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November 25, 2013
The Broker Techies Turn To
How does Jenny Haeg do it? The former CAC Group broker founded Custom Spaces only two years ago, and today she works exclusively with Airbnb, Spotify, and Square, to name a few. In the past, she nabbed spaces for Dropbox and Twitter.
Here's one secret: Her firm, now five employees, doesn't turn away startups that need only 1,000 SF. In fact, she makes a beeline for them, knowing they grow. When she started working with Twitter in 2006, it had just four employees (and the only person worth following was Shaq). She went on to place Twitter into 60k SF at 795 Folsom and 11k SF at 539 Bryant. She started working with Airbnb in 2008 and five years later found it 170k SF at 888 Brannan.
Custom Spaces doesn't go away after tenants sign along the dotted line. That might mean doing tasks for free, like finding tech execs short-term housing (on Craigslist). The USC alum builds flexibility into leases given the unpredictability of startups' growth, and avoids high rents, so more fundraising dollars can be used for recruiting. Other clients: VCs. One, Index Ventures, wanted to go against the Sand Hill Road grain and plant an office in the city. She found them a 3,600 SF pad, pictured above, across from AT&T Park with open desks and an entrepreneurial vibe (high ceilings, exposed brick); now portfolio firms want to drop by and work.
Now she's planning a future NYC office, as Bay Area tech firms hunt for satellite locations there. Perhaps investors should follow Jenny around to discover the next big thing; "They do," laughs her colleague Eva Gabrielsen. The new HQ she found for temp housing giant Airbnb (above) sits inside a former factory, and the founders opted to retain the original railroad tracks running through the lobby. The office also features meeting rooms modeled after listings around the world, from Berlin to Bali.
San Fran Hipsters Helping Returns
The verdict's in: hipsters around the country are boosting multifamily yields and one San Fran zip has flown into the top 25 for rental returns. RealtyTrac homed in on these hyper-local markets with strong fundamentals by focusing on a prevalence of hipster indicators, like age bracket (25 to 34), heavy walking and public transit use, a high amount of renters versus owners, and low vacancy, VP Daren Blomquist tells us. The San Fran zip that made the list, ranked by gross rental yields: 94107 (4.91%). Yields, however, are significantly lower than in top flannel meccas like Saint Paul (13.98%) and Pittsburgh (10.84%).
The Dogpatch neighborhood, nestled in San Francisco's sole zip on the list, houses Forest City's funky Pier 70 project on the eastern waterfront (its Urban Air Market is snapped above). But wait, aren't we living in a birthplace of hipster-ville? Why did only one local zip make the cut? Working against this list for San Francisco is its high prices, Daren tells us. "To get a good return you need a decent purchase price to begin with," he explains. The median home price in the 94107 zip is a whopping $725,750--the priciest on the top 25 list. The next local zip down the list is Berkeley's 94710 mustache-infused 'hood, which would have ranked No. 36 (4.2%).
Disney Dropouts Don't Get Barker Down
When Disney shut down at Barker Pacific's Novato campus three years ago, managing director Michael Barker didn't jump off a cliff (here, hiking in Southern Utah near Lake Powell). He hoped that new tenants would desire Hamilton Landing's creative layout, and they did; Barker Pacific is now close to refilling most of the space Mickey Mouse left behind. (Though one tenant looks suspiciously like Huey, Dewey, and Louie standing on top of each other wearing a trench coat.) Hamilton Landing recently signed three lease expansions and two new major leases, totaling nearly 119k SF. Hamilton Landing is now 85% leased, with 84k SF available of a total 403k SF.
The Marin County office complex has a storied past. Built as air-base hangars in the 1930s, the site fell into disrepair after the Air Force returned the land to the city in 1974. When Barker Pacific stepped in to perform a massive overhaul in the late 1990s, Michael recalls the site being in "wretched condition," with mice and broken glass accompanying his purchase. George Lucas' nearby Skywalker Ranch helped create a population of "tech geeks" who love living and working in Marin over the city, he notes. (And being close to the genesis of Hans Solo.) Now gaming companies like 2K and Touchfactor, as well as Raptor Pharmaceutical and EDG Interior Architecture, are calling the hangars home.
Turn 50, Throw A Party
Precast concrete vet Clark Pacific celebrated its 50th anniversary last week with 200 pals at the Bently Reserve. Presidents Don and Bob Clark flank longtime friend, Google director of real estate John Igoe, and a star-studded cast of construction execs from Balfour Beatty, DPR, Swinerton, and Webcor also joined in on the fun. So, what's changed at Clark in 50 years (aside from candle count)? In short, structures are now greener, prettier, and stronger against earthquakes.