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July 18, 2014
Robotic Garages To Invade S.F.
Robotic parking will be an amenity starting in high-end buildings and becoming standard, like radios in cars, predicts local landlord Brian Veit.
New Jersey-based automated parking manufacturer Boomerang just sped into the S.F. market by hiring Brian to find opportunities. The principal of Seal Rock Investments owns 420 Taylor and even he gripes about its garage. Parking doesn't just annoy drivers; it's a real problem for developers. Space devoted to parking is space you can't rent or sell. It's a money pit (especially excavation costs). As a designer, parking is undesirable. The "louvered canyons" old parking garages impose on the urban street are a blight, Brian says; he once worked in One Maritime, jail-like "parking podium" architecture that doesn't relate well to the street.
Here's how Boomerang's modular system works, says Brian (here with his three boys). The user is parked as soon as they pull into the bay. They can wait in a well-lit lobby while their car is retrieved. And an app displays wait time (just like Uber) so they can be productive in the interim. No valet ever touches their car. Developers can go after small, tight and irregular sites because they can fit twice as many cars. Now there's more room for condos and turning the cost center into a profit center. The financial math is compelling: The $1M/year that robotic parking saves in labor in a typical 250-car garage is worth $20M to a real estate investor at a (currently) conservative 5% cap. For a $5M Boomerang solution. He says he can't think of any other system a developer can touch in a building to add that kind of value.
CEO Mark Patterson (who formerly oversaw Merrill Lynch's real estate principal investing activities) thinks automated parking will be the biggest development in real estate since the elevator. Right now the trend is taking off in Miami. Brickell House, a 46-story condo tower that opens this summer is the second Boomerang installation (above). More are being built and many more are now in contract, says Brian, who thinks a steady stream of S.F. projects will be on board soon. And why not? The list of things we would never imagine a robot replacing us doing keeps getting shorter. Some day his kids will think it's weird we used to drive around inside buildings, he says.
325 Fremont's Future
The longtime undeveloped lot at 325 Fremont could be getting a new parent, according to sources. Two years ago, Crescent Heights picked up the entitled project, went back to the drawing board, modernized and jazzed up its design with Handel Architects (growing the Rincon Hill tower to 25 stories and 118 units along the way), but the residential mastermind behind NEMA wants to hand off the project to another party if the price is right. Multifamily sources say if it does happen, the deal will be quiet and off-market. The planning commission officially approved the new design yesterday. Crescent declined to comment on the potential sale or on its latest endeavor in the city: redeveloping the Honda dealership at South Van Ness and Market.
Finding Office Space on Craig's List
We just caught wind of Mafia Bags, a Buenos Aires-born co that repurposes old sails into bags, wallets and accessories. We met co-founders (and siblings) Paz and Marcos Mafia at their new flagship US facility, a bright rectangular-shaped space in the heart of the Richmond district. They didn't work with a broker, though. While considering locales from South America, following through on a Craig's List posting for available office space did the trick. Proximity to Ocean Beach was a must; Marcos is a professional kitesurfer and was crowned the Argentine Kitesurf Champion at 22 (the now-25-year-old is out on the water every day).
Their Kickstarter campaign runs through July 25 with a $25k goal (so far about $16k has been raised), with donors getting free Mafia goods once production ramps up. The team's got various templates to cut patterns out of, and no two pieces are alike (above, Marcos sets sail on a wallet). Making the products in S.F.—and hiring locals—was important to the founders of the two-year-old co.
Look to Georgetown, TX for new opps
Georgetown, Texas economic development director Mark Thomas reports that Starwood Corporation has announced a 220-room destination hotel and conference center called the Sheraton Georgetown, Texas Hotel and Conference Center. Total project value: $250M, with $70M for development of additional retail. A new tax increment reinvestment zone happens in south Georgetown (Austin, Texas MSA), which benefits from city infrastructure funding. A developer has committed to construct 500k SF of Class A office space offering 100% renewable power provided by the city-owned utility (currently 100% wind power is available). $40M in capital investment is being poured into a behavioral hospital complex, which will create about 500 high-wage jobs. Nearly completed is building No. 2 of The Texas Life Sciences Collaboration Center; an 80k SF bio-flex space spec building breaks ground within two months, creating as many as 200 bio-related jobs. For more info on our sponsor, click here.
Net Zero, Their Hero
PG&E's Peter Turnbull, EBS Consultants' Matt Macko and DPR Construction's Ted van der Linden had a fireside chat at BOMA's monthly lunch Thursday at The City Club about net zero energy (NZE) buildings and the regulatory, market and financial drivers behind them. They think truly net zero buildings really require a complete shift from the norm, like putting on sweaters or opening a window instead of cranking the heat/AC. That also requires the right type of tenant who's on board with the effort to operate more naturally within our world. The trio chatted about specific design and technology tactics that can be good investments as well as help lower energy usage and improve building value. They especially focused on existing building ZNE/efficiency retrofits, since that's what BOMA members jam on.
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