Archive for May, 2006

Interesting Price/Sqft Maps

Zillow Price/Sqft Map

Zillow has two interesting maps today on their blog (one for Seattle and the other for the Bay Area) showing color correlated price per square foot values around the region.

None of it is terribly surprising, but it’s fun to look at nonetheless.

Image courtesy of


Rincon Center deal continues Beacon's S.F. shopping binge

From today’s SF Business Times comes news of another rental to condominium conversion,

Beacon Capital Partners has agreed to buy both the office and residential components of Rincon Center for an estimated $300 million, continuing Beacon’s astounding spending spree in downtown San Francisco.

The blockbuster deal, which is scheduled to close during the second week in June, totals 757,000 square feet of space in three buildings: 101 Spear St. (Rincon Center One), 121 Spear St. (Rincon Center Two) and 88 Howard St. In addition to more than 500,000 square feet of office, restaurant and retail, the building has 320 rental apartments, which Beacon plans to convert into condominiums.

This is another example of a building that was built as condos initially, but rented by the developer. They have every right to sell the units off at any time, but these folks seem to be looking at the displacement issues and offering a very sweet package for those in the 76 BMR units,

The yearlong sale process has been nerve-wracking for the tenants who rent the building’s 320 apartments, according to David Osgood, president of the Rincon Center Tenants Association. When the Rincon Center was completed in 1988, the 320 housing units on floors seven through 12 were mapped as a condominiums, but have always been rental. The tenants were informed a year ago that the property was for sale and that in all likelihood the new owners would be converting the rental apartments to condos. Osgood said that “the uncertainty takes a toll.”

“I find it deplorable that the building can be converted in this way but there is nothing we can do about it, apparently,” said Osgood. “We just have to take a wait-and-see approach and hope to have a good professional relationship with the new owner.”

While Beacon is primarily a commercial developer and landlord, the company is building new housing in Seattle and Boston.

The property, which includes 76 below-market-rate apartments, is part of the South Beach-Rincon Point Redevelopment area and under the control of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency. Under a deal hammered out last August between Blackstone Group and Redevelopment, the 76 below-market-rate tenants would be able to buy their units at a price where monthly payments — mortgage, taxes, and HOV — would not exceed 32.5 percent of income. In addition the new owner would be obligated to pay a 5 percent down payment for any below-market-rate tenant who wants to buy their apartment, according to David Sobel, senior development specialist at the redevelopment agency.

Should the below-market-rate tenant opt not to buy or to continue to rent, they are still entitled to the 5 percent down payment.

“Basically they can take the money and run,” said Sobel.

Furthermore, senior or disabled renters would be able to continue to rent if they so choose, according to Sobel, who said the idea was to “minimize displacement.”[more…]

Despite the opportunity that the developers are providing with these BMR units, I’m sure Daly will jump in and make this so difficult or financially unfeasible that the deal will never happen.

Remember, these were originally mapped as condos. They do not have to provide anything outside of current BMR rules, but they are looking to do a very generous thing by providing this opportunity to the current tenants. Let’s hope that Daly sees how good of an opportunity this is for those tenants, and that he finds a way to make it happen. I won’t hold my breath, however.


Bubble Trouble? What to make of all the real estate trend news

This week’s Surreal Estate column on SFGate discusses (from a homeowner’s perspective) the deluge of information available on whether the market is strong or if there’s a pending apocalypse,

It’s springtime and real estate analysts are busy crunching numbers and spitting out prognostications at terrific speed. Open the paper or switch on the TV news or a radio talk show, and chances are you’re going to encounter something about the real estate market and its recent downturn.

Some economists — typically, those who have staked their professional reputations on being dark-horse skeptics — are predicting nothing short of a global economic apocalypse. Others — often those on the take from the real estate industry — scoff at such dire visions. Don’t listen to the doomsayers, they say, “we’re in for a soft landing.”

But how these perspectives affect the average gal with a mortgage or the ordinary dude with a dream of buying his own house is anything but clear. So who do you listen to, and what does it all mean? [more…]

Don’t Hold Your Breath [NYT]


Doublespeak With Forked Tongue

From Matt Smith in this week’s SF Weekly,

Rarely does testimony at official City Hall gatherings meet high literary standards of eloquence and pith.

But then few forums want so badly for such qualities as a Board of Supervisors committee hearing, such as the one last week where politicians spent the better part of an hour engaging in surreal doublespeak in order to bad-mouth the nonprofit builder Mission Housing Development Corp.

Supervisor, you can put that forked tongue back in your mouth,” said Mission Housing’s director of resident services Damon Harris, after Supervisor Chris Daly interrupted him during a public comment. In keeping with the truth-avoidance tenor of the proceedings, Harris’ microphone was immediately turned off.

Harris was referring to a two-year-old political dispute, in which Daly has sought payback against a nonprofit housing developer for being more interested in housing than Daly’s personal brand of politics.

Daly has worked to punish Mission Housing directors ever since they acted four years ago to stop what they saw as improper diversion of tax money away from building and managing low-income apartments, and toward supporting Daly’s favorite partisan political causes.

Daly has absurdly characterized this crusade as a case of sound public stewardship. That’s no surprise. Daly speaks from a private semantic universe when characterizing his own actions.

Yet outrageously, the mayor, the city controller, and other supervisors have aided Daly in this whitewash. [more…]

My only question here: why would a Supervisor who looks out for his constituents want to fight with a NON-PROFIT housing developer?


Emergency Community Meeting – Inner Sunset

From Metroblogging SF,

Next Thursday there will be an Emergency community meeting for the Inner Sunset. Hosting this meeting will be the District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. District 5 mostly covers the business corridor of the Inner Sunset, and the rest is in District 7. Regardless of district, if you live, eat or shop in the area it’s in your interest to attend this meeting and be heard. There will be a question and answer format.

The meeting’s stated focus (from an email/flyer to residents) is on problems related to “homelessness in the neighborhood and in Golden Gate Park, graffiti and the quality of life”. Also in attendance will be “key officials” from the following departments:

  • Park Police Station
  • Taraval Station
  • Richmond Station
  • District Attorney’s Office
  • Department of Public Works
  • Department of Public Health
  • Recreation and Park Department
  • Department of Human Services
  • Date: June 1, 2006
    Time: 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
    Location: County Fair Building
    Address: Intersection of 9th Ave. and Lincoln Way