Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Abandoned California Business Campus To Become Mixed Residential/Commercial Community

While a lot of money is coming to the Midwest from California because real estate return on investment is higher here, that doesn't mean development has come to a halt in the Golden State. Codding Enterprises, a real estate company with a history in the shopping center industry, plans to transform the former Agilent Technologies campus -- a 200-acre office park -- into Sonoma Mountain Village, a high-density community with 1,900 housing units and 750,000 square feet of commercial space including a significant retail core surrounding a town square. The estimated $1 billion project would utilize the latest principles of sustainability, green technology and new urbanism and take approximately 10 to 15 years to build out.

In preparation for the redevelopment of the vacant property, Codding already has spent $7.5 million to create what is being called the largest privately-funded solar power installation in Northern California. The 90,000 sf of solar panels are capable of generating 1.14 megawatts of power, enough to run 1,000 homes. Central heating and cooling would be provided by a converted power plant left behind by Agilent.

A Codding spokesperson told Globe Street news service that housing will be oriented to take advantage of passive cooling created by prevailing northwest winds, and a network of cisterns will collect rainwater to flush toilets. To promote walking and riding bicycles over driving, the residential units--ranging from 500-square-foot condominiums to 3,500-square-foot single-family homes--will be located within a five-minute walk of the town center and within 10 minutes of a proposed train station. The four large office buildings existing on the property will be refaced and converted into a mix of commercial, retail and residential space. The massive asphalt parking lots on the property would be ground up and used to pave the streets.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Word(s) Of The Day -- 'Valuation Process'

Valuation Process is the systematic method used by an appraiser to derive a value estimate of a property. Steps in the valuation process are:

- definition of the problem
- preliminary analysis
- data collection
- highest and best use analysis
- estimate of land value
- application of the three appraisal approaches (cost, market, income)
- reconciliation of value estimates
- report of value

Monday, March 19, 2007

Another Take On Adding Value

I've been writing lately about adding value with investment properties. This means finding a way to add income beyond rents from residents or office tenants. So it was with some chuckling on my part when I found the following site, The idea is that if you have a spare room -- or a parking space -- that you don't use, use the web system to find a "renter" for your extra space. Essentially you become a private storage unit for people who are willing to pay for space to store their junk, precious possessions, whatever!

It could work with a spare room at an office, or extra area in an apartment building. Still, you could utilize that space and turn it into a rentable storage unit for your tenants or residents. Whether you consider the acquisition of existing storage unit businesses (like in my preceding post), or this new concept of using the 'Net to seek or advertise space, the phenomenon of people paying someone else to store "stuff" is not going away any time soon.

So if you're a real estate investor, you should always be thinking "value-added." I do!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Ever Think About Self-Storage Units?

Increasingly, one of the better real estate investments is in self-storage units. Sound crazy? Many, many people need more space to store their junk, and never have enough around the house. Or hubby can't let go of his past. Or someone inherits Aunt Glady's belongings and doesn't know what to do with them, so they rent a storage unit.

Frequently, when working with clients, we look for "value-added" characteristics of an investment property. It might be as simple as adding coin-op washers and dryers. Shopping mall and strip center operators regularly take advantage of additional revenue opportunities seasonally, such as renting ground for Christmas tree lots. I have been involved with two different properties where there was additional ground that would be perfect for construction and operation of storage lockers, in Franklin and Hocking Counties in Ohio. Don't think the possibilities are there? Read on.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Morningstar Properties LLC and Chicago-based Harrison Street Real Estate Capital have formed a $200-million joint venture to acquire, develop and redevelop self-storage facilities. The joint venture will focus on properties in the Carolinas. It is expected that the joint venture will acquire $200 million in property over the next three years. The joint venture was launched with the acquisition of three assets totaling 1,589 units in the Charlotte, Fayetteville and Carrboro/Chapel Hill, markets with a value of $13 million. The Charlotte facility is located in the CBD where recent condominium development has added or will add 5,000 units. The Fayetteville property is located near Fort Bragg Military Base and the Carrboro asset is near Chapel Hill, where 50,000 students and facility live each year.

“The self-storage asset class remains highly fragmented. With over 45,000 self-storage facilities in the US still largely held by local operators, we have targeted the self-storage market given the excellent risk-adjusted returns one can achieve as the sector consolidates,” said Harrison Street Real Estate Capital principal Robert Mathias in an interview with

So there you have it. The big boys see the possibilities. Even on a smaller scale, self-storage presents significant opportunities for owners who have a few acres of unused ground adjacent to their retail, multifamily or commercial investment.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

European Real Estate Site Gathers, Organizes Property Ads

As a gadget lover and early adopter of new technologies, I just had to share this interesting bit of news. A European property search engine, called, launched in beta in November. It includes for-sale and rental listings from many countries that are somewhat integrated with Google Maps (clicking on the map will provide a list of properties in the general area, but properties are not individually mapped).

The name apparently derives from paparazzi -- those are the annoying, invasive, parasitic photographers who chase celebrities. The site's listings are collected "from thousands of Web sites," according to a site description. Free to use, it requires no registration. The company, based in Barcelona, Spain, says it is not an agency, a broker or a publisher. According to, it is "a Web site that gathers and organizes property ads, and then helps people find the Web sites that publish those ads." Property types include houses, plots, bungalows, farms, castles, developments, apartments, town houses, penthouses, mews, ranches, studios, villas and flats. Tom Dibaja of told Inman News in an interview this week that there are about 1.3 million properties currently listed at the site. An enhanced version of the Web site is due out next week.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

New 'Business Advisory' Blog Is Up And Running!

As the kids would say, I want to give a "shout out" to my colleagues at Business Network Associates in Central Ohio. This is an organization of entrepreneurs who meet weekly to share ideas on building businesses, trade opportunities, and problem solve. As a member of the group, they asked me to help them set up a weblog where BNA members could publish information of interest to their clients.

So I set up the Business Network Advisory. I hope you'll check it out and let us know what you think. The address is:

Back On The Air

Man, the flu can get you down like you can't believe!

I've been down for the count on and off for several weeks, and unfortunately I've not been able to post as I would have wished. Either didn't have time, or just didn't feel like it!\

But I'm back on the air and will be posting regularly. Also am getting caught up with clients who have been patiently waiting on me to mend. Thanks for your support and your patience!