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Read below recent article by Bisnow - including our recent development Fallon Street, with St Regis Development. Find original article here.

Developing in Oakland is a point of pride for St. Regis Properties Director of Development Sam Remcho. While the Oakland native started his career as a broker, he always wanted to develop and loved the idea of working with land and construction. He teamed up with St. Regis Properties Chairman John Allen and President Nick Allen in 2012. The family-owned Bay Area-based business has since made strides to build more housing in Oakland and throughout the country.

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Courtesy of Sam Remcho / St. Regis Properties St. Regis Properties Director of Development Sam Remcho

“We like Oakland because of the people, the open space, the ease of transportation, the great weather, the employment opportunities and the overall quality of life,” Remcho said. St. Regis Properties is part of a growing group of developers building housing in Oakland. With housing projects becoming too difficult to pencil and more red tape in San Francisco, developers are preferring to build housing in the East Bay, where the housing need and demand is just as high. Large employers also are moving into Oakland and the East Bay, where many of their employees live. Oakland has shed its label of being a secondary market to San Francisco, and developers are recognizing it as a market unto itself. “Oakland has its own culture and own attraction,” Remcho said. “You can do everything you want here. There is fine dining and entertainment.” Housing is in high demand in Oakland as well and new projects are leasing up quickly. St. Regis Properties has three projects in the works and one completed project. Its first Oakland project, Idora, a JV with Signature Development in the Temescal neighborhood, is nearly leased up since it was completed in April. The 33-unit apartment complex includes 2,400 SF of retail, which could be filled in part by a restaurant, according to Remcho.

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The transit-oriented complex at 5239 Claremont Ave. is a mix of one- and two-bedroom units. Courtesy of St. Regis Properties Idora Apartments in Oakland

The developer has fast become a part of the city’s downtown resurgence. St. Regis Properties began construction on a parking lot at Eighth and Broadway in 2016 and will turn the site into a 50-unit apartment complex with 4K SF of ground-floor retail. The five-story market-rate complex will have one- and two-bedroom units with two townhome units tucked in the back of a courtyard. A roof deck will offer games and entertainment, barbecues and fire pits as well as views of Downtown Oakland and the Oakland Hills. It also is three blocks from the 12th Street BART station. “Everything is right there,” Remcho said. “It has culture and transit and the Downtown Oakland office component too. It is just a very well-located project.” The developer is working through entitlements for a 58-unit project on Fallon Street near Laney College. The project, designed by Lowney Architecture, would have a mix of studios, and one- and two-bedroom market-rate apartments. Amenities include a fitness center and an indoor/outdoor seventh-floor terrace with views of Lake Merritt, barbecues and an open air canopy. The project will offer bike storage and a mechanical parking system from CityLift. For St. Regis Properties’ biggest Oakland development so far, it teamed up with Essex Property Trust and Swenson Builders to build a 294-unit complex at 412 Madison St. in Jack London Square.  Remcho had his eyes on 412 Madison for years and often visited the area near where his mother lived. He started talking to the landowner years ago and built a good relationship. He saw the site as ideal for a tower with views of Oakland Hills and the bay. Jack London Square has been a desirable place for development with its waterfront and retail and restaurants, but sites are limited. Buildings in that area are historic and are often harder to redevelop. Even with its waterfront setting, it has been very slow to develop. The area has not yet been built up much for the same reasons Oakland has not had a lot of development.

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“The last few development booms Oakland was left behind or caught on so late in the cycle it didn’t have much to show for it," Remcho said. Why It’s Becoming Easier To Develop In Oakland Courtesy of St. Regis Properties Rendering of St. Regis Properties' project at Eighth and Broadway in Oakland With thousands of units in the pipeline in the city, Oakland is becoming a huge part of the current wave of development in the Bay Area. “I haven’t seen this type of momentum in Oakland in my career,” Remcho said. The city’s planning department has been accommodating to developers and great to work with, according to Remcho. “Oakland is excited,” Remcho said. “A lot of [the planning staff] have been with the city for a while and they haven’t had this kind of excitement.” Getting financing has become a little bit easier in Oakland as well, but lenders remain cautious. Before the current development boom, lenders did not have projects to compare, which made financing difficult, according to Remcho. Now they have new product, rental information and market data to make better estimations. Large institutional capital and some national developers have entered the Oakland market. Blackstone and CityView are working on a project on Broadway, for example. “Oakland has become a very solid core market,” Remcho said. Financing has changed not just in Oakland, but for any project as lenders become more cautious later in the cycle. Previously, developers could come in with 25% or 30% equity, but now they need 35% to 45% equity. Developers like St. Regis Properties are getting more creative and teaming up with strategic partners or other investors to help fill in the gaps. Why It’s Becoming More Challenging To Develop In Oakland Courtesy of St. Regis Properties Rendering of St. Regis Properties' project on Fallon Street in Oakland

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Along with challenging financing, the cost of construction and labor also has been on the minds of the developers like St. Regis Properties. Remcho said the developer will pay to keep quality subcontractors who do a good job and are reliable. Impact fees, which go toward affordable housing and infrastructure projects, are expected to increase $2,400/unit in July. While Remcho said St. Regis Properties is happy to pay these fees as a way to give back to the community, they also add to the price of development. Developers also are increasing security efforts at construction sites following a spate of fires in Oakland and Emeryville. While developers build on vacant or underused land, they are fast running out of available land in Downtown Oakland. “It’s a challenge to find quality sites with realistic expectations from sellers,” Remcho said. These challenges certainly are not deterring St. Regis Properties from wanting to develop more in Oakland. Remcho said the developer will need to be more creative in site selection and is eyeing sites not widely targeted, such as places in East Oakland and sites east of downtown. “You’ll see more of us,” he said.

 

The Rise and Expansion of Multi-Family and Mixed-Use Development in Oakland

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Bisnow event - The Rise and Expansion of Multi-family and Mixed-Use Development in Oakland, was held on May 9th 2017 at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center in Oakland. Our Director Ken Lowney joined the panel and shared some insights about the challenges developers face and projects the firm is currently working on.

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From the right: Charles Long - Junction Properties, Michael Johnson from UrbanCore Development, Ken Lowney - Lowney Architecture, Doug Leventon - Alliance Residential, Robert Raburn from BART, and far Left (moderator) Todd Williams from Wendel Rosen.

Topic of discussion was the expansion of Mixed-Use developments in Oakland. Specifically the challenges of developing successful and inclusionary buildings that cater to both market rate and affordable, with just the right amount of parking and retail to meet the demands and fit into the context of the area.

Also spoken about was how Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is key for the growing demands of residents and in particular how residents are opting for bike share and BART - reducing the need for parking spaces.

Michael Johnson from UrbanCore Development had some interesting things to say about their project Lake Merritt tower under development with EBALDC and The Oakland City Council. The site was originally proposed as 100% market rate however after feedback from the community, the site will now be 30% affordable and have a focus on inclusivity with things like shared amenities and common areas for all residents. This project is similar to Lowney Architetures Mixed-Use TOD project with Bridge Housing at the El Ceritto BART station that includes live-work and flex space, shared open space, and local and neighborhood retail. It will include a total of 234 housing units, with 30% affordable.

 

 

Albany Sprouts Grand Opening

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We are pleased to announce our project with Oppidan Investment Company, Sprouts Albany had its official opening on April 26th 2017. This grocery-store-anchored shopping center is 28,000 SF, alongside two secondary retail buildings currently under construction, comprising a total of 45,000 SF. The land features a pedestrian and bicycle path and trail, as well as a public art piece currently underway.

The land is leased from the University of California and frames a gateway into graduate student housing at UC Village beyond, serving the local community in Albany, CA as well as the students.

 

SENIOR DESIGNER

Lowney Architecture is a vibrant 30-person design-oriented architecture firm in downtown Oakland. We work on a variety of projects, with a focus on multi-family residential, mixed-use, and retail. We create beautiful places that advance the quality of life in their communities and with an environmentally aware approach. Our office culture is one of casual professionalism. We work hard and we push each other, but we never forget to have fun in the pursuit of excellence. We want you to enjoy working here.

We are seeking a highly qualified senior designer with in depth experience in multi-family housing projects with a minimum of 7-10 years of relevant professional experience.  The ideal candidate has an in depth knowledge of constructability, is confident giving design presentations, is versatile with generating digital 3D design ideas, and has a diverse portfolio of clearly resolved built work. The position is full-time. Compensation is based on experience and skill-set. The successful candidate must be legally authorized to work in the United States.

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Architecture – Master’s degree preferred
  • 7-10 years of post-academic, professional design experience [at least 2 years of which is in mixed use residential and/or high-rise projects]
  • Able to quickly and efficiently produce working/study models and presentation quality renderings using SketchUp (with rendering plug-ins)
  • Exceptional design, management, organization, and communication skills
  • Proficiency in Revit a must have – expertise a plus
  • Extensive knowledge of architectural design, detailing, building materials and methods, building codes, and comprehensive understanding of the entitlement process
  • Applicants must excel in working collaboratively and effectively with the ability to lead fast-paced projects through all phases of project delivery, while fostering team spirit and an atmosphere of teaching and learning
  • Highly organized, collaborative and detail oriented

 

Please email your cover letter to elisabeth@lowneyarch.com, resume and portfolio in pdf form [10MB max file size]. Thank you for your consideration.

Field trip to SFMOMA

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This past Thursday, Lowney Architecture ventured out of the office and over to SFMOMA for some full-scale design inspiration. We took a guided tour of the Mario Botta building and Snøhetta addition, stopping in to appreciate the art exhibits along the way.

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In the same trip, we stopped at Panoramic's office to experience the first of many MicroPAD units we have worked with Panoramic in designing, where we then answered the question, "How many architects does it take to fill an SRO unit?" (Answer: At least 18)


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Afterward, we were treated to a beautiful dinner at Hakkasan, a Cantonese restaurant in the heart of San Francisco. (Highly recommend it!)


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Images courtesy of our very own Nick Gomez.

Happy Halloween from the Lowney Team!

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It may look like any ordinary day at Lowney, but a few of us definitely forgot to shave this morning. Happy Halloween! May it be full of plaid shirts and scruffy beards. 

Lowney Architecture Stays Profitable by Design, Lands ‘Best Year Ever’

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Publication: San Francisco Business Times
By Richard Procter
Photo: Spencer A Brown

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Lowney Architecture Welcomes New Leadership

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Publication: Seattle Post

Elisabeth Sporer to work with founder Ken Lowney on forging a sustainable future for the firm Oakland, CA (PRWEB) December 22, 2014 Lowney Architecture – one of the top 100 fastest-growing private companies in the San Francisco Bay Area as...

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