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November 27, 2013

Dorms For Developers In San Francisco?


While it was originally reported that Build Inc. was planning to build around 120 rental units on the half-acre SoMa parking lot which fronts 12th, Norfolk and Harrison Streets, plans for the construction of three six-story buildings with 235 group housing suites and up to 470 individual beds, common living areas and shared kitchens have been drafted for the 1532 Harrison Street site.


The full scoop on what’s being planned and the rendering for what has been proposed:

In total, the project would construct approximately 235 group housing "suites" designed for single or double occupancy which would be grouped into nine "houses" per building. Each house would each feature common kitchens, dining areas, living areas and balconies.


The individual suites would range in size from 227 to 409 square feet and include individual bathrooms, sinks, two-burner "kitchenettes" and balconies for suites above the first floor.

The three proposed buildings would rise up to 65 feet in height and be joined by a series of sky bridges over two mid-block alleys between 12th and Norfolk Streets.

In addition to the housing, just under 5,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space would be constructed at the northern edge of the project off Norfolk Street and at the corner of Harrison and 12th Streets (click the rendering above to enlarge).

The plans which will require Conditional Use Authorization from the Planning Commission to proceed include 480 underground parking spaces for bicycles and only one off-street parking space for car share as well as one space for a handicap van.

Posted by socketadmin at 2:00 PM | Comments (98)

More Height And Housing In The Mission And Planning's Thoughts


Purchased for $1,300,000 three months ago, plans to demolish the auto repair shop at 1900 Mission Street on the corner of 15th and construct a six-story building with nine dwelling units, eight parking spaces, 650 square feet of ground floor retail and 1,670 feet of office space on the second floor have been quietly submitted to San Francisco’s Planning Department for review.


Finding that the use and massing are appropriate for the site in general, the Planning Department did provide the following comments with respect to the preliminary design:

The Planning Department appreciates the height given to the ground floor, and suggests that more could be done to allow that to be apparent. A means of achieving this may include reducing the depth of the horizontal band and adding height to the storefront. The horizontal banding at the top of the ground floor provides a strong base defining feature, however to augment the articulation of the facades, the ledge should not project further than approximately 6 inches.
In general, the repetitive elements along the Mission street façade should be executed with exceptional materials and detailing. While the bay spacing is extremely rigorous, some thought should be given to alternative spacing and groupings of the bays. The detailing should serve to further the architectural themes and impart scale and texture to all visible facades. Windows should be recessed from the exterior by a minimum of 2 inches.
Please consider adding functional aspects that contribute to the façade composition and details, such as Juliette balconies, and brise-soleils [and] consider using the bay projections to help terminate the building at the roof, perhaps incorporating the rhythm into the parapet system.
More should be made of the corner. The corner should receive an improved treatment other than the proposed opaque wall. The Planning Department recommends the corner be expressed with a distinct design treatment, differentiated from the body of the building, while still relating to the massing, proportions, and scale of the rest of the building. It may be desirable to combine the bays at the corner to achieve this effect. Alternatively, consideration could be given to emphasizing the Mission Street height and façade as a distinct architectural element, perhaps with more transparency and less austerity, which could achieve a similar effect.

The existing lease for the operators of the garage expires on March 31, 2014.

Posted by socketadmin at 10:00 AM | Comments (24)

The Designs For Apple's Proposed Union Square Store Plaza


As part of the design for Apple's proposed flagship store on Union Square, the Grand Hyatt Hotel Plaza between the existing Levi’s Store and Grand Hyatt Hotel will be reconfigured.

In addition to moving Ruth Asawa's San Francisco Fountain a little to the north and a foot closer to the street, the rectangular tree-lined plaza behind the proposed Apple store would terminate at a new water feature wall at the west end of the plaza with concrete benches, large planter boxes, and a stone-paved area for tables and chairs between.


Recessed light fixtures would illuminate the plaza, fountain and wall of water at night:


Posted by socketadmin at 8:30 AM | Comments (12)

November 26, 2013

High Speed Rail Ruling Threatens Transbay Terminal Plan As Well

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny has ruled that California's High Speed Rail Authority cannot access the $9 billion in bonds that voters had approved for the HSR project back in 2008. While the ruling doesn’t kill HSR in California outright, it does drive a significant stake, or sharp tie, through the project's pocketbook. From the LA Times:

Kenny ruled that the state does not have a valid financing plan, which was required under the 2008 bond measure, Proposition 1A. The measure included provisions intended to ensure the state did not start the project if it did not have all of the necessary funds to complete a self-supporting, initial operating segment.
The state rail agency created a funding plan, but it was an estimated $25 billion short of the amount needed to complete a first working section of the line.
Kenny ruled that the state must rescind the plan and create a new one, a difficult task because the state High-Speed Rail Authority hasn't identified sources of additional revenue to allocate to the project.

In addition, Kenny ruled officials "made critical errors in approving the sale of the bonds" and declined to legally validate their sale but did refuse to grant a request to stop California's HSR project in its tracks or cancel construction contracts which have already been issued.

The state has argued it can use federal grant funds, which are not subject to the conditions of Proposition 1A, to start construction. But eventually the state will have to match federal grant funds. Without access to bond funds, the legislature would have to appropriate money from a different source.

The ruling doesn't only threaten California's High Speed Rail project but also the 1.4 mile extension of Caltrain from Forth and King to San Francisco's new Transbay Transit Center, a billion-dollar-plus project which would have to be funded by the City and Caltrain if the dollars for HSR fall short.

Posted by socketadmin at 2:15 PM | Comments (144)

Seeing Red And Green At 285 San Anselmo Avenue


Sitting on a near half-acre lot, the 6,700 square foot St. Francis Wood home at 285 San Anselmo Avenue was originally designed by Samuel Lightner Hyman and Abraham Appleton.


The interior, however, has since undergone a contemporary remodeling, including a modern high-end kitchen finished with white Zodiaq quartz counters and Spanish red Poggenpohl cabinetry:



With five bedrooms and six baths across two floors and a paved eight car "motorcourt" which ends at a three car garage, the property is now on the market for $6,850,000.

∙ Listing: 285 San Anselmo Avenue (5/6) 6,700 sqft - $6,850,000 [285sananselmo.com]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:30 PM | Comments (27)

Former Giants Party Pad Facing Strike Three

3157 Baker Street

The one-time Marina party pad of former San Francisco Giants' pitchers Brian Wilson and Barry Zito, 3157 Baker Street was on the market in 2008 for $5,000,000 before being relisted for $3,695,000 in 2010 as the "former residence to celebrity chef, CEOs, [and] professional athletes" and then offered for rent at $13,500 a month via Craigslist.

Having avoided being foreclosed upon 2011 despite being in default since 2009 when $35,875 behind on a $2,283,000 loan, the five-bedroom "Marina Mansion" at 3157 Baker Street is once again scheduled to hit the courthouse steps this afternoon in San Francisco with what would appear to be over $800,000 in past due payments and fees now owed on that aforementioned loan.

Posted by socketadmin at 10:30 AM | Comments (2)

San Francisco House And Condo Values Tick Up But Slow Their Roll

While the pace continues to slow from the record setting gains recorded in April and May, single-family home and condo values in San Francisco continued to tick up in September.

According to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, single-family home values in the San Francisco MSA rose 0.8% from August to September 2013. Up 25.7% year-over-year, the San Francisco Index remains 17.6% below a May 2006 peak.

For the broader 10-City composite (CSXR), home values gained 0.7% from August to September and are up 13.3% year-over-year but remain 20.4% below a June 2006 peak.

"Twelve cities posted double-digit annual returns. Regionally, the West continues to lead with Las Vegas gaining 29.1% year-over-year followed by San Francisco at 25.7%, Los Angeles at 21.8% and San Diego at 20.9%. San Francisco and Los Angeles showed their highest annual returns since March 2001 and December 2005. Although Chicago has not reached double-digit growth, the city recorded its highest year-over-year gain since November 2005.
The strong price gains in the West are sparking questions and concerns about the possibility of another bubble. However the talk is focused on fear of a bubble, not a rush to join the party and buy. Moreover, other data suggest a market beginning to shift to slower growth rather than one about to accelerate. Existing home sales weakened in the most recent report, home construction remains far below the boom levels of six or seven years ago and interest rates are expected to be higher a year from now.
Housing continues to emerge from the financial crisis: the proportion of homes in foreclosure is declining and consumers’ balance sheets are strengthening. The longer run question is whether household formation continues to recover and if home ownership will return to the peak levels seen in 2004."

On a month-over-month basis, prices ticked up across all three San Francisco price tiers but at less than one percent for those in the middle and top tiers.

S&P/Case-Shiller Index San Francisco Price Tiers: September 2013 (www.SocketSite.com)

The bottom third (under $494,717 at the time of acquisition) gained 1.0% from August to September (up 39.2% YOY); the middle third gained 0.4% from August to September (up 27.0% YOY); and the top third (over $814,084 at the time of acquisition) gained 0.6% from August to September, up 19.3% year-over-year versus 18.5% in August.

According to the Index, single-family home values for the bottom third of the market in the San Francisco MSA are back to June 2003 levels (38% below an August 2006 peak); the middle third is back above August 2004 levels (18% below a May 2006 peak); and the top third remains just above April 2005 levels and 6% below its August 2007 peak.

Condo values in the San Francisco MSA rose 0.5% from August to September 2013 and are up 27.2% year-over-year, within 4.6% of their December 2005 peak.

S&P/Case-Shiller Condo Price Changes: September 2013 (www.SocketSite.com)

Our standard SocketSite S&P/Case-Shiller footnote: The S&P/Case-Shiller home price indices include San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, and Alameda in the "San Francisco" index (i.e., greater MSA) and are imperfect in factoring out changes in property values due to improvements versus appreciation (although they try their best).

Home Prices Advance in Third Quarter [Standard & Poor's]
Home Prices In San Francisco Tick Up But The Pace Is Slowing [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Comments (4)

November 25, 2013

Moving Fast In San Francisco, But Even Faster In San Jose

Just over 43 percent of the homes listed for sale in San Francisco metropolitan area were in contract within two weeks of their listing date last month, up from 41 percent in September but down from 46 percent in October 2012.

Listings in San Jose have been moving even faster, with 49 percent of listings in contract within two weeks last month, but that’s down from 54 percent at the same time last year.

Across the 23 metro areas which Redfin measured, the median time it took a listing to go into contract was 31 days last month, down from 43 days at the same time last year, with 28 percent of new listings pending within two weeks versus 23 percent last year.

Posted by socketadmin at 2:00 PM | Comments (0)

The Final Map For 115 Miles Of Green Connections To Crisscross SF

San Francisco's Green Connections Map

The final map for 115 miles of walking and biking paths to crisscross San Francisco will be officially unveiled next week on December 4, along with the conceptual plans for the first six "Green Connections" in the Bayview, Chinatown, Potrero Hill, Tenderloin, Visitacion Valley, and Western Addition neighborhoods.

As we first reported last year when the draft map and 25 proposed routes were announced, the goal of San Francisco's "Green Connections" project is to improve non-motorized access to San Francisco's parks, open space and waterfront by re-envisioning target City streets and paths as a network of 'green connectors' to be landscaped, traffic calmed, and improved for pedestrian and bicycle access over the next twenty years.

Posted by socketadmin at 11:45 AM | Comments (75)

Bay Area Commercial Boom: San Francisco Second To Santa Clara

Spending on commercial real estate construction activity around the Bay Area this year is expected to top the record $6 billion mark set in 2000 and could reach as high as $6.7 billion by the end of 2013.

The Bay Area County with the most commercial construction activity is currently Santa Clara County which should cross the $2.1 billion mark by the end of the year, a total which doesn’t include the $1.3 billion Levi's Stadium project for the San Francisco 49ers.

Behind Santa Clara, San Francisco County should just miss the $2 billion mark which would be higher than in 2011 and 2012 but below the spending in 2010.

And at a projected $765 million in 2013, spending on commercial real estate construction in San Mateo County should be six times the amount in 2012 while the projected $681 million to be spent across Alameda and Contra Costa Counties in 2013 would be the lowest in five years.

Posted by socketadmin at 9:15 AM | Comments (3)

The Soul Of San Francisco And The Backlash By The Bay

"As the center of the technology industry has moved north from Silicon Valley to San Francisco and the largess from tech companies has flowed into the city — Twitter’s stock offering unleashed an estimated 1,600 new millionaires — income disparities have widened sharply, housing prices have soared and orange construction cranes dot the skyline. The tech workers have, rightly or wrongly, received the blame." (Backlash by the Bay: Tech Riches Alter a City)

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Comments (64)

Catching Fire On Mission Street At $2,550 Per Square Foot


As we noted when the 1,664 square foot condo on the 48th floor of San Francisco’s Millennium Tower hit the market in February asking $4,500,000, the Millennium Tower wasn't built with any fireplaces in place, but that didn’t stop the buyer of 301 Mission Street #48B from adding one.

Purchased as new for $2,400,000 in February of 2010, the Grand Residence was more or less gutted and rebuilt over the course of a year. And in addition to the new alcohol burning fireplace, the second bedroom was reconfigured as a library with an electronically controlled Murphy bed behind the Ebony cabinetry and the master bathroom was rebuilt in marble, limestone and glass:


This past Friday, the sale of 301 Mission Street #48B closed escrow on Friday with a reported contract price of $4,250,000 or just over $2,550 per listed square foot.

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Comments (5)

November 22, 2013

Clearing The Way For San Francisco's First Micro-Unit Building


Unless an appeal is filed within the next few hours, the permit to demolish the one-story building on the southwest corner of Mission and Ninth will be issued, clearing the way for San Francisco’s first micro-unit building to rise and be ready for occupancy in 2015.

Originally proposed as student housing, the 11-story building to be constructed at 1321 Mission Street and dubbed "SoMa Central" will have a total of 160 market-rate units, 120 of which will be so called micro-units with as little as 220 square feet of space.

And yes, that's 220 square feet in total, including the closets and bathroom.

Posted by socketadmin at 2:30 PM | Comments (77)

San Francisco Unemployment Drops But Employment Drops As Well

The unemployment rate in San Francisco ticked down to 5.3 percent in October, the second lowest level since the 5.2 percent rate in June of 2008 when 434,000 people out of a labor force of 457,800 were employed in the city.

The drop in San Francisco’s October unemployment rate, however, was driven by a 4,100 person decrease in the current labor force to 481,900 rather than an increase in employment, with the number of employed in San Francisco dropping by 3,600 as the number of unemployed dropped by 500. That being said, some impact from the Federal shutdown was likely in play.

The number of employed in San Francisco now totals 456,400 which is up by 12,600 workers on a year-over-year basis but is 9,100 workers below a December 2000 dot-com peak at which point the unemployment rate measured 3 percent. The unemployment rate in San Francisco peaked at 10.1 percent in January of 2010 when 48,700 fewer San Francisco residents were employed than today.

The unadjusted unemployment rate in California ticked up to 8.3 percent from September to October as the number of unemployed increased by 7,600 and employment fell by 152,600. The unemployment rate in Marin ticked up by 0.1 points to 4.8 percent while it remained at 5.1 percent in San Mateo.

Posted by socketadmin at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

Presidio Trust Punts On Mid-Crissy Plans But Remains Enthusiastic


Reaffirming its "strong commitment to accomplishing an outcome in the Mid-Crissy area that will protect the park and bring long-term benefit to the Presidio and its visitors," the Presidio Trust Board of Directors has exercised its option of "not necessarily selecting any team" to redevelop the former Commissary and current Sports Basement site across from Crissy Field and has asked the three finalists to revise and resubmit their proposals.

"The Board believes that there is tremendous thought, creativity, and potential in the proposals offered by the three finalists. The Board also understands that it holds the option of not necessarily selecting any team at this point. Such is the importance of the site that we take seriously our duty to do right by it, even if that means waiting. That said, we are very enthusiastic about the proposals, and appreciate the wonderful work that has gone into them, the generosity behind them, and the promise they hold for enhancing the Presidio.
We have sought to engage in a fair and open public process – from the development of the Mid-Crissy design guidelines, to the release, in November 2012, of the Request for Concept Proposals and the subsequent Request for Proposals. In the interest of transparency, the Board would like to share its observations at this point in the process."

Focusing on "achieving program clarity, ensuring the building's compatibility with the Presidio, and understanding how economic viability will be assured," the Board's observations and feedback for the three finalists to consider should they elect to revise and resubmit a proposal:

Feedback for The Bridge/Sustainability Institute Team:

An amazing architectural group has teamed up with a compelling programmatic visionary around the issues of sustainability. We agree with the proponents that sustainability is “perhaps the defining issue of our time,” and appreciate the blending of the physical building and the program in an effort to advance a holistic understanding of sustainability. We also see a clear connection between the sustainability issue and our work at the Presidio – in environmental restoration, historic preservation, environmental education, and financial sustainability. We are concerned, however, about the institutional capacity of the team to, without significant funds or fundraising help from the Trust, deliver and sustain the project financially. We encourage the WRNS/Chora team to bring more clarity to the question of who might fund the building and early programming, and what institution will be created to operate and sustain the Bridge. While the building is “light on the land,” it is also too large and we urge some consolidation of the building program.

Feedback Lucas Cultural Arts Museum (LCAM) Team:

The Board recognizes and appreciates both the generosity and opportunity represented in George Lucas’s offer to build a cultural arts museum in the Presidio. We are enthusiastic about the state-of-the-art exhibits, strong community programming, and notable art collection that is offered in the proposal. The Trust is particularly excited about the potential of exceptional educational programming to draw diverse audiences to the museum and the greater Presidio. Despite this, we have significant issues with the proposed building – its massing and height, and its architectural style – and believe should be redesigned to be more compatible with the Presidio. We would also like to understand more fully the potential role of the Trust in partnership with LCAM, particularly in creating programmatic connections that would add value to other park programs throughout the Presidio.

Feedback for the Presidio Exchange (PX) Team

There is no question about the level of expertise, design excellence and community engagement that the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy brings to each project it undertakes. The Presidio, and the broader Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is replete with examples of the Conservancy’s good work and of its ethos of partnership in the public interest. The Conservancy’s approach to programming at the PX – intended to be varied, flexible and relevant over time to park audiences – is fascinating. Yet, these attributes also make it harder to understand what the PX is truly striving for programmatically. What is the master narrative? Is there an overall theme, or focus, that can be better articulated so that the Trust will understand how PX programming will differ from/complement existing or planned programs, such as the Presidio Visitor Center, Heritage Center, and Crissy Field Center?

Revised proposals are due by January 3, 2014 with a public meeting to discuss the revisions to be scheduled for later that month. The Presidio Trust Board will indicate a direction for the Mid-Crissy site following the public meeting in January.

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Comments (33)

November 21, 2013

Plans For Two Jack London Square Towers And Nearly 700 Units


Having completed the first phase of its redevelopment of Oakland's Jack London Square in 2008, Ellis Partners' plan was to add a 120,000 square foot office/retail building at the corner of Broadway and Embarcadero and a 135,000 square foot office building on Embarcadero between Harrison and Alice. Instead, two residential towers with up to 665 units are now being proposed for phase two.

The new plan calls for "two housing towers of more than 20 stories" on the parcels and the city of Oakland appears to be supportive of the change from commercial to residential use, "as long as it activates the area and [they] become landmarks for the neighborhood."

Posted by socketadmin at 11:00 AM | Comments (68)

San Francisco's Folsom Street Off-Ramp And Fremont Street Redesign

As you might have noticed, an Interstate 80 off-ramp currently runs through San Francisco’s Transbay Block 8, the site for a 550-foot residential tower to rise (click designs to enlarge).

In order to increase the size of the Block 8 parcel for the development of up to 740 housing units, the Folsom Street off-ramp will be reconfigured, converting the diagonal off-ramp into a straight off-ramp that ends at Fremont Street with construction slated to start in August 2014:

The existing Interstate 80 off-ramp splits into two different legs, directing traffic in two directions. The northbound Fremont Street leg enables vehicles to travel towards downtown San Francisco and has approximately four times the peak hour traffic as the Folsom Street leg.

[T]he realigned Folsom Street off-ramp will mirror the Fremont Street leg with a touchdown at 90 degrees with the intersection and a tight inside turning radius of 30’. When completed, the intersection will be signalized to allow pedestrians to perpendicularly cross the off-ramps on the west side of Fremont Street. The design of the new traffic signal will be prioritized for off-ramp traffic by remaining in the “green” phase, except when a pedestrian needs to cross.

The Folsom Street off-ramp realignment is scheduled to be finished by February 2015.

Posted by socketadmin at 9:30 AM | Comments (14)

A Year Ago Mortgage Rates Hit An All-Time Low, And Now?


The average rate for a conforming 30-year mortgage ticked down to 4.22 percent over the past week, 36 basis points lower than the two-year high of 4.58 percent measured in August. Absent any big negative economic news, the Fed’s talk of tapering its bond purchase program will likely cause mortgage rates to tick back up despite the Fed's concerns and intentions.

The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.31 percent at this time last year, the all-time recorded low, having averaged 6.71 percent since 1990 and 8.61 percent over the past 40 years.

In terms of the 30-year rate for Jumbo loans over $625,500, Wells Fargo is currently advertising a rate of 4.125 percent, a discount of .375 points as compared to the 4.50 percent rate they’re advertising for both regular conforming and super conforming loans over $417,000 in high cost areas like San Francisco.

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Comments (3)

November 20, 2013

San Francisco's Transbay Block 8 And 550-Foot Tower Back In Play

Transbay Block 8 Massing (steelblue and NEORAMA via SocketSite.com)

Suspended back in 2009 when bids for the property came in "well below the potential value of the site in a healthier real estate market," San Francisco's Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure has just issued a new request for proposals to purchase and develop Transbay Block 8, the one-acre parcel fronting Folsom Street between First and Fremont.

Transbay Block 8 (First and Folsom)

Zoned for a 550-foot tower to rise on the site, the City is seeking proposals for "a high-density, residential project with approximately 740 units, 27 percent of which must be affordable to qualifying households, and ground-floor retail in multiple building types, including a 550-foot tower, townhouses, and podium buildings" as rendered in red above.

The Request For Proposals to develop Transbay Block 8 back in 2008 had targeted the development of 597 housing units on the site, nearly 20 percent fewer than is now being sought.

Posted by socketadmin at 1:30 PM | Comments (62)

While Concerned About Rising Rates, Fed Positioning To Act

The minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's October meeting suggest that the Fed is likely to trim their monthly purchase of $85 billion in bonds "in [the] coming months," perhaps even "before an unambiguous further improvement in the [economic] outlook [is] apparent."

At the same time, concerns about the impact of the trimming on interest rates remain, with the Fed discussing options to keep rates down or at the very least "signal its intention" to do so.

Posted by socketadmin at 12:00 PM | Comments (1)

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