1533 Pine St. (Planning, Design or Conception) – San Francisco – 94104
Trumark hits San Francisco
Seasoned Bay Area developer Trumark is looking to make its mark on San Francisco’s rapidly recovering condo market.
Danville-based Trumark has bought land on Pine Street in the Lower Polk Street neighborhood, where the developer is entitling a 120-unit, $42 million condominium project.
Trumark has been developing commercial and residential projects in California for over 20 years, focusing on condos, apartments and office buildings close to jobs. But until now Trumark, which is in the process of building or entitling 2,000 California housing units, has stayed out of San Francisco.
In addition to the site at 1533 Pine St., the group is closing in on the acquisition of a parcel in the Mission District (reportedly on South Van Ness Avenue) that would allow for about an 80-unit project. By the end of the year, the company is aiming to have a San Francisco pipeline with four or five projects and about 400 units.
“We made a strategic decision to focus on San Francisco in 2011,” said Arden Hearing, Trumark’s senior vice president of land acquisitions. “It’s the best city in the world and we feel that now, coming out of a major recession, is a good entry point. We like the market dynamics; the combination of low housing supply and strong demand and jobs.”
Trumark plans to build condominiums in San Francisco, rather than rental apartments. That decision comes at a time when the success of several small condo projects is generating renewed interest in the for-sale market. At 299 Valencia St., developer JS Sullivan has put 30 units under contract in less than six months. Just six units remain, and the building doesn’t even open for two weeks. Prices have averaged $900 a square foot — 20 percent higher than expected, according to Chris Foley of the Polaris Group, which is handling marketing of that project as well as the Trumark development. At the 32-unit 1840 Washington St., the largest condo project completed in the city in 2011, units sold out in less than three months with pricing over $1,000 a square foot.
“Keep an eye on Trumark — they are going to be in San Francisco in a big way,” said Foley. “They are looking at six or eight deals.”
The 1533 Pine St. site is 15,000 square feet with a 130-foot height limit on most of the property. Trumark has hired Arquitectonica, which designed Tishman Speyer’s two-tower Infinity project.
Several boarded-up buildings on the site would be demolished though a 1923 façade from of one of the existing buildings, a former furniture and automobile showroom, will likely be preserved and incorporated into the design.
In determining whether to build rental or for-sale units, Trumark is looking to be nimble, Hearing said. The firm is building 450 rental apartments near the Caltrain station in Santa Clara.
In San Francisco, it is underwriting deals as both apartments and condos, but it expects condos to prevail.
“We think that we’re in the seventh inning of the apartment cycle, and there is a fair amount of supply looming. Conversely, we are very early in the condo cycle, maybe the second inning. The timing between the two has been skewed for various reasons relating to the availability of financing. As such, we are bullish on buying and entitling condo projects in places like San Francisco.”
Hearing said Trumark is more interested in neighborhood infill sites than downtown areas like Mission Bay, Rincon Hill or the Transbay district. For developers interested in building an 80- or 100-unit project, the Pine Street site is about as close as you can get to the heart of Nob Hill and Russian Hill.
“I would prefer to buy infill sites in a relatively mature neighborhood, with services and amenities nearby. A place where we can come in, take an underutilized site, and enhance the street scene,” said Hearing. “I used to live up the street and love the diversity in people, food and entertainment. That was over a decade ago and I still feel at home there.”
Hearing said Trumark is still working with the Lower Polk Neighbors and District 3 Supervisor David Chiu on the design. “The neighborhood is superb, but the block is basically dead as the buildings have been unkempt for some time. We are going to turn the blight spot into the bright spot. We are going to bring vibrancy and life to the street. That sort of change makes sense on a variety of levels.”
J.K. Dineen covers real estate for the San Francisco Business Times.
Trumark preps 5 condo projects
Trumark Homes is on a San Francisco buying spree, gobbling up five development sites and filing applications to build more than 500 units in less than a year after making the decision to target infill housing in the city.
Trumark has tied up parcels in Lower Nob Hill, Potrero Hill, Hayes Valley, the Mission and South of Market. If the projects come to fruition, Trumark would have five condo projects under construction in 2014 and 2015. The company has spun off a San Francisco-based subsidiary, Trumark Urban, which is headed by Arden Hearing and has opened an office at 703 Market St. The group has also brought on board well-known Bay Area development executive Kim Diamond, who has held senior positions at Pulte Homes and Catellus Residential Group.
In addition to the first 123-unit project Trumark acquired in the Lower Polk Neighborhood, 1533 Pine St., the company is proposing 101 units at 645 Texas St. on the south side of Potrero Hill; 110 units at 1554 Market St., next the Richard Meier-designed tower for which developer David Choo is seeking approvals; 80 units on the site of a car wash at 346 Potrero St.; and 120 units on an undisclosed 22,000-square-foot parcel in the South of Market.
Based in Danville, Trumark has been developing commercial and residential projects in California for over 20 years, focusing on condos, apartments and office buildings close to jobs. But until now the group has mostly avoided urban core neighborhoods and stuck to townhouses, flats and single-family homes near employment centers such as Danville, Concord, Martinez, Palo Alto, San Leandro, San Jose and Walnut Creek. In addition to San Francisco, the new group will look to acquire development sites in downtown Los Angeles.
Trumark is focused on projects between 50 and 200 units in core San Francisco areas, sites that are too small for the real estate investment trusts, but too big for many of the Irish and Chinese family builders who have traditionally built a lot of the infill neighborhood projects, Hearing said. The projects are being underwritten as both rental apartments and condos, but Hearing expects they will end up for sale.
“We really like the fundamentals on condos, and as apartment rents go up, we like condos more and more every day. Jobs are booming and you have very little for sale.”
While the San Francisco projects are at various stages of environmental review, the Pine Street development is the furthest along toward approval. Designed by Arquitectonica, the Pine Street project is being called the Tower at Nob Hill and will incorporate a 1923 façade from one of the existing buildings, a former furniture and automobile showroom. Cahill will be the contractor.
At 1554-1560 Market St., Trumark is working with Forum Design on a 12-story, 120-foot tower with 24 parking spaces and retail along Market Street. In comments on a preliminary application, city planning staff called the tower “a transition building from the lower existing buildings to the 400-foot highrise that is being planned for the Choo site at the corner of Van Ness Avenue and Market Street.
At 346 Potrero, also being designed by Forum, Trumark is proposing a nine-story building with 52 parking spots and 3,000 square feet of retail. The 80,000-square-foot building would feature a taller ground floor level that would be set aside for production, distribution and repair, as required by the Eastern Neighborhoods plan.
“The views are stellar. It’s an easy walk to Zynga, Whole Foods, the Potrero Center — the whole thing,” said Hearing.
While Trumark is willing to take on considerable entitlement risk, Hearing said he would not mind finding an approved project that could get under way sooner.
“We are working feverishly to find a couple that we would be able to get in the ground in 2013,” said Hearing. “But they are hard to find.”
Hearing said construction costs have jumped 10 to 12 percent over the past year, “but the good news is that rents are up even more than that.” He said he is not worried about a glut of new units coming on line, despite the fact that San Francisco is seeing a housing boom that rivals that of 2006 and 2007.
“A year from now, tower cranes are going to litter the sky, but most of those are going to be apartments,” said Hearing.
J.K. Dineen covers real estate for the San Francisco Business Times.
The 1527-1545 Pine Street project site is located mid-block on the south side of Pine Street between Polk
Street and Van Ness Avenue / U.S. Highway 101, to the east and west, respectively, in San Francisco’s
Lower Nob Hill neighborhood. The block on which the project site is located is bisected by Austin Street,
a one-way, east-west minor street, and is bounded by Pine Street to the north, Polk Street to the east, Bush
Street to the south, and Van Ness Avenue to the west. The project site has two frontages − one on
Pine Street and one on Austin Street − and shares its east and west property lines with adjacent retail and
The project site consists of five lots on Assessor’s Block 667 and is completely developed with five
buildings: 1545 Pine Street, a 7,035-gross-square-foot (gsf), one-story building on Assessor’s Block 667 /
Lot 16; 1533-1535 Pine Street, an approximately 5,992-gsf, two-story building on Assessor’s Block 667 /
Lot 17; 1529 Pine Street, an approximately 3,492-gsf, two-story building on Assessor’s Block 667 / Lot 18A;
an approximately 2,490-gsf, two-story building on Assessor’s Block 667 / Lot 18 that is connected to the
1529 Pine Street building; and 1527 Pine Street, an approximately 5,992-gsf, two-story building on
Assessor’s Block 667 / Lot 19. These buildings range in height from 20 to 25 feet above street grade. The
building at 1545 Pine Street is considered an historical resource for purposes of environmental review.
Trumark Companies, the project sponsor, proposes demolition of each of the buildings on the project site
and, in their place, construction of a 137,712-gsf, 12-story (plus two basement levels) mixed-use building.
The proposed building would have 101,473 gsf of residential uses, with up to 107 residential units, and
2,844 gsf of ground-floor retail/art gallery space along Pine and Austin streets and 33,395 gsf of parking,
loading, storage, mechanical, and circulation space on the ground floor and two basement levels. The proposed project would provide 82 subsurface vehicle parking spaces, including 3 handicap-accessible
spaces and 2 car-share spaces; 106 Class 1 bicycle parking spaces, and one ground-floor off-street loading
space. The main entrance to the residential portion of the proposed building would be through a lobby
entrance located in the middle of the project site along the Pine Street frontage. Pedestrian access to the
residential units would also be available from Austin Street. Retail spaces would be located on Pine
Street, to the east and west of the residential entrance on Pine Street, and a public/private art gallery
space would be located on Austin Street at the southeast corner of the project site. Vehicular access
would be provided from two separate vehicular exit/entries on Austin Street; a 22-foot-wide driveway
would provide access to the subsurface automobile and bicycle parking spaces, and a 15-foot-wide
driveway would provide access to the ground-floor off-street loading space.
The project site is located in San Francisco’s Lower Nob Hill neighborhood, mid-block on the
south side of Pine Street (1527-1545 Pine Street) between Polk Street and Van Ness Avenue/U.S.
Highway 101, to the east and west, respectively (see Figure 1: Project Location). The project
site consists of five lots on Assessor’s Block 667 (Lots 16, 17, 18, 18A, and 19). The block on
which the project site is located is bisected by Austin Street, a one-way, east-west minor street
characteristic of the blocks adjacent to Van Ness Avenue.
The project site is bounded by Pine Street to the north, Austin Street to the south, and adjacent
retail and residential development to the east and west (see Figure 2: Existing Site Plan). The
project site measures 125 feet from east to west along its Pine Street frontage and 120 feet from
north to south (between Pine Street and Austin Street), encompassing approximately
15,000 square feet (sq. ft.). The project site slopes downward from west to east (Van Ness
Avenue to Polk Street) and from north to south (Pine to Austin streets) and has two frontages; the
main frontage along Pine Street and the rear frontage along Austin Street. There are three mature
street trees along the project site’s Pine Street frontage.
Existing vehicular access to the project site is via Pine Street (one-way westbound in the project
vicinity) by traveling on Polk Street (two-way), or via Austin Street (one-way eastbound in the
project vicinity) by traveling northbound on Van Ness Avenue. The project site is served by
several San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (Muni) public transit routes (Muni
routes 47 and 49 along Van Ness Avenue and Muni route 19 along Polk Street) that provide
access to downtown San Francisco, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), South of Market, Caltrain,
and the Mission District. Other Muni public transit routes located within a few blocks of the
project site – Muni route 1 along Sacramento and Clay streets and Muni routes 2 and 3 along
Sutter and Post streets – provide access to the Richmond District and to The Embarcadero.
Muni’s California Cable Car operates along California Street between Van Ness Avenue and
Market Street. In addition, there are Golden Gate Transit stops along Van Ness Avenue for bus
service to and from Marin County.