted by tjg

    i’d rather have 3 of these $85k each:: http://modernisticproperties.com/Home_Page.html

  104. Posted by noearch

    thank you John.

  105. Posted by thamsenman

    I’d like to agree with one of the posts mentioned above. I can’t remember which one, but oh well…
    This is not Manhattan, Chicago, London, or Tokyo. If you would like to bitch and moan about how bad it is living here…please leave.
    I for one, love living here, and I find Manhattan and Chicago to both be dumpy and intolerable most of the year. I have lived in both (including Chicago for many years). Why do people move there and then instantly start complaining?
    My god, go find a hobby or get out if all you can do is find fault with things. This place (no joke) is a world better than 99% of cities in America, and you no one is putting a gun to your head to make you stay here.

  106. Posted by thamsenman

    People in this city are spoiled, plain and simple. I’d love to transplant half of you cynics to Phoenix or LA for a year. Then you’ll know what hell is.

  107. Posted by ct

    wow…it looks like those flats i crashed at while i was in japan

  108. Posted by RL

    Great. Another person pulls out the “If you don’t like it here exactly as it is right now, why don’t you leave?” line. My family is made up of European immigrants, poor southern farmers, and lower-middle class East Coast transplants that all came together in the Bay Area at some point in the past century. They sure as hell didn’t come for the supposed European ambiance or because San Francisco was “world class”, whatever that means. They came for the opportunity that this area used to represent – this is the WEST! Manifest Destiny! The Gold Rush! Haight-Ashbury! Let me turn that tired argument on you – if you don’t like change, move to Europe or wherever you really want to be and get out of the way.

  109. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    If you don’t like it, don’t live there. Sheesh.
    I grew up with seven brothers and sisters in 1200 square feet. I guess if you are used to luxury, this seems bad, but I would have been happy with it in my 20′s. College dorm rooms are smaller.

  110. Posted by thamsenman

    I don’t mind change at all, I just don’t want constant complaining. I can live with any reasonable change to the area that enhances the quality of people’s lives.
    I never said I couldn’t live with change. However, I did say that it is silly to do nothing but find fault with San Francisco. That is not a tired argument at all. You just don’t like being called extremely cynical and bitter. But if the shoe fits…
    Seriously, if you don’t like living here, you should leave. How is that a tired argument?
    There are plenty of good things to like about SF, things that set the city apart from many others in my view. How come these things never get that sort of attention by people in these forums? It’s always: It’s so bad, it’s teribble, it’ll never get better.
    Let’s have a dialogue about constructive improvements rather than harping and complaining constantly?
    I am in no way resisting change but I am resisting constant gloom and abject expressions of misery that are completely unfounded.

  111. Posted by thasmenman

    And for the record: I love living here and wouldn’t live anywhere else. Hence, I shouldn’t leave and the proposed changes I can support and live with.
    All cities change and all people in cities resist some types of change, but people do not have to be engulfed by cynicism and despair when they talk about matters of the city.
    If you don’t like something: try to change it or move. If you don’t want to do that, then find a way to live with it. What does bitching get you? It just doesn’t make any difference.

  112. Posted by LuvSF2

    And you wonder why San Francisco is no longer attracting young people? How did a 250 sq. ft. closet for living get turned into more San Francisco boosterisms? You HAVE to accept this type of living because you get the “greatest place on earth” in your backyard. There are many who have literally bought into the myth that because we like living here, and it is beautiful, it must therefore be horribly expensive. Lack of housing construction is the main reason for high ownership costs, while thanks to rent control, older long time residents pay low rents while young people are not likely to move here for overpriced studios. What you are going to find the more you travel around the country is that many cities now have San Franciscos within them. These neighborhoods have just as many skinny jean hipsters sipping coffee, reading Mishima, dining on slow food, and creating their own because it is cheaper than competing with a bunch of 50 year olds who still rent and try to recreate their youth.

  113. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    is there any word on HOAs for these starting in the high 200′s studios?
    I think it’s been pointed out that the problem isn’t the size of the units but the price. The expectation of spending in excess of 1k per square foot plus another 200-300 (just a guess on my part) on HOAs doesn’t really make these units attractive to the very people they seem to be built for, young professionals looking for a “starter” place instead of a rental.
    While similar units might cost 1000-1300 to rent the cost of the mortgage, HOAs, maintenance, and taxes coupled with flat or declining RE prices (especially at the low end of the market) makes these units pretty unattractive (IMHO)

  114. Posted by Anonymous

    There are no closets in the unit because the entire unit is a closet.

  115. Posted by J

    The rumored price point makes little sense to me. But that’s personal preference. Also, I don’t understand the use of “high end” finishes. I almost feel that is an oxymoron considering you’re choosing a place with such little square feet. I wouldn’t expect, nor want, “high end” finishes more so than functional, working finishes coupled with efficient floor plan.
    That murphybed posted up there is pretty damn cool though.

  116. Posted by Michael

    ^The high end finishes don’t even look at that great. The drawers in the bathroom photo look crooked.

  117. Posted by michiko

    luvsf2 @4:43 a.m.,
    Reading Mishima … Is he an icon for the young people you mention that are abandoning SF? If so, that’s probably a better mood indicator for SF real estate than Case Schiller ;>)

  118. Posted by marketwatcher

    Ouch – how craven! Looks like more San Francisco-style settling-for-less. Folks will buy these units because they have convinced themselves that this is the maximum they deserve – and anything more would be materialistic excess. I’m a liberal – but this is the wrong kind of liberal guilt. It benefits no one except the developers that are convincing people that living in a dorm room is the height of success.
    Save your money for a few more years and buy something that is practical and has potential.

  119. Posted by Satchel

    Mishima…. LOL! The sophisticates of SF! Back when I was a kid in the Bronx in the 1970s, living in a cramped apartment but MUCH larger than this CUBIX junk, a few of the neighborhood guys (no college education – one became a chef, one a postman) were always reading Kimitake/Mishima. There were a few guys on the block who went out and bought Japanese swords (but no seppukku, thankfully). I always get a laugh out of the hipsters here thinking they are so special….

  120. Posted by LuvSF2

    Re: Mishima. I was at a cafe in the WickerPark district in Chicago and noted what people were reading; 1. “Queer Forester- the life of E.M. Forster 2. Thomas Frank (who lives in Chicago), 3. Mishima 4.”Unto this Last” by John Ruskin, etc. etc. THIS is the Midwest!?
    I would be pleased to see such reading choices found in cafes here in San Francisco. But who could have books in a CLOSET unit like these when there is no space to store them? People are not rats. They have lovers, friends, books, bikes, etc. These units do not have the space or storage to accomodate a healthy human life.

  121. Posted by Foolio

    @LuvSF2: Why so judgmental? Who says a healthy human life has to have lovers, friends, or even any form of human interaction whatsoever? Maybe you should stop imposing your judgments on others… ;-)

  122. Posted by sparky

    Who’s to say those books don’t suck

  123. Posted by San FronziScheme

    noearch,
    I have nothing against architects. But I am critical of people who recycle ideas from another time/place when we know they didn’t work there.
    For instance, the suburbs of most cities in France are a soulless concrete jungle.
    City planners had the need to stack as many people as possible close to where jobs/transportation was available.
    Architects were really happy to have a lot of play-doh – sorry, I meant people – and money to build their own private utopia.
    Fast forward 40-50 years later. The experiment failed. The play-doh people revolted in November 2005.
    50s-60s architecture was great for a few very well designed houses and some large administrations, but it failed for most of the rest like mass/density housing.
    Why make the same mistake? To have your name in a coffee table book?

  124. Posted by noearch

    fronzi:
    I have no idea what your rambling really means..you are still full of derogatory comments and anger based criticism..you have architects typecast anyway..
    I certainly understand that these units don’t work for you. thats fine, but I and many others think they are a viable alternative housing type for some..let’s leave it at that..

  125. Posted by WHY

    How could any architect be for this as a “solution” to a shortage of housing in San Francisco?

  126. Posted by San FronziScheme

    noearch, I just wish Architects would learn from what worked and what didn’t work and build from there. But it looks like some want to make their own little social statement whatever the consequences on other people’s lives.
    Small places are a necessity, but don’t try and make us love them.

  127. Posted by sparky

    This bring up a question for me? What wouldn’t have gotten panned here. I’m sure full floor condos at 4200sq.ft, would have. Would 2100 (and let’s say $1.5M)? 1000ft. @ $770K and 28 total units?

  128. Posted by WHY

    Sparky, is that a flame or a real question? As a builder, is it so expensive to build in San Francisco that this is now the only type of affordable housing that can be constructed? Why are other urban areas of density able to still build affordable housing that are not closets? Why must we only look to Tokyo as an example for future growth?

  129. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    It is kind of sad that people complain about the high cost of housing, then these exact same people complain when inexpensive housing is built. SFS, the big difference between what we are seeing here and the Paris suburbs is that this is a small development, surrounded by other developments which are at different price points. No one is advocating building block after block of tiny apartments.
    Tell us WHY, where else are they building comparable apartments for less in an area of similar density? I am genuinely curious, because we might be able to pick up some ideas from these areas. Certainly not in New York or Boston.

  130. Posted by Fishchum

    Jim – given the size of the units and the price, I wouldn’t exactly call them “inexpensive”.

  131. Posted by Dude

    Chicago, Jim, that’s where. As WHY pointed out. Maybe not in prime Manhattan, but as has been stated a gazillion times, we don’t have their density or economy. As for Boston, here’s a similar size place in Beacon Hill for $220K:
    http://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/rfs/772633058.html
    Here’s one near Bunker Hill for under $200K:
    http://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/rfs/769862479.html
    Coincidentally, you can even find studios in Manhattan for under $250K if you’re willing to live in Washington Heights.

  132. Posted by JC

    BTW-the Avalon Apts. next door to this building are renting studios starting at $1880/month. I think they are about 100sf larger than most of these units, but still…where is everyone getting this $1000-1200/mo for studios in this hood?
    If you’re going to spend hours a day blogging your “facts” then get em straight first.

  133. Posted by Soma

    WHY, although I’m not disagreeing with you, I’ll give you some reasons:
    Cost and time of permitting.
    Labor costs in SF for construction workers.
    A certain district 7 supervisor mandating BMRs that undermine your profit pool or $20MM straight cash to build in his district.

  134. Posted by San FronziScheme

    NVJ,
    I am not complaining about the high cost of housing. I know a price has to be paid to live in a desirable place.
    900/sf is not and by far affordable. They are sugar coating the pill by lowering the square footage.
    If had I to live in one of these, I’d feel better in 550-600sf. Then you’ve got room for cabinets, privacy, entertaining somehow, and also a place where you can keep stuff for what you do for work and play: a small office, some sports equipment, whatever. In short a place where you can actually live. 330sf is more for people who will spend a lot of time outside.

  135. Posted by WHY

    Since you bring up Chicago, from Lincoln Park to Printers Row is an area with a density and skyline that would shock most San Franciscans. That city is HUGE, with a skyline greater than Manhattan. We talk about banning cars on Market Street yet Michigan Avenue has tons of cars and people and noise and street performers and THEY LOVE IT. They understand that energy, traffic, pedestrians are part of what keeps streets safe and they do not tolerate the homeless situation we have here.
    Chicago’s economy is not in the tank, so WHY are they able to provide true affordable housing. WHY if the market is so strong for housing in San Francisco can there not be buildings going up all over this city? It is the old time locals who don’t really like city life and a city government that has no desire to see this town turn into the city it claims to be. I bought almost two decades ago, but I always try to imagine someone in their 20′s looking for where to move like I did when I chose this great place. Would anyone really want to move here now? I would like some of those units listed above in Boston myself.

  136. Posted by Brutus

    WHY,
    NIMBYism is of course the main reason for all of the problems that you mention. I don’t think that most of us here like that there are so many restrictions on development, etc, but keep in mind the GOOD things that have come from NIMBYism over the years. If not for the NIMBYs of the 50′s and 60′s, we’d have ten freeways criss-crossing SF and likely one of two things:
    1. Significantly less housing (since so much would have been torn down)
    2. Significantly more housing, but mostly in commie-blocks.
    Either way SF would probably be a much cheaper city to live in. Chicago had the good fortune of having good transit already in the 50′s – and wide open land to the west for the fancy-schmancy new freeways to be built upon, rather than tearing up most of the inner-city.

  137. Posted by Anonymous

    WHY asks:
    “Chicago’s economy is not in the tank, so WHY are they able to provide true affordable housing?”
    I’ll tell you why. Chicago, unlike New York or Boston or San Francisco or Los Angeles, has NO rent control. There are no market distortions where people compare condo mortgages to rents on apartments where there’s a shortage of market-rate units, as there is here.
    I enjoy rent control as a renter, but San Francisco rent control most benefits and enriches the developers and real estate agents who have had overpriced condos to unload, and who were able to compare their ridiculously-priced units with what a comparable free-market San Francisco rental unit would rent for, when most everything is rent-controlled and off the market.

  138. Posted by Anonymous

    (Slight correction: Boston had rent control for decades, except for the past few years).

  139. Posted by sparky

    WHY,
    that wasn’t a flame, I am truly interested in what people on this site would think was acceptable. Because, the costs would have been lower for bigger unit, 2 bedrooms for example; with, what, 5 per floor and 1100 sq. ft.

  140. Posted by John

    sparky, 5 per floor? Probably 800sqft, no more than 900.

  141. Posted by dissent

    Is this the longest socketsite thread EVAH?

  142. Posted by sparky

    John,
    4000 square foot usable roof deck. actual roof then 5000 or so. With that, your 900 number is probably right.
    SO, would that make people happy. 900 at $_____ . 4 units at 1100 for $_________

  143. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Googling for Boston condos gives me this:
    http://www.boston-condos-for-sale.com/2008/02/20/beacon-hill-condos/
    These prices aren’t really significantly different than in San Francisco. Plus, this building is new construction which always commands a premium.
    Does anyone have solid information on comparable neighborhoods in Chicago? I can see that citywide, Chicago studios are about $340/sq ft, but that includes a lot of spread out area. Condos in Oakland are less than that.
    Most of the “affordable housing” in the SF MSA is actually in places like Antioch or Oakland.

  144. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Go to sfarmls.com and put in a maximum price of $300k and you can find lots of condos in that range, most of them from the Mayor’s Office of Housing.
    For market rate stuff:
    1155 Leavenworth #4 – $259k
    195 7th St #405 – $279k
    5571 Mission St #2 – $280k
    I could go on, but you get the point.

  145. Posted by anon

    NoeValleyJim, for 300K you can get a 2bd/2ba in neighborhoods in Chicago similar to Now Valley adjacent to subway stations and retail areas similar to 24th street.
    Go to Cribchatter.com which has interesting discussions about condos in Chicago.

  146. Posted by WHY

    Try 289K for a 3bd 3ba in a full floor Victorian Flat in a neighborhood similar to Noe Valley. (Lakeview District Chicago)
    Of all the posts on this thread, this says it all:
    “I’ll tell you why. Chicago, unlike New York or Boston or San Francisco or Los Angeles, has NO rent control. There are no market distortions where people compare condo mortgages to rents on apartments where there’s a shortage of market-rate units, as there is here”

  147. Posted by sparky

    I guess no one is going to put a real number to what they would have rather seen here. By here I mean this location in SF, not what it gets you in Chicago. Or is that it, when SF gets to Chicago prices and removes rent control, then it’s time to buy?
    OR how about this; Noe Valley condo with parking if no one wants to talk SOMA…what should 1500, 2000, 3000 sq. ft. condo’s cost in NV?

  148. Posted by noearch

    I want to see here exactly what’s being proposed here.
    makes sense for this market segment. well designed, well priced.

  149. Posted by John

    @sparky,
    At that location, I would rather see those cubes than 900sqft 2/1.
    Those cubes are for singles, more than enough for one person.
    While 900sqft may be enough for a couple, the lack of parking kills the deal. In addition, the freeway noise will be a major turn-off for families.

  150. Posted by shadrach

    The primary exposure for 2/3 of the units in this project will face onto a 15′ wide light well when a new building is constructed on the adjacent site. It is the responsibility of the architect to provide basic amenities such as light and air for the units; in this respect, the design fails miserably, despite the attempts to enliven the front and rear facades.
    The average studio in San Francisco is approximately 400-500 square feet. The area of these units approximates that of a dorm room or an SRO unit, rather than a studio. Some may want to spend 200K for a unit with very little light, no closets, and no space for a table, but I have a hard time seeing the logic in this.

  151. Posted by Chase

    Actually the largest studio in this building is less than 350 sf and there are only 8 that large. I viewed the units this past week; most are under 300sf. The prices start about 275K up to the low 300′s. Not sure when they are going to open. When I stopped by it looked still under construction.

  152. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Your claim that rent control is somehow responsible for the high cost of new construction doesn’t pass the smell test, sorry.
    Construction costs are dictated by the following things:
    1) Land cost
    2) Labor cost
    3) Material cost
    4) Cost of finance
    5) Permits and approvals
    6) Taxes
    7) Marketing and sales costs
    The BMR requirements are a tax, to me, and this explains why SF costs should be 15% higher. If rent control does increase overall average rental costs (highly debatable) how does that increase any of those costs to developers? Are you trying to claim that this increases labor costs?
    You can claim that it increases new rental costs, which it probably does, but how does that increase developer costs? This might effect how people do the buy vs. rent calculation, but as many have shown, people are buying even though that calculation today indicates that it is cheaper to rent. And if buyers are simply overpaying, then developer profits should be going through the roof and lots of people should be crowding the market trying to build units, which should lower the cost eventually.
    Perhaps this is going to happen, with all the new luxury condos on the market, but it doesn’t seem to have happened yet.
    Your simple-minded claim that the high cost of new construction is only caused by Rent Control cannot be true, though it is possible that this is part of the reason.

  153. Posted by anon

    NVJ,
    Rent control helps drive up the cost of land, your number one expense.

  154. Posted by anon

    NVJ,
    Rent control helps drive up the cost of land, because it drives up the price of rent, which in turn drives up the potential “income” of the land, which drives up the price of land.

  155. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Most people think that rent control lowers average rents, that is why large landlords always try to get it weakened or repealed and why groups like COH try and defend it.

  156. Posted by anon

    NVJ,
    It might lower average rents in old pre-1979 buildings that have to abide by it, but it most definitely helps to raise asking rents for all new buildings – and new buildings don’t have to abide by it.

  157. Posted by Satchel

    There is no real debate among economists (and anyone with some economic intuition or a reasonable intelligence level) that over time rent control leads to higher than equilibrium rents. It is a form of price control, which of course leads to shortages, underinvestment, distortions, etc. This has been true throughout recorded history, and I remember seeing academic discussions of the destruction caused by price controls on living spaces as long ago as in ancient Sumeria. The same general argument could be made for price controls on taxes (like prop 13), although the dynamics as those controls play out are slightly different (“overinvestment” in the asset, but similar “shortages” of “market-rate” units, e.g.).
    Here are two concise summaries that are worth reading:
    http://www.econlib.org/Library/Enc/RentControl.html
    http://jim.com/econ/chap18p1.html
    It’s just amazing that people still seem to misunderstand these processes.

  158. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    There is no doubt that rent control reduces the quality and quantity of housing available and generally increases rents for those tenants who are excluded from its protections, but neither of you have demonstrated that this leads to increased land values.
    If anything, the majority opinion is that rent control leads to underinvestment in maintenance, which causes blight, thereby depressing property values.
    Your ideology blinds you to the consideration that you don’t understand how everything works. It is much easier to have a pat textbook answer for everything.

  159. Posted by whatever

    NVJ, how do you explain Chicago? A huge dense central area with as much wealth and density as any great city, and yet there are new apartment buildings as well as condos rising everywhere, because developers know that building apartments there is still a good proposition. Chicago is CHEAP! http://www.cribchatter.com will show you what I mean. People say Chicago has “more room”, but so does L.A. and rents in the prime areas of L.A. are as high as S.F. thanks to rent control. Look at Santa Monica, which is MUCH more expensive than San Francisco and is almost impossible to get an apartment in, while at the same time, most renters are paying on average more than $1000 a month below market rate. I know a friend who lives in a building in the Marina where all six units have long term tenants, none of which pays more than 1200 a month. (They are all 1 and 2 bds. w pkg.) Would you want to build apartments in Santa Monica? Whould you want to fight those renters in trying to build new condomiums in Santa Moncia?
    The whole idea that it is expensive in San Francisco because we are “special” is wrong, except for the fact that San Francisco is special in its combination of Prop 13 and rent control, along with decades of slow growth in housing, and decades fighting change. If this city were allowed to build adequate housing, it would be no more “special” or expenisve than Chicago.

  160. Posted by anon

    whatever,
    While your point is somewhat valid, Chicago is a horrible example because the metro area does not have the same geographic constraints of either the Bay Area, LA, or NYC. In spite of the feel good thought that simply “allowing people to build” would bring down prices, it’s unlikely that prices would ever be as low as Chicago levels, because of factors like geography, seismic building codes, more immigration, etc. This also completely ignores that fact that if we actually increased supply enough to lower prices for an extended period, we’d likely have a huge increase in demand. How many people do you know that moved from California simply because they could buy two houses somewhere else?

  161. Posted by anon

    NVJ,
    While your theory about land prices being driven down by lack of investment in neighboring properties sounds nice, it just simply doesn’t matter except maybe at the neighborhood level. Yes, properties in the Bayview may be lower because of blighted properties all around, but the land value of a place in Russian Hill is not going to be affected much because some guy across the street hasn’t painted his apartment building in awhile, because the overall neighborhood is still plenty nice.

  162. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    You aren’t really paying attention to what I am saying: I don’t think that rent control has much, if anything, to do with the high cost of land. Or the high cost of new construction in general. No one has really offered any evidence of why this might be true, or even referred to a source that indicates so. The sources listed by Satchel claimed that rent control leads to burned out buildings and blight, like in South Bronx. They did not directly talk about the cost of new housing, but I would imagine land in a blighted area would be inexpensive.

  163. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    I know that I have not addressed why new construction *does* cost so much here, other than passing mention of the BMR ordinance. I don’t really want to have that discussion right now, on this thread. Maybe some other time.

  164. Posted by Satchel

    NVJ,
    Rent control leads to artificially distorted (read, high) prices at the margin (the non-controlled unit, e.g.). It also leads to underutiization of the existing rental housing stock, which should be obvious (BTW, same goes for prop 13). This is because the price -controlled units are artificially held low, causing existing tenants or owners to “waste” the asset (they are not paying the full price, after all). This waste is reflected as underutilization.
    On the flip side, the underutilization of the controlled units (combined with land use restrictions, limited land mass, and all the other wonderful things that make SF what it is) work to increase the relative scarcity of the non-controlled units. This leads to higher prices at the margin, and it goes for BOTH rental-equivalent type units (condos, Avalon Bay apartments, e.g.) and “market rate” SFHs (they’re not market rate at all – their prices reflect the distortions created by rent control and prop 13). This higher realizable value (SFH price, OR higher than equilibrium rent for the non-rent controlled unit) causes an increase in land value, as land cost is a capitalization of the income potential at its highest and best use – either actual income (as rent) or imputed income (as imputed owner equivalent rent).
    (The same dynamics played out in NYC, BTW. NVJ, I was THERE in the Bronx in the 1970s and early 1980s, and saw what happened (I grew up there). The buildings were burned in order to escape the regulations of rent control. The land (once the restrictions were lifted through arson) had higher value than with the restrictions. In fact, much of it was worth $0 after the burning, which was STILL higher than when it was subject to rent control. Hence the burning.)
    This is the first order effect of the distortions, as regards land cost.
    The second order costs of foolish policies like rent control and prop 13 show up in the labor market. Because a group of people with a claim to scarce resources is being “carried” and subsidized by the population as a whole, these implicit costs must be borne by the others who are not being subsidized. This often take the form of increased government taxation. There is also a subtle shift of the work force towards “high value” type work, which is the only type of work where productive capacity is high enough to reward the workers with the high wages that are necessary to pay the high costs of housing and taxation. This effect is subtle and works over time, of course, as the distorions compound.
    While at first this shift to “high value” work SOUNDS good, recognize that a city cannot exist and function as a city with only “high value” people. Someone has to do the mundane things while the hipsters to chat on their iPhones and the employees of the Fraudancials to work their blackberries, after all. The very character of the place becomes dependent on the distortions set up through government meddling (here, we’re talking about prop 13 and rent control, but it could be generalized to just about any meddling). At this point, political pressure builds for “subsidies”, requiring further taxation and diversion of the wealth of the population. This partly explains the outgrageous pay of government employees. And of course, it partly explains increased government growth, both in budgetary terms as well as in regulatory scope. Perhaps one could look at this as an additional “third-order” cost.
    Anyway, I wouldn’t make the huge claim that land is so expensive in SF simply because of rent control or prop 13, but these foolish policies do pressure land cost upwards. My big argument against rent control is that – OVER TIME – it leads to higher rents (both average AND marginal) than would otherwise prevail, as well as decreases in the amount and quality of the rental housing stock. If rent control were eliminated tomorrow, there is little doubt in my mind that average rents in the short term would rise, while marginal rents would drop dramatically. Over a longer period, both would fall (in real terms), although general price and wage inflation would likely mask it.
    I cited a few articles (dismissed by NVJ) that are well worth reading. The literature among the truly great in economics on rent controls has a long and illustrious history. People who are interested can look for a series of works put out by the Fraser Institute in the mid-19070s-early 1980s, which included a seminal work on the topic by one of the all time greats F.A. Hayek (most people know him for his seminal work, The Road to Serfdom (1944), which EVERYONE should read at least twice. The other name most often associated with this literature is Walter Block. And for a popular fun set of readings on this, one can look to Thomas Sowell, an academic who is not very dry and who has done some terrific work to make acessible some deep insights into how economies and societies work.

  165. Posted by Satchel

    NVJ,
    I just saw your post on BMR increasing construction costs. BMR is of course another subsidy program, in this case foisted on the buying population by the government. Another example of how the government increases its “spending” (and which BTW will not show up in gov spending figures). BMR acts as a “tax”, which is directly siphoned off from the developers (who just pass it along to the buyers).
    Without follishness like rent control and prop 13, there would be no need for “BMR” programs, which are just folly anyway.

  166. Posted by Brutus

    Without follishness like rent control and prop 13, there would be no need for “BMR” programs, which are just folly anyway.
    Satchel,
    Wouldn’t you say this is a massive oversimplification? Wouldn’t it be necessary to completely get rid of any and all zoning laws and “community input” on development as well? That would allow the market to supply the necessary housing, regardless of what currently exists.

  167. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    If the claim rent control increases land value is true, then land values should have dropped in Boston when they eliminated rent control in 1994. The opposite happened, as many formerly dilapidated neighborhoods experienced a revival.
    I don’t disagree with your primary assessment that rent control, especially as practiced in San Francisco, creates “two markets” with the bulk of rental increases falling upon the unregulated market. But this is still tangential to the claim that this increases land values and neither of the articles you linked to address this either.
    I can see how your line of logic follows now though, as to how increased rents in the margin can lead to increased land values. If this were the whole story though, we should see a shift from development of condos and SFH to more multi-family rental stock. And since the proportion of renters to home-owners in The City has been stable since the enactment of the Rent Control ordinance in 1979, there must be more going on here.
    And there is of course, since the impact of zoning and land use policies far outweigh any impact of rent control. That is why I said that there is perhaps some small effect from rent control on the cost of new housing, but that it is mostly inconsequential. Considering other indirect effects, it is just as likely to be negative as positive and I doubt that anyone can “prove” it either way. I am certainly not familiar with any economist who has made that claim, least of all a majority.

  168. Posted by anon94123

    Before I bought my first property in San Francisco, I rented a unit in Cow Hollow. The owner of the building only rented abut 1/3 of his units in that he was hoping to eventually sell the building without any tenants since it would be “worth more”. His goal was never reached because of one widow who refused to die but the building was sold almost empty. (I paid $2100 a month for a 1bd, she paid 650)
    Satchel is right. With rent control the building was worth less if units were leased at below market rates, so an artificial housing shortage was created by units being kept empty. How many people in the city know of buildings where units are kept empty? I know of many, especially in the Marina.

  169. Posted by Satchel

    Brutus & NVJ,
    Of course my diatribe is a little bit of an oversimplification – but not too much!
    The key in my view here is to recognize that a “market” ALWAYS supplies the necessary housing. The “market” is always changing, of course. If there truly is a shortage, people will just utilize the existing housing stock better as prices rise, and some will simply be forced out of the region.
    (This is exactly what happened in the NYC area in the post war 1950s, when it was the norm for returning soldiers and their entire families to share apartments after the almost complete lack of building following 15 years of Depression and then war. Note how no “land use” or “zoning” restrictions stoped the massive buildout of the NYC suburbs in the 1950s in response to this actual shortage!)
    The other thing is zoning/land use issues. Again, in my view, it is key to understand that these are endogenously-given variables. They are the result of a political process, which at its core wants to preserve the subsidy system (here, we’re talking about prop 13 and rent control) in place, because many of the people who “write the laws” are benefitting from it. So, of course land use/zoning restrictions increase costs, and perhaps contribute to the perceived “need” for additional subsidies like BMR programs. But my contention is that zoning and land use debates would look entirely different if there weren’t huge entrenched interests “steering” the debates.
    As NVJ notes, it all really can’t be proven either way, because there is no way to run a controlled experiment of an entire economy “with” distortions versus “without”. So, all we can do is theorize and try to extrapolate from historical examples that seem relevant.

  170. Posted by Ben Woodward

    I like it, but I think it would work better if you replaced the sofa bed with something like a murphy wall bed. The place is already so small, a wall bed would help give it a little more space.

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