SAN FRANCISCO — As soul-sucking commutes become synonymous with Bay Area living, one local real estate developer has proposed an innovative solution — a project that would allow hundreds of employees to live and work in the same building.
The 13-story development at 4th and Bryant streets in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood would provide housing for at least 400 residents and office space for about half that many. It appears to be the Bay Area’s first large-scale building to combine co-living and co-working space, according to the developer, San Francisco-based Realtex. But it might not be the last, as developers continue to experiment with creative ways to fulfill a growing demand to bring housing and jobs closer together.
“We suffer from some of the worst traffic in the world here in the Bay Area,” said Matt Regan, senior vice president of public policy for business-backed advocacy organization the Bay Area Council. “It’s impossible to get from Walnut Creek to Cupertino in the morning in less than two hours — that’s a 55 mile drive and takes 120 minutes. That’s crazy. So we need to reassess how we’ve grown and how we’re developing, and this really addresses both those problems.”
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Realtex is proposing 400 small studio apartments, each with a bathroom and basic kitchen. Residents would share larger communal kitchens and lounges — as they do in properties by OpenDoor, Starcity and other trendy co-living spaces that are taking the housing market by storm.
About 25,000 square feet of the 4th and Bryant project would be dedicated to co-working office space — enough room to serve about half of the building’s residents, said Cody Fornari, CEO of Realtex. He envisions other amenities inside, such as a theater, gym and market or restaurant. The result would be so all-inclusive that “you really don’t need to leave the building,” he said.
A sample floor plan for a proposed building at 4th and Bryant streets in San Francisco, which would combine co-living and co-working space, with a goal of eliminating grueling commutes. (Courtesy of Realtex)
“We’re trying to put forward a very innovative approach to what we think is a big need,” Fornari said. “There’s a lot of people who are commuting two hours on Google buses.”
The project addresses the problem at the crux of the Bay Area’s crippling housing shortage and traffic woes — there aren’t enough homes in the region’s job centers. And its mixed-use approach is becoming more popular with local companies.
Eschewing the traditional corporate campus that consists of a sprawling office park accessible only by car, more employers are setting up shop in developments that integrate office space, housing, retail and public transit into one inter-connected complex. Examples of the trend include SurveyMonkey in San Mateo’s Bay Meadows development, Veritas Technologies in Santa Clara Square, OSIsoft in the San Leandro Tech Campus and Splunk in Santana Row in San Jose.
Other companies are taking it upon themselves to create new housing for their workers — Facebook is planning to build 1,500 homes on its expanded Willow Campus in Menlo Park, and Google is backing a 10,000-home development in North Bayshore in Mountain View.
The 4th and Bryant project seeks to take the concept a step further by putting housing and work together in one massive building.
Realtex is exploring selling or leasing the entire building to one large employer, which could use the co-working space as an office and the apartments to house its employees. On-site housing could be a major draw for potential hires who might be scared away by the region’s scarce supply of housing, Fornari said, and that’s a plus for local employers who are struggling to recruit talent.
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But a grand-opening is several years away. Realtex is in contract to buy the three parcels that together would make up the project site, and Fornari expects to close the first deal in the next six months. Realtex likely will break ground in two or three years, and residents could start moving in in five. The developer is working on its first permit application to the city, which will kick off a lengthy entitlement process.
Regan, who said he’s never seen a live-work project of this size, called the concept a great idea.
“It will be very interesting to see if it succeeds,” Regan said. “And it could be the first of many.”
Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
A Bay Area developer’s innovative commute hack: live, work in one building