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  #1941  
Old Posted Nov 7, 2008, 1:27 PM
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I'm putting this here because the changes will apparently involve significant alteration to the building as well as what's inside:

Quote:
Friday, November 7, 2008
Metreon’s new lease on life: Culture, food
San Francisco Business Times - by Sarah Duxbury


Second time lucky? Metreon to get a makeover after struggling for years.

Nearly three years after purchasing the troubled Metreon complex, Westfield and Forest City have settled on a plan for its rebirth.

Sources briefed by the developers say that food and culture rather than retail will drive the reconfigured four-story building. Opened in 1999, it first symbolized the optimism of the dot-com era in San Francisco — and later, its ultimate disappointment.

Building on the cultural density of the Yerba Buena neighborhood — within two blocks are more than a dozen cultural institutions, ranging from SFMOMA to the Cartoon Art Museum— most of the second floor will be converted for cultural uses like museums or performing arts. Meanwhile, the ground floor will feature more than a dozen food options, from standalone restaurants with entrances on Fourth Street to smaller 500-square-foot kiosks like those found in San Francisco Centre’s basement food court. Some of those spaces could end up as retail.

“They are focused on doing something that is really quite unconventional for one of the largest mall operators in the world,” said Julie Taylor, a broker with Cornish & Carey. “The merchandising plan is completely driven by fabulous local concepts, whether that means art, restaurants or retail, and particularly the restaurant operators who are entrepreneurial and local and now oriented to the exterior, making the property engage the street in a much more appealing way than it has in the past.”

The successful AMC movie theater will remain on the third floor; New York’s Tavern on the Green has taken the entire fourth floor, where next summer it will open a 27,000-square-foot restaurant with a 13,000-square-foot terrace.

“These new concepts and ideas will complement the nearby cultural and entertainment activities and increase interest in the complex,” Heather Almond, senior asset manager, Westfield San Francisco Properties, said by email, declining to discuss specifics of the plan or its timing.

The whole project includes about 165,000 square feet of new retail space to lease; the four-story building is 350,000 square feet. “It’s not common to see this much space come to market at once,” Taylor said.

The building itself will see significant changes, including a new main entrance on Fourth Street. The building will also face outward more; restaurants along Fourth Street will have entrances onto the street, and the building will better incorporate the park at its back. With new glass façades on the first two floors, the Metreon will feel much more transparent.

The proposed changes will likely go before the redevelopment commission in December and construction could begin shortly thereafter.

“The Metreon is a property that has not lived up to its potential, and we’re excited about the investment Westfield is making and the very great expertise they bring to retail, and especially downtown retail,” said Amy Neches of the Redevelopment Agency. “I think this will be a successful repositioning of an important asset.”

Several interested tenants have signed letters of intent or are at different stages of negotiations, but nothing is yet final. Brokers all agree that, in this economic environment, until the ink is dry, no deal is guaranteed.

“The building was developed with an inward orientation, and I don’t think it ever worked,” said Carol Gilbert, a broker with CGI. “Westfield is spending a great deal of money to make it work.”

The area doesn’t want for traffic. Taylor estimated that up to 4,000 pedestrians walk past the corner of Fourth and Mission every hour. The sheer number of museums, the nearby convention center and the growing number of hotels clustering South of Market all make the area highly desirable.

The critical mass of museums around there are also a draw to tourists and locals alike.

“They are working hard and thinking outside the box to fill space in a vertical project that addresses entertainment, food and the growing cultural center of the area … I say that SoMa now stands for ‘sort of museum area,’” said Matt Holmes, principal at Retail West.

“I don’t think apparel would be successful down there, so you need to go with another kind of entertainment and cultural mix,” Holmes added, citing the power of the San Francisco Centre and Union Square to the north. “I think they’re really focused on that.”

And food, as it so often is, could be the trick necessary to draw locals into the Metreon at last.

sduxbury@bizjournals.com / (415) 288-4963
Source: http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/...ml?t=printable
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  #1942  
Old Posted Nov 7, 2008, 4:39 PM
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Quote:
The building itself will see significant changes, including a new main entrance on Fourth Street. The building will also face outward more; restaurants along Fourth Street will have entrances onto the street, and the building will better incorporate the park at its back. With new glass façades on the first two floors, the Metreon will feel much more transparent.

...

“The building was developed with an inward orientation, and I don’t think it ever worked,” said Carol Gilbert, a broker with CGI. “Westfield is spending a great deal of money to make it work.”
This is music to my ears. This building not only ignores the street long Fourth and Mission, it practically gives it the finger. Just improving the interaction with the sidewalks would make a huge difference to the businesses inside, IMO. While not as bad, the entrances into the park can certainly be improved as well. Can't wait to see actual renderings, but it sounds good so far.
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  #1943  
Old Posted Nov 7, 2008, 5:36 PM
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I'm guessing the same can be said for the other (and much more iconic) former AT&T building on New Montgomery. I know they had grand plans to convert it to condos, but I doubt anything will happen with that for several years.
On the other hand, there is a chance they will move forward. From yesterday's Examiner:

Quote:
Board approves changes to old AT&T location
By Katie Worth
Examiner Staff Writer 11/6/08


SAN FRANCISCO – As legend has it, the first transatlantic telephone call from the West Coast was made from the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph office at New Montgomery and Howard streets, and the man to pick up the phone on the other end was Winston Churchill.

But telephones are no longer the business at the striking 1925 art deco skyscraper in SoMa. The building has been vacant since 2007, when a developer bought the terra-cotta structure and Pacific Telephone’s descendent, AT&T, moved out to make way for 118 luxury condominiums.

The project — which the developer says will cost more than building a similar project from the ground up — will require gutting the interior of the building to allow for seismic improvements and the conversion from offices to condos, said Tom Sullivan of San Francisco development firm Wilson Meany Sullivan. The outside of the terra-cotta building will be mostly preserved, though its steel-framed windows — now rusty and leaky — will be replaced, he said.

Despite these drastic changes, the project received a nod of approval Wednesday from the Landmarks Preservation Board. The project could receive final approval from the Planning Commission within a month, Sullivan said.

“We will be losing a lot,” board member Courtney Damkroger said, adding she would like to see the building designated a historical landmark as a way of preserving part of its past.

Sullivan said the project should progress despite the stagnant economy. Developers are having trouble finding financing, but, he said, if the financial markets loosen up in the coming months there should be no problem going ahead and finding buyers for the extremely high-end units.

“The upper end of the market is less affected by the current ups and downs with the economy,” Sullivan said. “It’s one of the finest buildings in The City. There’s no other building like it and there never will be another building like it in The City.”
Here are a couple of photos of this magnificent building:


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  #1944  
Old Posted Nov 8, 2008, 1:30 AM
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They've started on the new facade of One Kearny:
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  #1945  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2008, 5:05 PM
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There's a notice on the current building for a hearing today at 1:30 to discuss the demolition of the existing building and construction of this one to replace it. At least the bureaucratic part of the process is moving forward.
This is 110 The Embarcadero. It was approved by the planning commission. Next up, the Board of Supervisors. According to an article in Saturday's Chronicle, that's not necessarily a slam-dunk:

Quote:
Debate on plan for greenest West Coast building
Robert Selna, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, November 8, 2008


A world-class architect who promises to build the West Coast's greenest commercial building on San Francisco's Embarcadero has nonetheless raised the hackles of some residents and city officials.

They say the building is too tall for the city's majestic shoreline and might set a bad precedent for future development along the boulevard.

The plan by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects was backed by the city's Planning Commission this week on a 4-3 vote, but city planners, architecture critics and some neighbors say they wish the 123-foot, 10-story building could conform to the waterfront's 84-foot height limits. "The city's general plan says buildings can go to 84 feet on the waterfront so you don't just start granting exceptions just because it's a green building," said Planning Commission President Christina Olague, who voted against the project.

Project developers say a big chunk of the structure's estimated $58 million price tag is the result of its predicted Platinum environmental rating - the best score granted by the U.S. Green Building Council. The extra height would create more rentable space, helping to pay for the added costs of making the building green, they say.

The project also needs approval from the Board of Supervisors, which generally supports green building practices, but has been known to reject commission recommendations when citizens raise concerns.

Planning Commissioner Michael Antonini, who favored the plan, said an exception should be made for the building because it is unique and shows San Francisco's nascent commitment to green building. The building is not large given its high cost, he said.

"I don't see this setting a precedent down there," Antonini said. "It's a building that will someday be a landmark and when people see it from the bay or the bridge, it will be a beacon for green tech building in the city."

Dubbed 110 The Embarcadero, the building would replace a long vacant two-story structure. It would stand next to the Audiffred Building, a three-story brick landmark from 1889 at the corner of The Embarcadero and Mission Street, which houses Boulevard Restaurant.

Seven other buildings share the block, including the beloved brick 1924 YMCA building, which is nearly as tall as the proposed 110 The Embarcadero. Skyscrapers loom just a couple of blocks to the east and to the north and south.

As it stands, 110 The Embarcadero would include a host of green characteristics, including solar panels, recycled wood and a wastewater recycling system. Its marquee feature would be "living" exterior walls in which planters on each floor would hold a mix of vines trained to create a net of foliage.

Chronicle architecture critic John King said the building could be "the most exquisite addition to the waterfront since the Embarcadero Freeway came down in 1991." But King described its height as "clumsy," recommending that it be lowered one or two stories.

The city Planning Department welcomes the building's innovations, but also has concerns about its height and recommended that the commission disapprove the project.

"There was a concern about supporting a parcel-specific change in height without looking at broader impacts of that change to urban form," said city planner Kevin Guy. "The compatibility of the building on a block that is smaller in scale and fronting The Embarcadero was a consideration."

Paul Paradis, an executive at Hines, a development firm, said only five commercial buildings exist in the United States with a Platinum rating, and none is on the West Coast.

"We think there are companies out there that will want to have their business in a green Platinum building and we want to bring that building to the market," Paradis said. "Right now if a company really wants to show its commitment to the environment by locating in the most green building that can be built, it has no options."
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  #1946  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2008, 1:37 PM
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Friday, November 14, 2008
Market turning flashy S.F. condos into rentals
San Francisco Business Times - by J.K. Dineen

For months, observers of San Francisco’s condo industry have been wondering when the Anka Property Group would start selling units at the Argenta, the handsome new tower at One Polk St. completed in September.

Now the answer is clear: no time soon. Instead, the Australian developer has listed the entire Civic Center property for sale with Cushman & Wakefield and is marketing it as a rental building. Offers were due on Nov. 11.

The 17-story structure is one of a number of San Francisco condo projects that are going rental — or considering going rental — at a time when the apartment market remains strong but condo prices are declining. Another condo development, the 52-unit Artani at 818 Van Ness Ave., has been advertising units as both condos and rentals in recent weeks. At 1401 Market St., Crescent Heights is planning apartments rather than condos in a two-tower project approved 18 months ago for 720 units. Crescent Heights attorney Tim Tosta, a partner with Luce Forward, said the units are being redesigned to better fit the rental market.

The choice of whether to gamble with a dismal housing sales market or go rental and wait for a recovery is a decision many developers are facing, according to Paul Zeger, president of Pacific Marketing Associates.

“Anybody who has not closed a unit yet has to be looking at going rental,” said Zeger, “If the retail value as condos is not enough to pay off the bank and return the equity of the developer then going rental is a way to preserve equity and provide a return for investors.”

But it’s not an easy transition. Developers looking to switch to apartments either have to refinance their debt for several more years or find new lenders willing to step in.

“You have to be confident or patient enough that you can wait until the market recovery is in place,” he said.

As a rental property, the Argenta could command a premium because of location and design, said Zeger. The 179-unit tower is expected to fetch between $75 million and $80 million, or between $400,000 and $450,000 a unit. That is significantly less than the $100 million or so that industry observers estimate Anka spent on land acquisition, construction and entitlement fees.

Officials from Anka did not return several calls seeking comment.

A marked slowdown in the start of new condo projects suggests that there will be little new inventory in 2010 and 2011. That may provide a nice opportunity for high-quality apartment buildings originally intended for condos.

“I think it will eventually go condo — everything you see right now that is going rental will come back,” Zeger said.

jkdineen@bizjournals.com / (415) 288-4971
Source: http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/...7/story15.html
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  #1947  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2008, 1:40 PM
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Friday, November 14, 2008
S.F. General marshals its construction troops
San Francisco Business Times - by Chris Rauber

Now that San Francisco voters have overwhelmingly approved an $887.4 million bond issue to rebuild San Francisco General Hospital, the safety net hospital is wasting no time in moving ahead with preparations for the massive project.

Gene O’Connell, S.F. General’s longtime chief executive officer, said a Nov. 20 San Francisco Planning Commission hearing will be “the final step” in the environmental impact report and permitting process for the roughly 442,000-square-foot, 284-bed rebuild.

The hospital, run by the San Francisco Department of Public Health, is making plans to start preliminary elements of construction early next year. Several trailers that house health-care programs in the vicinity of 23rd Street and Potrero Avenue will be removed to make room for a temporary parking lot, O’Connell said. Early work digging up old underground utilities could begin by next March, and certainly by late spring.

Groundbreaking and more significant construction are slated to start in the fall of 2009. Officials expect the new structure to be open for business by January 2015.

Hospital officials also are preparing to submit an application to state regulators asking for a two-year extension on meeting state seismic deadlines, from January 2013 to 2015.

Without such an extension, hospitals are expected to meet an early 2013 requirement to rebuild or retrofit any inpatient structures that don’t meet California’s hospital seismic safety laws. To gain an extension, a hospital must prove it has a seismic plan well under way.

Other upcoming milestones include the second phase of a design review, scheduled for January, and various submissions due to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development beginning in January, according to a timeline created by Ron Alameda, the Department of Public Works’ project manager for the San Francisco General rebuild. OSHPD is in charge of monitoring hospital construction projects and compliance with seismic safety requirements.

Although the current financial crisis has affected construction plans for a number of hospitals locally and nationwide, O’Connell and other city officials don’t expect it to disturb their plans to float bonds for the project.

Once the Nov. 4 election results are certified, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approves the bond issue and authorizes the spending it supports, city finance experts will try to “time the market” to get the best interest rates they can.

If need be, they can use other financial instruments, such as so-called bond anticipation notes or BANs, to fund early -stage construction.

One insider said the city will likely go out for about $100 million in phase one bonds, enough to pay for much of the early construction, noting that “by January, we expect the (bond) market to look much better.”

Overall costs for the rebuild are likely to top $1 billion, and could exceed $1.7 billion, including bond financing charges.

Officials are buoyed by an August boost to San Francisco’s credit rating by Moody’s Investors Service. As a result of that move and the Nov. 4 election returns supporting the project, “we’re all a little bit more optimistic” about having a successful bond issue, O’Connell said.

crauber@bizjournals.com / (415) 288-4946
Source: http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/...7/story19.html
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  #1948  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2008, 5:48 PM
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At 1401 Market St., Crescent Heights is planning apartments rather than condos in a two-tower project approved 18 months ago for 720 units. Crescent Heights attorney Tim Tosta, a partner with Luce Forward, said the units are being redesigned to better fit the rental market.
First news we've heard on that in a long time. Perhaps it will actually start someday. At least there is a possible path toward starting on it.
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  #1949  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2008, 6:01 PM
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A few of updates from the last couple of weeks, notably 45 Lansing and 10th/Market.

In Progress/Complete
301 Mission - tower and midrise exteriors basically complete; interiors and grounds under construction

One Rincon Hill phase 1 - tower complete; townhomes and landscaping approaching completion

555 Mission - complete; finishing plaza and interior

Infinity - tower 1 and townhomes complete; tower 2 exterior complete; courtyard nearing completion

631 Folsom - facade largely complete, interior, ground level and landscaping in progress

One Hawthorne - under construction; pouring at street level; rebar up to first/second level

Trinity - under construction; last I checked they were working on level 12


Proposed/Still Alive
Transbay Tower - Hines deal approved; awaiting final approval of height zoning changes; I'm just hoping Hines doesn't back out with this economy.

350 Mission - expected to start in 2009; I'm dubious

45 Lansing - Turnberry sold 50% stake to Group 24; excavation due to begin Q1 2009; project should take 30 months to complete

10th and Market (Crescent Heights) - interior being redesigned for apartments rather than condos; timing unknown


On Hold/Dead
One Rincon Hill phase 2 - on hold

535 Mission - on hold; excavation complete; piles driven and being sealed for the wait until construction starts again

The Californian (375 Fremont) - Fifield is trying to sell their development entitlements; basically dead for now

340-350 Fremont - Peebles is trying to sell their development entitlements; basically dead for now

350 Bush - was supposed to be delivered in 2009; entitled through 2010; nothing is happening onsite; I think it's on hold/dead, but no official statement to that effect
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Last edited by peanut gallery; Nov 14, 2008 at 6:18 PM. Reason: formatting
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  #1950  
Old Posted Dec 3, 2008, 9:18 AM
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An observant tipster notices the application to demolish the Thai House Restaurant on the corner of Market and 15th streets (2200-2210 Market to be exact).

As proposed, the single story restaurant and surface area parking lot would become a ground floor restaurant and retail with 22 residential units above in 5 stories along Market, 4 stories along 15th, and with 12 parking spaces beneath (including one for car share).

Unfortunately that's about all we know about this project, but perhaps a plugged-in reader can provide the scoop on what could be an example of the Market-Octavia Plan in action.
Source: http://www.socketsite.com/
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  #1951  
Old Posted Dec 3, 2008, 6:12 PM
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In 2004 Forest City Development was awarded the Presidio’s Public Health Service Hospital project to redevelop the long abandoned and graffiti filled building into apartments.

The non-historic wings of Building 1801 will be removed together with other non-historic buildings and additions. Up to 133,000 sf will be demolished and new construction consisting of up 35,000 sf at the rear of Building 1801 and a 16,000 square-foot building on Belles Street on the “central green” west of the Wyman Avenue residences may occur. Up to 186 dwelling units will be provided in combination with approximately 76,000 sf of other uses, including offices and cultural/education. More than half of the proposed dwelling units will be studio and 1-bedroom units, which are in highest demand for Presidio-based employees.
And on Friday, Forest City officially breaks ground on 154 units.
Source: http://www.socketsite.com/
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  #1952  
Old Posted Dec 4, 2008, 7:21 PM
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San Francisco - Trinity Plaza progress (foreground construction), December 4th, 2008, in infrared, taken from my window, 27th floor of the Archstone Fox Plaza.

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  #1953  
Old Posted Dec 4, 2008, 7:49 PM
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Makes the city seem kind of sinister. I love the perspective from up there. You can see Trinity is starting to take its place on the skyline.
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  #1954  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2008, 1:11 PM
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Friday, December 5, 2008
Builders chase $440M Transbay prize
‘Grand Central of the West’ is just one coveted public project
San Francisco Business Times - by J.K. Dineen

The Bay Area’s biggest contractors are jockeying for blockbuster public construction jobs at a time when many of the region’s largest condo developments and office towers have been indefinitely halted.

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority board is scheduled Jan. 8 to pick a contractor for the first phase of the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco. The $440 million contract includes demolition of the current terminal and extensive pre-construction work on the high-speed rail and office tower. The two finalists are Clark Construction in a joint venture with Webcor, and Turner in a joint venture with Bovis Lend Lease.

The team that wins the $440 million contract will be a front-runner to capture the $500 million next phase of the project being billed as the Grand Central Station of the West.


“This could be the biggest thing in San Francisco since the Bay Bridge,” said Russ Getschet, pre-construction manager for Bovis Lend Lease. “Thank God for them, it’s starting.”

Construction industry executives are hoping that the arrival of several major public jobs, including the Transbay and the $887 million San Francisco General Hospital rebuild voters approved Nov. 4, will be enough to offset some of the losses stemming from the cancellation or postponement of private residential developments, including phase two of One Rincon Hill and the 720-unit Crescent Heights project at 10th and Market streets. The U.S. Commerce Department reported that construction spending dropped by 1.2 percent in October; housing construction has dipped 4 percent since September.

In October, after completing excavation, Beacon Capital Partners abruptly stopped construction on its office tower at 535 Mission St. The decision left Swinterton Builders executives scurrying to find new assignments for the dozens of construction managers and tradesmen who had been working on the now-mothballed building.

“The Beacon project was stopped when the wheels were moving — the materials were on the way and the team was staffed up,” said Swinerton President Charlie Kuffner. “You have your top guys on a job like that, and now you have to redeploy them.”

Not surprisingly, when the dust settled the workers were not redeployed to private condo towers or office buildings, but to public works jobs like the $350 million replacement of the Highland Hospital/Alameda County Medical Center and the $35 million job constructing four performing arts centers for the Campbell Unified School District. Swinerton just finished two Valley Health Centers in Sunnyvale and Gilroy, and is chasing Catholic Healthcare West as well as a number of funded construction projects at junior colleges.

“The private developers are unable to get commercial credit,” said Eric Foster, senior vice president of Swinerton. “We are refocusing on things financed by public bonds or parcel taxes.”

The same goes for Bovis Lend Lease, which recently completed the 269-unit Arterra and was general contractor for phase one of One Rincon Hill. Bovis recently won three contracts for San Francisco City College totaling $140 million and is also looking to bid on health-care projects, a specialty the contractor has done plenty of in other markets, but not San Francisco.

“We are quite capable of building hospitals, and that is where the market is heading,” said Getschet.

The Bay Area’s largest contractor, Webcor Builders, is also shifting its focus to public projects, but still has a significant pipeline of condo developments under construction. Webcor is building San Francisco’s three major condo developments still under construction: Jackson Pacific’s 180-unit One Hawthorne St., one of the few projects to break ground this year; phase two of Tishman Speyer’s Infinity; and the 419-unit Millennium Tower at First and Mission streets. In addition, Webcor has four projects in Los Angeles in the $250 million range, including LA Live and the Century.

“Those are still going strong and are halfway through construction,” said Webcor senior vice president Jes Pedersen. “Those will continue through 2009.”

Meanwhile, Webcor is pushing aggressively into public projects. Webcor is general contractor on the new San Francisco General Hospital and is chasing the Transbay job. But the economic downturn is even hurting some public projects. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has put its new $188 million headquarters building on hold and is reevaluating whether the super-green structure makes economic sense at a time when tax revenues are falling. Webcor is slated to be the contractor on that project as well.

“They have not made up their minds,” said Pedersen. “They are still asking questions — we like to believe there is still life left in it and something is going to happen.”


Kuffner said he hoped a new president and administration would shake the credit markets loose and restore some optimism in shell-shocked developers.

“It’s definitely a change in times,” said Kuffner. “I think in Q2 or Q3 we will know if we can count on the financial markets. Unfortunately, it’s not something we have any control over.”
Source: http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/...ml?t=printable
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  #1955  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2008, 1:15 PM
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Friday, December 5, 2008
Forest City set to start Presidio rental project
San Francisco Business Times - by J.K. Dineen

Forest City starts construction this week on a $71 million residential redevelopment of the former Public Health Service Hospital in the Presidio, despite the crippled credit market that has stalled new housing developments across the Bay Area.

Susan Smartt, senior vice president of Forest City Residential West, said her firm was able to obtain construction financing for the 154-apartment complex because of the site’s unusual bucolic-yet-urban Presidio setting and the relative resilience of San Francisco’s apartment segment. Forest City’s strong experience as a national urban developer was also a factor, she said.

“It’s a testament to Forest City’s track record that this loan got done in the heat of the financial crisis,” said Smartt. “It got done based on relationships and the strength of the location.”

Wachovia is the lead lender for the loan, which closed the last day of October — a wicked month on Wall Street during which the Dow Jones lost 14 percent of its value. Wells Fargo will end up with the loan through its takeover of Wachovia.

“We have a long-term investment horizon, and while things are pretty down right now, you really should be building when the market is down so you bring product online when the market is up,” said Smartt.

Five-year journey

The start of construction comes five years after the Presidio Trust picked Forest City to redevelop the 1932 hospital at Lake Street and 15th Avenue, a structure that has been empty for 20 years. Forest City underwent a four-year community process during which residents in the abutting inner Richmond neighborhood convinced the developer to pare back the project from 350 to 154 units. The developer also agreed to knock down the non-historic wings of the hospital.

The Presidio Trust is investing another $20 million in the district around the former hospital. About $7.8 million of this will go to renovating the 70,000-square-foot former nurses dormitory into office space. Another $11 million will go toward revamping 13 historic homes along Wyman Terrace, set to start construction in March. The rest of the money will be invested in landscaping and trails.

The 1,500-acre Presidio has seen a flood of investment in the five years between the time Forest City started working on its plan and the start of construction. In 2005, the 860,000-square-foot Letterman Digital Arts Center opened for business. In 2007, a roster of other new tenants inked leases there, including Babcock & Brown, Francisco Partners and Clarium Partners. New restaurants have popped up, including La Terrasse, Pres A Vi and the Presidio Social Club, and a new Walt Disney Family Museum is under construction and set for completion in August 2009.

Office leases feed housing

The burst of activity has only improved the prospects for a residential project in the Presidio, especially in a region where eco-conscious workers want to walk or bike to work, Smartt said.

“The Presidio as a location for companies has become more established, and we certainly will be doing a lot of marketing to existing employees,” said Smartt.

The Presidio has a 2 percent vacancy rate for its 1,089 apartments, and just 5 percent of the 3.5 million square feet of office and warehouse space within the park is vacant. Most of the office leasing deals were completed in 2006 and during the first half of 2007 — just before the economy slowed.

Presidio Trust Executive Director Craig Middleton said the park has been insulated from the recession by “what we call Presidio magic.” Still, he said he was worried that Forest City might have trouble financing its project.

“I would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to be concerned about what is happening in the overall economy and what it might to do the Presidio,” Middleton said.

Strong rental market

San Francisco’s apartment market continues to be among the strongest in the United States. Asking rents in San Francisco have shot up 6.3 percent since the third quarter of 2007 to an average of $1,827 a month — second only to New York, according to a market report from Reis Inc., a New York-based research firm. In addition to Forest City’s Presidio development, three major apartment projects are under construction in the city: Trinity Properties’ 1,900-unit development at 1169 Market St.; Avalon Bay’s 260-unit project at 355 King St.; and Urban Housing Group’s 192-unit project at 555 Mission Rock Blvd.

Smartt said if the project were set to be condominiums, rather than apartments, “we surely would not be doing it.”

The units will be junior one bedrooms, one bedrooms and two bedrooms, and range between 400 square feet and 1,500 square feet.

Congress established the Presidio Trust in 1994 to manage the Presidio, a former army base with nearly 6 million square feet of buildings, including 469 historic structures that contribute to its status as a National Historic Landmark District. In establishing the Trust, Congress mandated that it make the park financially self-sufficient by 2013.

“The trust has done a good job of trying to balance out some economic activity to support broader goals on open space and trails and preserving historic resources,” said Smartt. “It has become a place where there are people everywhere doing different things.”

The contractor on the project is Plant Construction, and SMWM, which recently merged with Perkins + Will, is the architect.
Source: http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/...ml?t=printable
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  #1956  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2008, 1:20 PM
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Friday, December 5, 2008
Top Vision halts $240M Candlestick condos
San Francisco Business Times - by J.K. Dineen

Work on the $240 million phase three of Top Vision Development’s Candlestick Point has come to a grinding halt, with the builder unable to secure construction financing for the waterfront project.

In the latest in a series of San Francisco condominium complexes placed on the back burner due to the tight credit markets, Top Vision General Manager Jerry Brunstein said project lender United Commercial Bank recently informed his firm that it would not finance the 465-unit third phase of the Candlestick Point project. Other major housing developments that have been shelved include the 292-unit phase two of One Rincon Hill and the 318-unit phase two of the Radiance in Mission Bay.

Brunstein said the decision to stop building was based entirely on the inability to secure a construction loan, not on the generally abysmal housing market. He said phase three will take 24 to 30 months to build, long enough for the residential market to bounce back.

“If somebody will lend us the money, we have great confidence in the market,” said Brunstein.

The decision is a blow to the city’s plans to create 2,800 units of housing on Candlestick Point, the isolated waterfront land between Highway 101 and Monster Park in the city’s southeast corner. Top Vision sold out its first 128 units in 2001 and thus far has unloaded 146 condos in the 176-unit phase two, although Brunstein said sales have slowed to a handful a month since the summer. He said the buyers continue to be attracted to the quiet waterfront location, a site that offers nature trails and windsurfing, but lacks the public transportation, shopping and restaurants that most San Francisco neighborhoods offer.

“We were selling 10 a month during the best of times. Now we are lucky if we get one a week.”

While Top Vision’s first two phases are wood frame over podium, which is much cheaper to build, the third phase is concrete and steel highrise construction, with a pair of 16-story structures and another two of seven and eight stories. Brunstein said it is unlikely that a new lender will step in anytime soon.

“We have a broker or two out there hunting, but they don’t give us a lot of optimistic reports,” said Brunstein.

Meanwhile, next door to the Top Vision site, Signature Properties is still building Candlestick Cove, a 125-unit phase of a cluster that will eventually total 499 units. Signature Properties President Michael Ghielmetti said they are cautiously moving forward with their wood frame units, adding five-unit townhouses as warranted by sales of completed units. He said Signature has no immediate plans to start work on the taller 100-plus-unit podium buildings it has entitled.

“Sales are slower than we would like,” said Ghielmetti, “but we have not changed anything.”

Chris Foley of Polaris Group, which is handling sales for Top Vision, said it’s not surprising construction was put on ice.

Office and residential highrises are on hold because no one knows what the economics are going to be when we come out of this financial situation,” Foley said.
Source: http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/...ml?t=printable
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  #1957  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2008, 1:23 PM
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Friday, December 5, 2008
Developer wins battle vs. preservationists
San Francisco Business Times - by J.K. Dineen

Developers looking to build a 13-story condo tower on the site of a 1920s-era auto dealership at Bush and Franklin Streets in San Francisco have beaten back efforts by historic preservationists to torpedo the project.

On Dec. 2, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency Commission voted unanimously to approve a 70-unit project proposed by Pacific Heights Franklin Partners, a partnership between Dan Schalit and Jim Helfrich of Village Properties. The vote endorsed the environmental impact report, the design of the building and the demolition of the current structure, which is occupied by Cars Dawydiak.

San Francisco Heritage Executive Director Jack Gold said he argued at the hearing that the single-story building deserves preservation because it is part of the “auto row historic district,” a cluster of early automobile businesses on and near Van Ness Avenue.

“It’s one of a type of auto-related buildings in that neighborhood that represent the flowering of the auto industry in San Francisco,” said Gold.

The building was designed by Frederick Meyer, who was the architect of the Bill Graham Auditorium, as well as a number of classic residential buildings like 980 and 999 Bush St., 775 Post St., 795 Sutter St. and 956 Post St. Gold called Meyer “one of the most important architects in the city.”
Source: http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/...ml?t=printable
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  #1958  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2008, 5:35 PM
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Originally Posted by BT's Article
...the cancellation or postponement of private residential developments, including...the 720-unit Crescent Heights project at 10th and Market streets.
Obviously nothing is happening at this site and none of us expect that to change anytime soon, but has there been an official notice that this is on hold? That's probably an academic question given all indications are that it is. Just curious if anyone has seen/heard anything from the developer.
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  #1959  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2008, 5:46 PM
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I'm going to miss driving by Cars Dawydiak. I very much enjoy glancing at the classic Porches, Ferrari's and other occasional classic or exotic sports cars each time I pass by. I call it the "Toy Store" of cars to my family. They also sell the cute Vespa's there. I sure hope that the building that is going to replace it is going to be worth it.
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  #1960  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2008, 5:58 PM
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Originally Posted by SFView View Post
I'm going to miss driving by Cars Dawydiak. I very much enjoy glancing at the classic Porches, Ferrari's and other occasional classic or exotic sports cars each time I pass by. I call it the "Toy Store" of cars to my family. They also sell the cute Vespa's there. I sure hope that the building that is going to replace it is going to be worth it.
I agree. I don't support the building being preserved as historical, but it is certainly being put to good use now. In a perfect world some of the vacant or underused buildings on Bush between Franklin and Van Ness (right around the corner) would be redeveloped first.
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