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  #1  
Old Posted Aug 29, 2006, 8:55 PM
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Question Bay Area Proposals/Approvals/Construction Tidbits II

The old "tidbits" thread exceeded the 2,000 post limit; you may find it in the forum's "archive" section.

Please post here your snippets of information on interesting Bay Area projects that don't quite deserve their own threads.
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Old Posted Sep 1, 2006, 1:05 AM
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Check out the PDF!
---

S.J. Skyline to Get Makeover
Developers Rushing to Fill Up the Gap in Luxury Housing

By Katherine Conrad
Mercury News
August 29, 2006


An artist's rendering of Axis, a 22-story condo project planned for downtown San Jose.

Graphic: Planned Residential High-Rises (PDF)

Bucking a nationwide trend, developers are on track to build high-rise condominiums that will dramatically alter downtown San Jose's skyline.

As builders in Southern California and along the East Coast pull back from condominium construction, developers in San Jose remain bullish about a market they say is eager for their product -- luxurious urban condos offering views, spas and concierge services. Such housing, they say, appeals to those with six-figure incomes, no children and a desire to be downtown.

Even more important, banks are showing confidence. Two weeks ago, Fremont Investment & Loan agreed to lend KT Properties of San Jose and Spring Capital of Eugene, Ore., $128.5 million to build the Axis, a 22-story tower on Almaden Boulevard and Santa Clara Street. Construction on the 320-unit project has begun.

``The loan closing speaks for itself,'' said Lesley Love, vice president for Fremont. ``We believe in the underlying market fundamentals of San Jose. We think San Jose is the next candidate for what we've seen in other markets.''

Mike Kriozere, who paid $28.6 million for 1.5 acres of prime property in June, agrees. Saying he is not fazed by declining numbers in either sales or builder surveys, Kriozere prepared to write a $130,000 check Monday for city-imposed fees on his high-rise 670-unit development, City Front Square.

``Everybody is talking about a big housing slowdown, but this is a community that is completely, totally 100 percent under-served in this product,'' said Kriozere, of Urban West Associates.

``If you live in Santa Clara County and you've got money, what's your choice? A lot of people don't want a 5,000- or 6,000-square-foot house in Woodside.''

While he does not yet have the financing for the two towers of 670 units, estimated to cost $300 million, he is confident he'll secure a loan. When that happens, he hopes to push the start date for construction from the end of 2007 to spring next year.

``We're on track,'' Kriozere said. ``We're not slower, we're trying to make it go faster.''

Condos for sale

Chicago-based Mesa Development just opened its West Coast office in San Jose and named Rick Friedman, formerly of eBay, to run it. As development manager, Friedman will oversee the sales office for 360 Residences, a 22-story condo project at 360 S. Market St., at the corner of San Salvador Street, scheduled to open in January. Mesa also announced that it will build 360 Residences with Kimball Hill Homes.

And Barry Swenson Builder is hoping to finish construction on City Heights, a 16-story, 124-unit development on San Pedro Street next spring, even as the company considers converting Vendome Place from apartments to condominiums. The first phase of Vendome is just 76 units, but the entire development calls for 500.

``One of the differences between San Jose and other markets is there's not an overabundance of condos. If you go to Las Vegas and Miami, they've been building a mass amount of condos for some time,'' said Jessie Thielen, a development project manager for Barry Swenson Builder.

Barry Swenson Builder, the first to offer San Jose a high-rise project, is taking ``tons of calls'' from buyers, Thielen said. ``It's the product that the San Jose buyer is looking for.''

John Weiss, the city's redevelopment deputy director, is not surprised that developers are moving ahead in San Jose.

``We're beginning to have job growth -- the most encouraging in five years,'' Weiss said. ``My observation is that there certainly is a substantial slowdown in Southern California and on the East Coast, but they were substantially overbuilt.''

To keep the fires going, the city is considering whether to extend the incentive program, begun in 2004, that waived the affordable housing component.

``If we stop where we are today, we end up with four projects and about 1,000 units. We really need 5,000 units, and we'd love to do 10,000,'' said Joe Horwedel, the city's interim planning director. ``Should it be a period of time or a number of units? Our goal is to get units downtown. We want that high-rise market to be really strong.''

While some preliminary proposals have stalled, other developers are forging ahead and even scouting around for more sites to build. Meanwhile, the city is grappling with another question: How much housing is too much?

Housing deficit

The Bay Area has a housing deficit that is expected to worsen as the economy improves. According to the Association of Bay Area Governments, the shortfall is expected to reach more than 150,000 units by 2010, while Santa Clara County is expected to generate 95,000 jobs in 2006 and 2007. Yet the city also has an obligation to provide places to work.

KT Properties proposes to build a high-rise on another site downtown at Market and Santa Clara streets that San Jose had eyed for a BART station/office tower.

``We're having a debate: Are there sites worth preserving for office rather than residential?'' Horwedel said. ``How do you balance a BART portal to accommodate a major investment in downtown? Do you say `no' to somebody ready to go, in favor of someone who could take another 15 years? We're taking that question to the city council in the next month or so.''

San Jose may not have BART, but Paul Zieger, president of Pacific Marketing Associates and a spokesman for Axis, Tower 88 on Second Street and City Heights, said the city has plenty of other attractions.

``They have a hockey team, light-rail system, a children's museum, an adult museum, the symphony -- all these things that most cities get after everybody moves into downtown. It's a suburban community supported by a rich business community,'' he said.

The true test, however, is how quickly the units sell once they hit the market. And for high-rises, which take 20 to 24 months to build, that's still a year or two away.
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Old Posted Sep 1, 2006, 3:46 AM
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SJ will really be changing over the next few years. If the office market ever gets going look out.
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Old Posted Sep 1, 2006, 6:44 AM
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SJ will really be changing over the next few years. If the office market ever gets going look out.
There's good news. See http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=114432
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Old Posted Sep 1, 2006, 6:52 AM
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That's a great PDF. Question though, what's up with those single family houses between 280 and the Convention Center? Will that be rezoned once these lots start to fill up? It seems odd to have those houses caught in between the freeway and some nice new towers.
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Old Posted Sep 1, 2006, 10:46 AM
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There used to be twice as many of those single-family homes (although I think most are apartment houses these days) in that area before they built the convention center via eminent domain. I remember driving on the streets there, lined with such homes, after I had read they would disappear--just so I'd remember the old downtown SJ. I was a teenager then, living a few miles west, but I do remember the old downtown SJ. I hope they don't rip out the remaining blocks of homes, if only for history's sake.
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Old Posted Sep 1, 2006, 6:18 PM
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fflint: If I'm thinking about the same area aren't those houses just some boring old single story suburban style homes? BTW, what was OLD downtown SJ like?
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"This will not be known as the Times Square of the West," City Council President Alex Padilla declared last week. "Times Square will be known as the L.A. Live of the East."

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Old Posted Sep 2, 2006, 12:22 AM
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A number of interesting articles in this week's SF Business Times and I'll try to post them Sunday evening when they become available on the web site.

Among them:

- Pat Kuleto is breaking ground on a pair of $10 million restaurants in Rincon Park (that's the gravely vacant space on the Embarcadero across from the Gap Building). One will be called Waterbar, run by Mark Franz of Farallon, feature floor to ceiling aquaria and sell "exotic fish that has been responsibly harvested or farmed". The other will be called Epic Roasthouse, be run by Jan Birnbaum (once head xchef at Campton Place), and sell grass-fed beefsteaks, Kobe beef and Argentine steaks. Also on-site will be food kiosks selling to go items for people to eat while sitting out along the Embarcadero.

- Eddie DeBartolo (!!) is taking over development rights for the cruise ship terminal project from lend Lease of Australia.

- "Oakland's condo mania is now single-family home frenzy" discusses plans for 816 houses at the Oakland Naval Hospital site and another 61 houses ranging up to $2.5 million on a site bounded by I-580, Lake Chabot Golf Course and Knowland Park.

- UC Berkeley is about to open Stanley Hall, a 285,000 square foot, $162 million building which is to be part of the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research, a partnership between Berkeley, UCSF and UC Santa Cruz. UCSF's contribution to the Institute is Byers Hall, a building at the Mission Bay Campus.
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Old Posted Sep 2, 2006, 7:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BTinSF
A number of interesting articles in this week's SF Business Times and I'll try to post them Sunday evening when they become available on the web site.

Among them:

- Pat Kuleto is breaking ground on a pair of $10 million restaurants in Rincon Park (that's the gravely vacant space on the Embarcadero across from the Gap Building). One will be called Waterbar, run by Mark Franz of Farallon, feature floor to ceiling aquaria and sell "exotic fish that has been responsibly harvested or farmed". The other will be called Epic Roasthouse, be run by Jan Birnbaum (once head xchef at Campton Place), and sell grass-fed beefsteaks, Kobe beef and Argentine steaks. Also on-site will be food kiosks selling to go items for people to eat while sitting out along the Embarcadero.

- Eddie DeBartolo (!!) is taking over development rights for the cruise ship terminal project from lend Lease of Australia.
It'll be truly interesting to see how folks (Read the NIMBY Brigade and the Bay Guardian 'Progressive' types) react to DeBartolo taking over such a crucial development project.
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Old Posted Sep 3, 2006, 5:39 AM
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Nvidia in talks to move to S.J. tower
DOWNTOWN BUILDING REMAINS VACANT AFTER FOUR YEARS
By Katherine Conrad
Mercury News
John Sobrato confirmed Friday he is negotiating with chip maker Nvidia to move its headquarters from Santa Clara to his downtown San Jose office tower, vacant now for four years.

Negotiations began about four months ago, Sobrato said, because the leading graphics chip maker is outgrowing its 500,000-square-foot Santa Clara campus.

The two sides, however, remain far apart on what could be a billion-dollar deal.

``They need space and we have an existing relationship,'' Sobrato said. ``As you might guess, we've made them a very aggressive proposal. But they have so many less-expensive suburban options.''

Sobrato should know. With 9.5 million square feet of commercial real estate across the South Bay, Sobrato Development is Silicon Valley's largest owner of commercial real estate. Nvidia, which just leased an additional 47,000 square feet across the street from its headquarters, is one of Sobrato's tenants, as are Apple Computer, Advanced Micro Devices, Applied Biosystems and Yahoo.

``We have not made any decisions in regards to new office space. We are evaluating several alternatives,'' said Nvidia spokeswoman Calisa Cole.

Nvidia, which has 3,000 employees worldwide, will be the last maker of stand-alone graphics chips for personal computers once AMD completes its acquisition of Canada's ATI Technologies. The company's chips command the highest prices in the highest-end gaming computers now. Nvidia also designed the RSX, the graphics chip in the upcoming Sony PlayStation 3 video game console.

If the chip maker is looking for a downtown high-rise for its headquarters, the 380,000-square-foot Sobrato building is the only game in town.

Sobrato planned it that way when he broke ground on the 17-story tower in 2000, just as the torrid commercial real estate market had hit its peak. And he remains determined to wait for a single tenant to take the entire building. He said the 7-million-square-foot downtown office market with its 22 percent vacancy rate already has plenty of smaller spaces, including the 60,000 square feet recently vacated by Knight Ridder.

Other large spaces on the scale of the tower on Almaden Boulevard, however, do not exist in downtown San Jose.

``It's been four years since we built that thing. Our timing was awful in early 2001 -- that's when the Internet bubble burst,'' he said. ``That's been part of our problem. And it's an expensive building, but we've been willing to be aggressive on rents.''

Asking rents for full-service, Class A office space downtown are about $2.50 a square foot per month, but Sobrato said, ``We're well below that.''

The developer would not disclose the financial terms of a downtown deal, but a 15-year lease at the current asking rate of $1.95 a square foot a month for the Almaden tower would be valued at almost $1.4 billion. A lease in a suburban location would be about two-thirds that amount.

The developer said he is considering appealing to the city's redevelopment agency to determine whether San Jose could make up the difference.

Nancy Klein, the city's economic development manager in charge of commercial real estate, would not speculate about how the city would react to such a request. While she said it's important to the city both psychologically and financially for the building to have a tenant, she does not believe the city would be willing to subsidize a company's move to downtown when the construction is already complete. In the mid-1990s, San Jose subsidized Adobe Systems' downtown move with a $35 million grant and gave the same amount to the Fairmont Hotel.

Klein acknowledged, however, that the city is eager to see the tower at 488 Almaden Blvd. filled with workers.

``We have long desired to have another corporate entity name to invest in San Jose. That's a huge value to us to have a company along the ilk of an Adobe,'' Klein said.

Once the building is leased, San Jose's downtown office vacancy would drop from 22 percent to about 15 percent, according to Ritchie Commercial. The city would gain about 1,100 employees.

``We would get a whole lot of people in that building and on the street thinking about downtown housing, and we would get retail patrons,'' she said. ``This would make downtown hum and attract other additions to our daytime and nighttime pop.''

If the deal falls through, Sobrato said he will sit tight. He has resisted so far, plus he can afford to hold out, since his company built the $100 million glass-and-granite structure with its own cash.

``We're willing to wait,'' Sobrato said. ``The current thinking is we have the ability to do that and we probably will.''
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Old Posted Sep 3, 2006, 7:20 AM
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If Nvidia is in fact looking for new offices, it's a shame they haven't looked north to San Francisco. I think we can all think of an office tower they could occupy.

ahem...

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Old Posted Sep 3, 2006, 10:05 PM
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^yea, but if Sobrato is worried about his building being priced to high I doubt that Nvidia is even in Tishman Speyer's ballpark.
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Old Posted Sep 3, 2006, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by rocketman_95046
Nvidia in talks to move to S.J. tower
DOWNTOWN BUILDING REMAINS VACANT AFTER FOUR YEARS
By Katherine Conrad
Mercury News
John Sobrato confirmed Friday he is negotiating with chip maker Nvidia to move its headquarters from Santa Clara to his downtown San Jose office tower, vacant now for four years.
Here's the building Nvidia is negotiating to move into:

488 Almaden Blvd.
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Old Posted Sep 3, 2006, 11:27 PM
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If Nvidia is in fact looking for new offices, it's a shame they haven't looked north to San Francisco. I think we can all think of an office tower they could occupy.
Seriously, if they had any desire to be in SF, here's what they could do. The original plan for Foundry Square was to have buildings on all 4 corners at 4th & Howard. Two of the corners are presently built and the 3rd is now going up, the whole building leased to CIBC World Markets. The Southwest corner, however, remains a parking lot. I think the site is already entitled for the 4th building and I bet the developer (Equity Office) would be happy to put up the 4th building if they were sure it would be leased. It would look more or less like this (except each of the 4 buildings were to have different color panels--this one is reddish):

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Old Posted Sep 4, 2006, 6:01 PM
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DeBartolo back with deal for piers

The return of Eddie:

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DeBartolo back with deal for piers
Former 49ers owner set to take over $400M cruise terminal
San Francisco Business Times - September 1, 2006
by Eric Young

Former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. is poised to take over development of the city's new cruise ship terminal, despite the project's skyrocketing costs.

The current developer, Lend Lease Corp. of Australia, wants out of the project. Lend Lease defaulted in April on a $150,000 payment required by the Port of San Francisco to maintain exclusive negotiating rights on the $400 million deal on Piers 30-32. Port officials gave Lend Lease several months to find another developer interested in buying rights to the project, which includes an office building and a park.

Lend Lease said it decided to drop the project after estimates of retrofit work needed on the piers rose to $80 million from $40 million when it first got involved in the project several years ago. The sharp increase in cost is attributed to higher materials prices and continued deterioration of the piers.

But the higher price tag apparently is not scaring off DeBartolo
, who helped turn the 49ers into an NFL powerhouse that won five Super Bowls between 1981 and 1994.

A Lend Lease executive said the company is close to a deal with DeBartolo's real estate company to sell the development rights. "We essentially reached an agreement" with DeBartolo Development LLC, said Paul Osmundson, development director with Lend Lease Corp. Osmundson said Lend Lease has talked with several developers. But talks with DeBartolo, whose interest is "pretty strong," were the most advanced, he said. He declined to provide details of the agreement.

A DeBartolo spokesman did not respond to calls for comment.

With its roots in shopping mall development, DeBartolo Development is also involved in building community centers, mixed-use developments and grocery-anchored centers .

In 1997, DeBartolo turned control of the 49ers over to his sister, Denise DeBartolo York. At the time, federal prosecutors were probing DeBartolo's connection to an alleged extortion plot by the former Louisiana governor involving a riverboat casino license. DeBartolo pleaded guilty in 2000 to failing to report a felony, agreed to pay up to $1 million in fines and was placed on two years' probation.

Rising costs
Commissioners with the Port of San Francisco will meet Sept. 12. It is not yet known whether they will take action on the Piers 30-32 project. A spokeswoman said Port Executive Director Monique Moyer hasn't yet decided whether commissioners would simply be briefed on Lend Lease's efforts to sell development rights, or asked to vote on giving Lend Lease more time to negotiate its exit from the project.

The costs of fixing San Francisco's aging piers has bedeviled other projects.

Consider a proposed development on Piers 27-31. Shorenstein Properties, which wants to build office and recreational space there, estimates that the cost to repair and seismically upgrade the area has increased to between $60 million and $65 million. That is double the amount estimated by a previous developer, Mills Corp., which pulled out of the project amid neighborhood opposition.

At least one other development has been scuttled due to high costs. Last year, the International Museum of Women decided against locating on Pier 26. Board members of the nonprofit said costs of renovation proved higher than they expected.

Ongoing challenge
San Francisco's port, which controls much of the city's waterfront, lacks the money to fix its many rotting piers and other structures in need of repair. So port officials want to line up deals with developers willing to pay for infrastructure improvements before they bring new projects to the waterfront.

The port's interest in a new cruise ship terminal comes as the cruise ship industry in the city is expanding. San Francisco's cruise ship business has doubled since 2000 to about 80 dockings, bringing about $20 million to city coffers annually. A new cruise ship terminal would double the capacity of the current cruise ship terminal at Pier 35.

The development at Piers 30-32 is not just for a cruise terminal. The project also involves a new office complex and a park on Brannan Street. The first phase of the overall project, construction of a condominium tower, was completed this year. Eighty of the 135 condos have been sold.

Eric Young covers government for the San Francisco Business Times.

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfranci...ml?t=printable
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Old Posted Sep 4, 2006, 6:08 PM
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Kuleto sets new table

More food on the Embarcadero:

Quote:
Kuleto sets new table
Bold venture shocks S.F. restaurant vets
San Francisco Business Times - September 1, 2006
by Ryan Tate

Restaurateur Pat Kuleto and his partners have just finalized an unprecedented gamble, putting down $18 million on a new restaurant project in San Francisco.

Kuleto and his investors, including landlord JMA Ventures LLC, about two weeks ago began excavation for two large restaurants at Rincon Park, on the northeastern waterfront across from Gap Inc.'s downtown headquarters. A formal groundbreaking is scheduled next week.


It's the biggest-ticket new restaurant launch anyone can remember, and industry players regard the project with awe. Amid fast-rising labor costs, higher food prices and shrinking profit margins, Kuleto is doubling down on a game more and more top chef-owners are walking away from entirely: the fancy San Francisco restaurant.

"I don't know of any restaurateur who would have the cojones to do that," said Daniel Scherotter, owner and chef at Palio d'Asti in the financial district. "It runs counter to the trend of chefs opening restaurants that are low-labor, downscale. San Francisco has been shrinking in population and the (business customer) hasn't come back to the way it was."

The project has been on the drawing board for four years, following the scuttling of a previous deal on the same Port of San Francisco-owned parcel by restaurater Reed Hearon. Landlord JMA has a 60-year lease with the Port and has been making minimal ground lease payments over the past two years, payments that will grow after the restaurants are built and begin to make money.

Kuleto has a 25-year lease from JMA. JMA will spend about $8 million to construct the buildings, while Kuleto and his investors will spend $10 million on the interiors of the restaurants.

"I think you have to go to Las Vegas to see money spent with that level of aggressiveness," said Ed Levine, CEO of restaurant chain Left Bank and of an accounting company serving 40 Bay Area restaurants. "These are big budgets now, what are they going to be when they actually get done?"

Long history in the city
Kuleto is a 35-year veteran of San Francisco's restaurant scene, both as a designer and an entrepreneur. He has been involved with everything from the Fog City Diner to Postrio, and his own restaurant ventures include highly regarded eateries like Boulevard, Farallon and Jardiniére.

Kuleto is conservatively estimating just over $20 million in revenue for the first year for both Rincon Park restaurants combined.

But each restaurant has a peak capacity of about 200 diners, with the average dinner table expected to turn two-and-a-half times. Then there's the lunch business, where special menus for the business crowd indoors will be supplemented by sales through outdoor food kiosks Kuleto is planning. Entrees are in the $20-35 range, at least at dinner, and Levine said the average check could easily be around $80.

Those factors could push Kuleto's annual sales closer to $30 million.
It's not an unrealistic number given how well casual restaurants in the nearby Ferry Building have been doing. Charles Phan has built a $12-million-a-year business there with his 230-seat restaurant Slanted Door. Though most of his street-food entrees cost less than $20, Phan often sees his tables turning three times, even during lunch, plus brisk drinks business.

Other restaurants in the building do anywhere from $1,000 to $3,500 per square foot. For example, Traci Des Jardins' Mijita does more than $1 million per year out of 300 square feet; MarketBar does close to $6 million out of around 3,000 square feet.

Two visions
Kuleto's restaurants are each about 9,000 square feet, and serving pricier fare.

The seafood restaurant, Waterbar, will be run by Mark Franz of Farallon and anchored by floor-to-ceiling aquariums. Kuleto bills it as "the Monterey Bay Aquarium meets Tadich Grill," with exotic fish that has been responsibly harvested or farmed.

The meat restaurant, Epic Roasthouse, will be run by Jan Birnbaun, once head chef at Campton Place. Kuleto said dishes would include grass-fed beef steaks, Kobe beef and Argentine steak cuts. The upstairs bar is named Quiver, a nod to the nearby public art installation.

A large plaza will separate the two restaurants and Rincon Park will surround them.


"We see these as timeless, forever restaurants," Kuleto said. "I sort of looked at the crystal ball and tried to pick two things I felt would be an asset to the city."

Kuleto also wanted the restaurants to be completely distinct from one another -- and to not compete with his other restarants like Farallon or, particularly, Boulevard, which is just three blocks away.

Restaurant industry insiders said Kuleto's biggest problem won't be winning diners from competitors but controlling costs and earning enough on each check to turn a profit. Labor costs have spiked in restaurants thanks to San Francisco's minumum wage increase, which went into effect in 2004 and has been climbing each year since. Unlike New York and other states, California does not allow restaurants to credit tips toward workers' minimum wages, keeping costs for restaurant owners especially high.

Restaurateurs with more than 20 workers also face city-mandated health care spending for health care coverage starting at $1.06 per worker per hour. A ballot proposal would, if passed, also require restaurants and other businesses to offer each worker nine sick days per year, or six if they have less than 10 workers.

"People from other areas hear so much negativity about San Francisco, they don't want to open heavily capitalized restaurants in the area
," said Kevin Westlye, head of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, which just awarded Kuleto a lifetime achievement award. "So we celebrate when a local restaurateur wants to make an investment."

Kuleto said the scale of the new venture may be more of an asset than a liability.

"The restaurant industry is, unfortunately, being caught in the crossfire," Kuleto said of the city legislation. "The margins, frankly are somewhat smaller than they used to be, and you have to do pretty impressive volume, or you're dead."

Ryan Tate covers hospitality for the San Francisco Business Times.

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfranci...ml?t=printable
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Old Posted Sep 4, 2006, 6:13 PM
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Oakland's condo mania is now single-family home frenzy

Houses in Oakland:

Quote:
Oakland's condo mania is now single-family home frenzy
San Francisco Business Times - September 1, 2006
by Ryan Tate

After eight years of high-density, downtown condominium development, Oakland is seeing a return to single-family home construction.

The countertrend began with SunCal Cos.' plan for 816 homes, some in a stand-alone configuration, at the site of the former Oak Knoll naval hospital in the Oakland Hills. SunCal bought the 167-acre site for close to $101 million in November.

Now another landowner is peddling his own plan for 67 acres in the hills. Edward Patmont and his Chabot Dunsmuir LP would construct 61 single-family homes ranging from $900,000 to $2.5 million. They range in size from 2,100 to 4,610 square feet. The land is bounded by Interstate 580, Lake Chabot Golf Course and Knowland Park.


The development needs city approval for a subdivision of legal lots but falls within density allowed by existing zoning as well as allowed uses under the city's general plan.

The land and planned development, at 3421 Malcolm Ave., is for sale at $8.5 million through Gary Robinson of Coldwell Banker.

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  #18  
Old Posted Sep 4, 2006, 6:21 PM
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Cal's nano-bio center about to open its doors

New biomedical research institute going up at UC Berkeley and Mission Bay:

Quote:
Cal's nano-bio center about to open its doors
San Francisco Business Times - September 1, 2006
by Sarah Duxbury

The brave new world is almost here.

In January 2007, Berkeley's Stanley Hall is scheduled to open. The 285,000-square-foot, $162 million biosciences and bioengineering facility is Berkeley's contribution to QB3, the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research -- a partnership between the University of California, Berkeley; UCSF; and UC Santa Cruz.

Stanley is Berkeley's answer to Byers Hall, UCSF's QB3 home in Mission Bay. It will house about 40 research labs and up to 10 specialized core research support facilities like the Biomolecular Nanotechnology Center, as well as administrative offices and the bioengineering department.

QB3 is one of four California Institutes for Science and Innovation approved by then-Gov. Gray Davis to encourage scientists from a range of disciplines to collaborate and apply quantitative sciences like chemistry and engineering to biomedical sciences. The goal of the QB3 institute is to speed technology transfer to private industry.


The institute has an industrial advisory board of close to 20 private sector folks, each of whom pays an annual membership fee. QB3 doesn't do any proprietary work for these companies, though they do have ground-floor access to the research being conducted within the ivory tower, said Clayton Heathcock, chief scientist of QB3 Berkeley.

According to Heathcock, Berkeley and UCSF will each account for 40 percent of QB3's research and budget. At Berkeley, research will build on its core strengths of engineering and the physical sciences. Santa Cruz, known for its engineering and math faculty, will focus its research in those areas while UCSF's work will center around medicine.

Lab on a chip
Berkeley's Biomolecular Nano technology Center is where biology and nanotechnology collide. It will occupy 11,000 square feet of Stanley Hall and do work that has strong chances of transferring to the private sector.

Like its Silicon Valley forebears, BNC will manufacture chips. These, however, are designed for biochemical and medical applications
, like disease detection at the cellular level, something that is currently impossible.

"It's using the technology of Silicon Valley to make tiny reactors, a lab on a chip, where we can carry out chemical analysis and biochemical analysis on chips like in your cell phone or computer," Heathcock said.

The engineers in the center will know how to design and make such chips; the biologists will know how to use them.

For example, the work could include tracking how a protein changes in a cell, thereby allowing scientists to detect cancer years before they can through existing methods.

"Now, technicians are looking at cancer cells, which means you already have cancer and you're counting it," said Luke Lee, director of the BNC. "Instead, can you develop a sensor to detect early conditions of cancer patients a few years before, so you can get preventive treatment?"

All this happens at the biomolecular level, and Lee said it has huge implications in terms of the future of preventive and personalized medicine. Technology coming out of BNC could be used to build home diagnostic systems that are less expensive and faster than current medical techniques.

Lee said that his lab will be the first that is custom-designed to do this kind of research.

Applied Biosystems, Intel and Samsung are some of the companies that, before the center has even opened, BNC is talking to.

Lee is also turning to industry to raise the $10 million he needs to equip his lab. Fundraising is underway. Lee declined to say how much he has already raised, but said that he needs at least $6 million to get the center running.

Lee is not alone in raising money to outfit his lab.

Davis approved QB3's mandate and provided sufficient funds to build its buildings on the three campuses, but not to operate them, Heathcock said. The state provdes just $1 million to run Stanley Hall, and Heathcock estimates the actual cost will reach $4 million annually. An anonymous donor has pledged $1 million a year; the school must fundraise for the other $2 million it needs each year.

Collaborative power
QB3 and Stanley Hall were founded on the principle of multi-disciplinary collaboration.

"We're seeing a new kind of scientist being born ... becoming a generalist instead of a specialist," Heathcock said. "That's what this new building is about, bringing the different disciplines together again."

The same collaboration is happening on a smaller scale in the BNC.

BNC will serve more than 30 faculty from the departments of molecular and cell biology, chemistry, physics, bioengineering, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering. Over 100 Ph.D. students will also work there.

"We're not only in the process of creating the basic science and engineering tools to lay the foundation of a new industry, but also train the people who will be the workers in that industry," Heathcock said.

And Heathcock and Lee both have high hopes that biomolecular nanotechnology is a nascent industry.

"I think this nanobiology, which is at the intersection of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area biotech alley, can become its own industry. It can spawn new companies just like Silicon Valley and the biotech community have," Heathcock said. "When they invented the integrated circuit chip, they were not sure what they would use them for. We're at the same juncture for the bionanotechnology area."

Sarah Duxbury is a staff writer for the San Francisco Business Times.

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  #19  
Old Posted Sep 6, 2006, 3:44 AM
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Small sports arena possible addition to Candlestick Point development
Phillip Matier & Andrew Ross

Wednesday, September 6, 2006
The San Francisco 49ers and their building partners are wrapping up a long-awaited megaplan for a new, 68,000-seat stadium at Candlestick Point -- as well as a possible last-minute addition, a 12,000- seat arena.

"It is part of the uses being considered,'' said Adam Alberti, spokesman for Lennar Corp., which is handling a development that the 49ers also envision including housing, stores and a hotel.

Chances are slim that an arena with 12,000 seats would be big enough to attract the Golden State Warriors basketball team or any other major sports franchise. The Oakland Arena, where the Warriors play, has 20,000 seats, and San Jose's HP Pavilion holds 17,000 for the Sharks hockey team. Even the ancient Cow Palace in neighboring Daly City has a bigger capacity than the Niners' arena would.

But Lennar thinks a midsize venue could be just the ticket for second-tier sports such as indoor soccer and arena football, along with big-name musical acts and other entertainment.

The idea is to bring people out to Candlestick Point on more than just the 10 days or so per year that the Niners play there and to put cars into a massive garage that the team would build.

In other words, the idea is to make money year-round.

In addition, Lennar is negotiating with Forest City Enterprises -- builder of the downtown Bloomingdale's development -- to develop the retail portions of the Candlestick Point project.

"No doubt there is going to be a significant commercial partner in this venture, and Forest City would be a great addition and capable partner, but no agreements are in place,'' Alberti said.

Lisa Lang, spokeswoman for the 49ers, would say only that the team was awaiting a final feasibility study from Lennar. "The hope is we are close,'' she said.

But she cautioned that "there are still some areas that we have to work through, and we are waiting for these issues to be resolved.''

Lang also put some distance between the team and the arena scheme, saying it's "just an idea, and it isn't really connected to the Niners.''

But she did not rule out the possibility that the team could lease the arena if Niners owners John and Denise York exercise their rights to an Arena Football League team -- something on which the couple have put a down payment.

Word of the arena bubbled up when Lennar added the idea to a poll it commissioned to test the Candlestick plan with San Francisco voters.

In addition to the arena, the plan outlined in the poll included a 68,000-seat football stadium, 6,000 units of housing, and open space and parks -- all to be "privately financed," with an eye toward using the sports venues for the 2016 Olympics, should San Francisco win the Games.

If the Games come here, the stadium would temporarily be expanded to 75,000 to 80,000 seats -- the minimum required to host the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as track-and-field events.

While he declined to give details, Alberti said the poll of more than 400 registered voters was "quite encouraging for the land plan and the private financing of the stadium.''

Given that public land would be involved in the deal, however, the exact meaning of "privately financed" is open to interpretation.

Lang said the Yorks were ready to put "hundreds of millions'' of their own money into the deal. Any tax increment financing, which allows a public agency to issue bonds to help finance development and to repay the debt with new real estate taxes generated by the growth, would go toward infrastructure improvements in the area, Lang said.

The Niners are also counting on the city providing land for the stadium and development rights to surrounding Candlestick Point -- terms that voters approved in 1997 as part of a now-discarded stadium-mall deal.

Michael Cohen, who has been helping direct the development from the mayor's office, said the Niners' plan would satisfy the city's goals of creating jobs in the Bayview, adding affordable housing and providing a "tremendous" waterfront park.

As for signs that the housing market is starting to weaken -- even across the channel at the old Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, where Lennar is developing 1,600 units of housing -- Cohen insisted that wasn't a factor.

"The notion that the economics won't support these projects is just wrong,'' Cohen said, noting that the 6,000 units of housing in the Niners' project would be phased in over several years.

Testing the voters' appetite was one of the last pieces of business before the Niners and Lennar go public with their plan, which could be any day now.

"People wanted to feel comfortable about what they were undertaking before they ran off and showed it to the world,'' Lennar spokesman Alberti said.

However, he emphasized, "It's a draft plan, and it's subject to change.''

Mayor Gavin Newsom has said that any revision of the 1997 stadium-mall plan would probably have to go back to the voters, but our sources say the 49ers still hope to avoid that.

"We need to look at the final proposal and make a determination at that point,'' Lang said.

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  #20  
Old Posted Sep 6, 2006, 4:00 AM
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right on! now we won't have to shelp to oakland or san jose to see big time musical acts! let's hope they finish it before madonna retires. i want to see her live on SAN FRANCISCO soil.
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