In The Press:
The Wall Street Journal Online News
November 20, 2009: 01:30 PM ET
Bridge Bank Provides Construction Financing of Custom Luxury Homes in Atherton, California
|Bridge Capital Holdings (NASDAQ: BBNK), whose subsidiary is Bridge Bank, National Association, a full-service business bank headquartered in Silicon Valley, announced today it has provided construction financing to two local premier developers for the construction of custom luxury homes in Atherton, California.|
|Jeff Wise of Wise Building Company and Oskar Kalbali of KAL Construction have each been in business for more than 10 years and clients of the Bank for multiple projects. Bridge Bank provided financing for the construction of the speculative project homes that recently sold at the high end of the market in the exclusive area of Atherton, CA. The Wall Street Journal recognized these developers in an article earlier this month, which attest that both of these developers have successfully created a niche in the development of luxury, custom homes that are sought out by those individuals interested in living in this prestigious locale.|
|"Bridge Bank is proud to work with top tier developers like Wise Building Company and KAL Construction," said Kimberly Rysyk, Senior Vice President, Construction and Commercial Real Estate Division at Bridge Bank N.A. "They both demonstrated their ability to perform in a difficult market by delivering exceptional homes to the marketplace. We are thrilled to be able to provide financing options for those developers that have proven they know the market and can deliver high quality homes.”|
|See Complete Wall Street Journal Article...|
The Wall Street Journal Online News
November 5, 2009: 12:14 PM ET
A View of Atherton From Real-Estate Agents
|Atherton, Calif., is the mansion Mecca for many of Silicon Valley’s tech multi-millionaires. And so far in 2009, even though home sales and median property sale prices in the town have slowed from a year ago, The Wall Street Journal found that there hasn’t been as little activity as some techie buyers might think.|
|So how do some real-estate agents who sell homes in Atherton see it? Catherine Marcus, a real-estate agent in the area for Sotheby’s International, says that home sales in the posh town were slow at the beginning of the year. “Nobody was buying and it was very scary,” she says. But “listings since July and August are getting snapped up,” she adds.|
|Tom Dallas, another real-estate agent who sells homes in Atherton and other nearby towns, says, “Definitely there is a little pickup, not in the extreme high-end homes above $15 million, but there is activity in the $4 million to $10 million range. People are calling and saying, ‘What do you have?’”|
|Marcus and Dallas say there is pent-up demand for luxury homes in Atherton as people have waited for prices to fall. The town’s location–halfway between San Francisco and San Jose–and the relatively large parcels of land available in the town are highly coveted among the techie set, they note.|
|“There’s still plenty of demand in Atherton,” says Jeffrey Wise, a builder of luxury homes in Atherton who recently got a pre-emptive offer–of around $14 million–on a house he was constructing in the town.|
|Chateau d'Avingon in Atherton, California|
|First Commercial 'Green' Building Built in S.J.|
|See Complete Article...|
San Jose's City Hall prides itself on it, some homes are modeled after it and now a San Jose developer is basing his business on it.
The concept of going green.
"This is the first green commercial building in San Jose," said building owner Arzhang Kalbali.
The McKee Green Plaza looks like any other building on the city's East Side.
But walking through the two story building, it's clear the goal is energy efficiency and sustainability.
As far as the construction of this building, all the lights up above, they're on timer and they're low watt. And every single door and window is double-paned and every suite has a minimum of six sky lights. The cost for the owners to make sure the building went green - an extra $200,000.
"If we have a business that's a green building it will benefit not only us as a business owner but also as a community," said Kalbali.
"It's a community effort to achieve a green vision in doing what we can collaboratively," said Mary Tucker from the San Jose Department of Environmental Services.
This year, the city of San Jose unveiled its green vision - a 15 year plan aimed at cutting environmental problems and becoming a green model nationally, for technology and growth.
'It gives you shade at the same time there is light through to the inside," said Kalbali.
Kalbali hopes his plaza will act as a local model for developers in Silicon Valley.
"What they're doing at McKee Green Plaza is an example of what can be done with all the retail around the city," said Tucker.
According to PG&E, there are only about 15 buildings under construction right now, in San Jose, following the green concept.
Tenants who move in could end up saving up to 40 percent on their energy bill every month, but they'll pay more in other areas.
Office spaces at the McKee Green Plaza lease for 25 cents more per square foot than other retail centers.
It's the cost of going green.
(Copyright ©2009 KGO-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
Spaces and Places: Going `green' can be costly, but benefits hard to ignore ©
August 22, 2006
By Katherine Conrad
Building 'green' -- as environmentally friendly construction is called -- isn't cheap. Nor is it easy, as the RUMI Group of San Jose has discovered as it builds the first green retail project in San Jose, on White Road near the intersection of McKee Road.
The developers will spend $200,000 above normal construction costs to build a 23,000-square-foot, two-story project that will offer efficient heating and cooling systems, reduced water usage and skylights. The project, which already has signed Subway restaurant as a tenant, could also attract medical and dental tenants, given its proximity to San Jose Regional Medical Center.
Convinced that "green" is the way of the future, Oskar Kalbali, a member of the RUMI Group, said he became a true believer during the recent heat wave. "We've got to use solar energy, otherwise things will get pretty bad," he said. "With the energy crisis we have, this is a route everybody has to take."
Mike Foster, San Jose's green building coordinator, said the developers have found the project challenging to build because it is the city's first green retail project and so must incorporate design elements that are not common to many of the South Bay's strip malls. The developers hope their investment in the $4 million project will be worth it, with tenants paying a higher rent to get lower energy bills. Projections call for utility bills of $1,000 a month to be cut by as much as 40 percent. Whether the project attracts environmentally conscious tenants remains to be seen because construction won't be done until spring.
The brokers marketing the property, Ara Bezdijan and Dion Campisi with Colliers International, say prospective tenants will decide whether to lease based almost certainly on the real estate axiom: location, location, location. More than its green features, Bezdijan predicted that prospective tenants will like that the project will be brand new in a neighborhood without much new construction -- even if they have to pay more in rent. McKee Green Plaza is asking $3.50 a square foot per month with a 12-cent discount, putting rates at $3.38. Neighboring retail is $3.25 a square foot.
In San Jose, it's Not Easy Building Green
SMALL PLAYERS FEEL STYMIED BY CITY HALL
June 20, 2006
By Katherine Conrad
When Oskar & Arzhang Kalbali decided to build San Jose's first green retail project, they didn't expect city planners to roll out the red carpet. Neither did they expect to run into red tape. But that's exactly what happened. Whether they asked for financial help to install solar panels, promptness in delivering permits or just some advice on how to build green, the brothers were stymied. Same thing for David Kaneda, who is turning a 1960s-era concrete bank building into the city's first commercial structure to meet its net energy needs from the sun.
Business as usual: Both the Kalbalis & Kaneda thought the city would greet their projects with excitement. But planners treated their projects just like any other. Which is to say, slowly. There was no one trained in sustainability issues, & no one assigned to oversee their efforts. "We told them, `I'm about to make this project happen, how can you help?'" said Arzhang Kalbali. "They said, `Here's some info, the rest of it is up to you.'" Added Kaneda: "I don't get the sense at all down at the rank & file that the (green) message has gotten to those people. It's business as usual."
Amir Kalbali, left, Mahin Adeeb, Oskar Kalbali & Arzhang Kalbali are owners of McKee Green Plaza, a retail project in East San Jose designed to be more energy efficient.
McKee Green Plaza is the first retail project built in San Jose using environmentally friendly construction.
This is a kiosk that the owners of the building envision renting to a flower merchant.
That attitude is in contrast to what newly elected San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed announced in March when he vowed to go for the gold level in Leadership in Environmental & Energy Design (LEED) certification. San Jose, it seems, is struggling to match its "walk" to its "talk." Reed is all too aware of the problems small businesses encounter. "It takes too long. It's too complicated & there's too many hoops to jump through," he told the Mercury News. "And it's not just green businesses." But Reed noted that the city has made some strides. In 2006, San Jose reduced the time it takes to obtain permits for solar panels from days to mere minutes, & lowered the permit fees for installing solar panels. Now he would like to explore offering a financing package to help owners buy & install the panels. In the meantime, he understands the importance of a trained staff. "We have to get people trained & educated about green building, so we're not starting from scratch."
Because it's not easy to build green. Upfront costs are significantly higher, adding at least 5 percent to the cost of construction. For Oskar Kalbali, head of KAL Construction, that meant spending $250,000 more to make his East Side retail plaza green. For Kaneda, it meant spending more than a $1 million. In the United States, some 900 million square feet has been certified as meeting energy & environmental standards, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. But city planning departments across the country are playing catch-up with the trend. San Jose is actually further along than many other municipalities, adopting its first green-building guidelines in 2001 & hiring a green-building coordinator in 2003. The city hosts green-construction workshops & supports building city projects that meet green standards. But no one in the planning department is trained in LEED-standard green benchmarks, an oversight that is about to change.
Evolving industry: Mike Foster, the city's green-building coordinator - the Kalbalis said he helped them connect with a PG&E energy consultant - said that despite the hoopla, green construction is still an emerging & evolving industry. "The private sector really wants to run with green," Foster said. "Employers such as Adobe recognize the tremendous opportunities to improve corporate image & improve the bottom line while improving the environment." But if you're not a big player like Adobe Systems, your efforts may not warrant the attention you'd like. Kaneda's rehab for the headquarters of his company, Integrated Design Associates IDeAs, on Old Almaden Road, has hit one roadblock after another. Sometimes, he said, it was his staff's fault, but sometimes it was not. He wishes the planning staff had been more eager to work with him on issues rather than simply pointing to the codes & shrugging their shoulders. Take storm-water drainage, for example. Kaneda hoped to set up a system that would allow rainfall to percolate through the earth, but planners insisted that codes required the storm water be routed off the site. In the end, Kaneda gave up. Each month spent going back & forth on issues meant another month paying for two buildings - one in San Jose & the other for his current office in Santa Clara. Joe Horwedel, head of the city's planning department, said the description of the staff's reaction was probably a "fair characterization" of how the projects - two of thousands that come through the door - were treated.
Working to change: The department is not set up to do a lot of hand-holding, Horwedel said - even if it's green. "We are committed to it," the planning director said. "It's not been perfect, we admit. But we're working to change the process to be a lot more friendly to green building." First up is hiring a green-building planner once the city council approves the budget. Next is sending at least one planner to the U.S. Green Building Council seminar in Chicago for training. Looking back, the Kalbalis said building green "wasn't an easy decision for us. But at the same time, with global warming, we need to do something," Oskar Kalbali said. For his part, Kaneda hopes the city will improve the process. "We wanted the building to be in San Jose, because San Jose is the major city in the South Bay," Kaneda said. "If we could do it again, I might reconsider that decision." But, he added, "If Chuck Reed is everything I'm reading about him & he follows through, then I made the right decision. If he really is walking the walk."
Workers put the finishing touches on newly poured cement on the ground floor of the project.
These are some of the tubular solar skylights that conserve energy. They are better than traditional skylights as they won't lose heat & won't cause UV damage to carpets & furniture.
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS
Real Estate Fantasy Homes
APRIL 22, 2006
Contemporary home on Loes Way features distinctive arched window with views of the valley and city lights.
Gated private road leads
to S. J. home with flair
WHAT: Two-story contemporary built in 2005; 18,731-square-foot lot; 3,545 square feet; five bedrooms, 3 ½ baths; kitchen with granite counters and island, breakfast nook; master bedroom with corner spa; dual-pane arched windows; valley and city-lights views; three-car garage.
WHERE: 3460 Loes Way, San Jose. Open today 1 to 4 p.m.
ASKING: $1.65 million
BROKER: Jeff Schacher, (408) 383-4807, Coldwell Banker
DETAILS: A private drive leads to one of only three houses in this gated enclave in the hills above San Jose.
Arched windows and alcoves are the dominant themes of this contemporary house with a Mediterranean flair. Step into the formal entry onto travertine floors under a dramatic chandelier. On one side is the dining room with accent lighting and an oversize arched window looking out on a beautiful old weathered oak. On the other is the living room with 11-foot ceilings, a fireplace with a slate hearth and mantel, and a sliding glass door opening onto a 20-by22-foot terrace.
The master bedroom has large arched windows on three sides, a mature pepper tree just outside, a view of downtown San Jose and a spa in the corner. The master bath features gleaming dual vanities and mirrors, slate flooring and a large walk-in closet. Downstairs, three bedrooms offer ample opportunity to indulge your individuality: media room, artist studio, exercise room or, of course, bedrooms.