Mission Bay construction booming 

It isn’t every day a city can watch a whole neighborhood, let alone a high-density downtown extension, spring up out as though the city was new. But that is happening in The City’s new biotech cradle, San Francisco’s Mission Bay Redevelopment Area.

Several private office, laboratory and residential projects were completed at the end of 2006 and construction began on others, with union construction workers, in the estimated "high hundreds," employed on the work, Building and Construction Trades Council spokesman Michael Theriault said.

Lowe Enterprises has begun work on its new building at 500 Terry A. Francois Blvd., a 300,000-square-foot Class-A speculative office space development with some 8,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, Lowe senior VP Andrew Segal said. The company acquired the project in August 2006 with permits already in place from the former Catellus Development Corp., now ProLogis (PLD), the lead developer of Mission Bay. The foundations are in place, and aboveground construction has now begun, Segal said.

"The office market has been steadily improving for two and half years now," he said. "We feel good about the market and wanted to get the new space as quickly as we could."

It is Lowe’s first development in Mission Bay; it also owns 300 California St.

Biotechnology construction giant Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. (ARE) was scheduled to complete its first speculative biotechnology laboratory project at 1700 Owens St. late last year; some interior work is still ongoing. Sirna Therapeutics Inc. moved into part of the building in early January, Sirna staff members said, shortly after Sirna was acquired by Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK).

The building at 1700 Owens is the first of many Alexandria is undertaking. It received San Francisco Redevelopment Agency approval in November for 1500 and 1600 Owens St. Both are lab, office and retail mixed-use buildings, according to city records. The building at 1500 Owens will be 164,464 square feet and 90 feet tall, while 1600 Owens will be 245,367 square feet and 80 to 160 feet tall. Alexandria VP of Development of Mission Bay Terezia Nemeth declined to comment.

Alexandria is also planning two parking garages with 1,100 combined parking spaces, a smaller biotech building near Interstate 280, and two laboratory projects on Third Street, Redevelopment Agency planner Amy Neches said. The Third Street buildings will be a combined 550,000 square feet in size, with one six-story building and three interconnected buildings at 11 stories, Neches said, and are scheduled to go before the Planning Commission in February. But construction will not begin immediately on all of these projects in design, she said.

"I always figured this [all of Mission Bay] would be a 20- to 30-year project, and I think it will be," she said.

Work began at Shorenstein Properties LLC’s two laboratory buildings at 409 and 499 Illinois in October, those with knowledge of the project said. The two buildings comprise 450,000 square feet and are six stories each, and Fibrogen Inc. of South San Francisco has a long-term lease for 409 Illinois with an option to rent 499. Presently, Shorenstein is putting in a perimeter foundation system that reaches to the bedrock 10 to 40 feet beneath the site, to keep out water in the high-groundwater area, with excavation of the site to begin in February. Work is scheduled for completion in November 2008

On the housing front, seven projects with 1,537 units are done, and another seven projects with 1,196 units are under construction, Neches said. Some 6,000 apartments, condos and other housing are scheduled for all of Mission Bay.

Neches said she is particularly excited about Intracorp San Francisco.’s Arterra project, 269 market-rate condominiums slated to be San Francisco’s first certified eco-friendly residential high-rise, with roof lawns and other green features. The condos are also notable because they are smaller than some others in Mission Bay, and priced lower because of that.

"Our two-bedrooms are in the $800,000s, where a lot of our competitors are in the $900,000s. ... If you design a building well, a lot of that extra square footage isn’t noticeable," Intracorp President Dean Givas said, adding that 20 percent of the units are already sold through a pre-sale, with binding contracts and non-refundable deposits. "Our project is really focused on the first-time home buyer."

Arterra is scheduled to be completed in March 2008. Bosa Development Corp. is also working on two condominium projects. "Radiance" at 325 China Basin with 99 units scheduled for completion in 2008; its foundation was just poured, VP Andrea Jones said. Bosa will begin construction of the second project, with 319 units, this spring.

A 193 unit market-rate rental project, Urban Housing Group’s "Edgewater at Mission Bay" at 355 Berry St., is scheduled for completion in August, company Director of Development Dan Deibel said. The apartments range from 550 to 1,300 square feet. Urban Housing Group is also breaking ground on another rental-housing project in the spring, with 192 more apartments.

"Our business is strictly mixed-use residential developments," Deibel said. "Fifteen percent of all housing stock in Mission Bay was put aside for rental."

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