Global Warming Could Fuel (Future) San Francisco Real Estate Market

Coming off the heels of possibly the warmest day in San Francisco for the entire month of August, and actually seeing the sun at the coast (I think we broke 70 yesterday), it got me thinking about this recent New York Times article, “Think It’s Hot Now? Just Wait“.

Apparently, “July wasn’t just hot — it was the hottest month ever recorded, according to NASA. And this year is likely to be the hottest year on record. [Makes me wonder how August stacked up.]

Fourteen of the 15 hottest years have occurred since 2000, as heat waves have become more frequent, more intense and longer lasting. A study in the journal Nature Climate Change last year found that three of every four daily heat extremes can be tied to global warming.

This map provides a glimpse of our future if nothing is done to slow climate change. By the end of the century, the number of 100-degree days will skyrocket, making working or playing outdoors unbearable, and sometimes deadly. The effects on our health, air quality, food and water supplies will get only worse if we don’t drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions right away.”


Take a good close look at those maps and think to yourself. If it gets hot as hell, as predicted, where would you want to live? Where will your golf game be more pleasant? Where will your bike ride not suck because your tires don’t melt to the pavement? Where will that nice Napa Cab taste just right? Frying an egg on the hood of your car is only fun once…okay maybe twice.

Forget for a second the millions of people out there that think California’s one AVERAGE winter last year snapped us out of the drought (we’re sooooo not even close to smooth sailing in that department), and forget the millions more that think global warming and greenhouse gases and all that is some political stunt, and think for just a couple minutes about where is going to be an ideal place to live if it keeps getting hotter? A place where you LIVE and not simply SURVIVE.

Looking at the maps, Maine seems pretty ideal…but the bugs will drive you out of your mind, especially the black flies…I know…they tore me up on a canoe trip down the Allagash. (Actually, all the bugs might be dead by then if it gets as hot as predicted.) Phoenix does look inviting with around 163 days/year over 100 degrees, or maybe Houston with some 99% humidity and 62 plus days/year over 100? Hang on a sec….look at the West Coast!

The West Coast of the United States (assuming we have enough water to drink and keep our food supply alive), seems like a pretty safe bet to me. Now you gotta decide between California, Oregon, or Washington. Tough choice, indeed.

Regardless of where you choose, you’d have to think these most desirable coastal areas are going to get even more desirable as the rest of the nation becomes unbearable, right?

Yeah, I’m in the California real estate business, and I think California is hands down the best State in the Nation, but I bet you never thought about the Global Warming problem like this. Perhaps you should.

Think about the potential increase in value for property near a nice cool sea breeze or coastal fog. A place where average temperatures year-round hover in the mid to high 60s. Think about the attraction of not having to pay ever-increasing energy costs to cool your home…just open the window. Think about coastal real estate. There is no more of it, and it’s gonna get hot, hotter, hottest everywhere else!

If you think I’m nuts, and think our market is destined for a crash, have a look at the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index for San Francisco since 1987…lots of little ups and downs, but all-in-all WAY up:


It’s safe to say, San Francisco real estate is pretty much steadily hot, and in the future (thanks to Global Warming) could get even hotter. Something to mull over on this foggy (again) August morning.

Think It’s Hot Now? Just Wait [New York Times]
More Long Term Trend Market Graphs [theFrontSteps]
More Reasons We Live Here [theFrontSteps]
The Most San Francisco Summer – Just One Day In 70s In August [San Francisco Chronicle]


New Renderedings of Above-Ground SF Flower Mart Revealed

The SoMa-based SF Flower Mart has been a bay city institution for almost 60 years, but when plans were unveiled in 2014 for the establishment to move underground, public outcry was fierce.

Finally, the project has been revamped and the renderings depict a much more appealing above-ground facility, dotted with coffee shops, open space and plenty of sunlight for SF’s floral proprietors. The updated plan follows news that development company Kilroy Realty Corp. had purchased an adjoining  1.75-acre property at 620 Brannan St. bringing the square footage of the entire project to 2.1 million and making it the second biggest commercial development in SF after the Embarcadero Center.

Project Breakdown (see details below)
Creative Office Space: 2 mil sqft
Flower Mart Warehouse: 115,000 sqft
Retail / Market Hall: 100,000 sqft
Public Open Space: 40,000 sqft
Delivery: ~2020

Mixed-use Retail

The San Francisco Flower Mart continues to witness the evolution of one of America’s greatest cities. What began almost 100 years ago as a loose arrangement of local growers selling their wares near Lotta’s Fountain soon grew into a physical marketplace at the corner of 5th and Howard. The market later became a formal institution at its current space at 6th and Brannan. This time, the market will remain in its current location in SoMa, but a major reshaping will make it the focal point of a dynamic, mixed-use space that offers a unique take on the urban lifestyle.

Revamped Warehouse

The Warehouse:
The new San Francisco Flower Mart will include a modern, 115,000 sqft street-level warehouse, large enough to accommodate all tenants of the existing flower market. The improved layout will include secured entry points, as well as direct access to loading and parking to better service both input and output activities. 24-foot-high ceilings and strategically placed skylights create a light and airy feel inside of the warehouse and provide enough space for a multipurpose mezzanine level along the perimeter of the market. Energy efficient refrigeration will be located adjacent to each individual vendor stall. The specific details of the new facility will be further developed over the next several months by Kilroy Realty Corporation, San Francisco Flower Mart LLC, and a committee of Flower Mart tenants to ensure that the new market functions efficiently and effectively for businesses and customers.

Public Plaza

Integrated Public Plaza:
A series of integrated stairs throughout the site connect the amenity levels above to an expansive public plaza at the street level. The plaza will be the focal point of the Central SoMa neighborhood, which is currently lacking in high quality, well-maintained public open space. Boasting several convenient access points, connecting through the Market Hall, and encouraging pedestrian activity from nearby public transit, the plaza will also act as a programmable space for events such as famers’ markets and floral exhibitions. Pedestrian connections woven through the site are designed to address the recommendation of the Central SoMa Plan to link the surrounding city blocks to create more of a neighborhood feel. Through integrated windows off of the plaza, visitors and tenants will have the opportunity to catch a glimpse into the world of the fast-paced flower business without disrupting the busy wholesale operation inside.​

Creative Office Space


Creative Office Space:
Rising above retail experience will be a series of LEED Platinum-certified creative office buildings connected by sky bridges, giving tenants the flexibility to enjoy either large or medium-sized floorplates. A mix of rustic and modern facades and a low-rise podium building above the Market Hall on Brannan Street celebrates the industrial history and creative future of the neighborhood. Amenity plazas located above the Flower Mart warehouse at 14 and 24 feet contribute to a healthy office environment by providing office tenants with a convenient connection to the outdoors, attractive seating zones, recreational areas, and kiosks. This amenity zone, activated by the adjacent market and dynamic landscaping, will also extend the visual and functional identity of the Flower Mart.

More like this:

Arden Wood (Mostly) All Grown Up



 Way, way back, we looked at the then just starting Ardenwood luxury home project. We all speculated on price (around $2 mil, was the consensus) and rapidity with which they would sell. Many people also complained that a set of less than ten luxury homes was not the best use of the lot, given our housing scarcity, but that last complaint falls on deaf ears given that the homes are now for the most part complete.

And they’re all for sale. Still. As far as I can tell, and I beg you to set me straight (kindly though, please?) if I am incorrect, but these homes have yet to find their owners. There are seven of them, ranging at the “new” prices of $1,699,000 to $1,950,000, with two homes not yet priced. Looks then like the $2 mill estimate was not far off. (See prices, etc. at the Ardenwood website.)

Personally, that price seems steep to me. The homes are really lovely on the inside and I do love the West Portal village life, but the exteriors make me think of office buildings. They are also awfully close together and for that price, I would like the option of thinking I was all alone in the world. But what do I know? Surely someone is now dying to tell me how ignorant I am.

Bring it.

Photo, of the estate still under construction, via nativesf. Current photos abound at Ardenwood’s website, already linked above.

The Scoop: Seven Arden Estates Have Risen from the Earth

Some time ago, I noted the construction in West Portal and asked around the Front Steps for the scoop. Those folks on the steps always know a lot, and more importantly, they like to argue. We had ideas that the construction would yield five- no, six- no, seven- no,  eight homes. They were to be made of the cheapest- no, the most luxuriant materials. They were to be a blessing to- no, a curse, on San Francisco housing.

One thing we all seemed to agree on was that a stand of less than ten single-family homes was not the way to maximize that open space in West Portal. A larger building  project, sized to maximize density, would have been a better call.
Still, the call was made; and without much of the NIMBY drama that normally plagues construction, Arden Estates are here.
Well, almost. The now live website’s photo gallery so far boasts one photo (seen above). Such dearth is logical since the homes aren’t done yet; however, the location is awesome for families, and the units back up onto a thick mass of trees that completely belie an urban setting. Plus,  their plans look pretty sweet (see below: Click to enlarge).

click to enlarge
click to enlarge
And to the Front Steppers who argued over units, there are to be seven stand alone homes here. Each will have three bed rooms + a bonus room, three baths, high end finishes, attics, 2-car garages, fireplaces…. and geez, more, more, and more. Frankly, I’m getting light headed. You can see the list yourself by visiting the amenities link on the website.  
Price is, unsurprisingly, not advertised on the website. However, rumor has it these homes will run in the $2 million range.
So that’s me out of the running for one of these beauties, unless you’ve all been fooling me and there really is a Santa. If so, Santa, if you’re reading, I’ve been a very good girl.

Getting the LEED out for the weekend

This tip comes to us all the way from Oregon, via telephone no less (what is that!), and is about “one of the country’s first LEED certified homes” (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) that happens to be across the pond (Oakland). Rather than ramble on, we thought we’d just leave you with some nice photos and a link to details for the weekend.

That should make for some nice before and afters. Thanks for the tip, and phone call. It’s nice to hear a voice every now and then, isn’t it?

Bon Weekend!

Margarido House [website]


Granite is out, CaesarStone is in…music to our ears!

We’ve been waiting for some proof in writing to support not only the trend we’ve been seeing in new home construction, but also an argument to hold up against clients’ wishes to install granite countertops. Yes, some granite is still good, but better is something like CeasarStone, and Alan Mark, of the Mark Company provides just what we need:


Beyond the green trend, the once “standard” granite countertops have been replaced with CaesarStone. With its stain, scratch and heat-resistant properties, this less expensive quartz-based material offers the perfect combination of form and function. We have also seen oak floors replaced with richer walnut product.

There you have it…if you have something that looks like this, you might swap it with something like this.

Good day.

Sunset Idea House a.k.a. 1303 Alabama

by Tiffany Elston:

sunset In the spirit of keeping tabs on San Francisco’s green housing inventory, it seems only logical to draw attention to a green 2 unit TIC in the Mission: 1303 Alabama. The main unit is being retained by the owners. The second unit is a 1,200 SqFt home. The project is the result of a collaboration between Sunset Magazine and Meridian Builders and Developers Inc. and was designed to “take the magazine’s Idea House Program into a dense urban area for the first time, and demonstrate how to maximize construction on a compact site.” Interesting.

I got to preview the 2 bedroom 2.5 bath two Sundays ago during the Build It Green San Francisco Home Tour.

In terms of green building features, the house gets a high score: solar PV, recycled glass tiles, reclaimed wood floors, double insulated windows, dual flush toilets, rooftop garden, and the first residential windmill in the city (On a 1-year variance to see how the birdies fair with spinning blades.)

The unit is on the market for $1,089,000.

How long will it be before someone swoops in on this green baby? Wagers, anyone?

[Editor’s notes: It’d be fun to see what “A” and “M” think it will sell for. I know “A” is reading, but what about “M”. And WTF is up with the MLS photos of this place! You’d think better quality would be demanded of the agent.]

Info on the Sunset Idea House

1303 Alabama [MLS]

Cyber real estate conversations: some “funny shit”

From a reader:

a true e-mail interaction between 2 SF real estate watchers on 1303 Alabama St:


wanna hear some funny shit? no, not 306 Mullen, but that freaky-eco project on alabama and 25th. st. Be the first to see it this sunday 1-4 (and guess what, u don’t have to pay $25 to be on some pretentious architect tour!)

fyi- it’s north of $900 sq ft, for a tic in the mish!! woohoo!!


$900 per sq. ft? thats fucking funny, really funny.

It was wrong of these assholes to sell tickets then put it on the market. I saw dozens of scared shitless visitors on Sunday filing through the place with nametags “Hi– Rob me”


i agree, a tic [north of] $900 per sq ft. in the mish is funny; makes that silly lorax bldg on 22nd/valencia [3280 22nd St.] seem reasonable! btw, i think the whole bldg is a duplex, so 1 unit sells as a tic. i wonder how much dough they made from that architect-bend-over-take-it-up-the-ass-tour. actually, having a free open house 1 week later is fucking hilarious as well. funny shit!


My partner thinks I’m nuts to have thought of construction and future sale price of 425$/sq. ft.

1 million for TIC of 1200 sq the fucking hood? This I MUST see.

1303 Alabama St:


306 Mullen:


3280 22nd St. [look how quickly they sold, and it would be 3 units. ;-) ]:


That is some good shit and a good taste of what goes on. I was hesitant to post as you sent the same “shit” to other sites, but I’m over it, and always down for a good laugh. Thanks for sending in, and feel free to send more.

Green prefab?

by Tiffany Elston


I know what you’re probably thinking: a “green” prefab? Aren’t prefabs generally characterized by their cheap (and toxic) materials with no real aesthetic appeal?

Well that was until now! West Coast Green has decided to bring in a whole, full size beautiful green prefab to sit in Civic Center Plaza for the remainder of the week.

The mkLotus is designed by noted architect, Michelle Kaufman and built by XtremeHomes. The off site modular technology results in 50-70% less waste than traditional site building and has all the bells and whistles. The mkLotus comes equipped with a green roof, 100% solar generated power, rain and groundwater catchment system, gray water system, on-demand hot water heater and much more. The house was also designed to maximize daylight and cross ventilation while protecting occupant health with the use of no-VOC paints and other non-toxic materials.

If you don’t have time to attend the whole conference, at least make time to check out the mkLotus. And if you’ve got some extra time, Saturday of West Coast Green is specifically designed for homeowners. In addition to 250 (+) exhibitors on the trade show floor, there will be presentations on topics such as healthy homes, green design 101, and marketing and investing green.

[Tiffany has informed me that she has some passes, one of which I’ll take for sure, so if you’re interested, email her at tiffany @ greenkeyrealestate .com and you might get in for free to the trade show.]

West Coast Green

mkLotus official site

West Coast green mkLotus details


Saturday presenter schedule