Developer wants to build large apartment project next to East Bay BART station
July 13, 2017

Developer Westlake Urban is close to approval on 197 apartments at its San Leandro Tech Campus, as a decade-long effort to build next to the BART station gains momentum.

The City Council will vote to potentially approve the housing project at 601 Parrot St. on Monday. The project requires a plan change in the San Leandro Tech Campus, which is approved for up to 500,000 square feet of office space but no housing.

Sunny Tong, Westlake Urban managing director, was optimistic that the project would win approval. “Staff is very supportive,” he said. “It’s smart growth. We’re putting housing next to employment.”

The tech campus complex includes a 132,000-square-foot building at 1600 Alvarado St. leased by tech firm OSIsoft that opened last year. A second 130,000-square-foot office building is under construction with no tenants and asking rents of $39 per square foot. JLL is the broker.

As the Bay Area’s economy has boomed, more office tenants and residents have sought locations near public transit hubs, and BART owns 200 acres of land that could be transformed into new buildings. But growth has been uneven, with some stations seeing hundreds of new housing units, while other projects are still frozen.

San Leandro’s transit-oriented development strategy around its BART station was approved in 2007, but the recession delayed new construction. San Mateo-based Westlake Urban initially had approvals for 700 housing units, but switched the plan to office space. It’s now seeking to build a portion of that housing.

If approved, Tong hopes to break ground on the seven-story housing project in the spring of 2018 and open by early 2020. The budget is $75 million to $80 million. TCA Architects designed the project.

The third commercial building planned for the site could be either office space or a hotel with around 150 rooms, said Tong. He’s seeking final approvals for that building in the next nine months.

On another parcel adjacent to the BART station, Bridge Housing completed last year the 115-unit Marea Alta affordable housing project, which Westlake Urban partially funded. Bridge is now building a second phase of 85 affordable senior apartments. The 601 Parrot St. project will be all market-rate units.

Westlake Urban¬†dropped plans to build a 460-unit project at San Francisco’s Kirkham Heights, the largest housing proposal in the Sunset district. It has sites in Foster City, Oakland, San Jose and Walnut Creek where it may pursue projects, but it is being more careful about picking its next projects.

As a result, Gaye Quinn, a Westlake Urban managing director, recently left the company. “Projects she was working on might not be going forward,” said Tong.

Tong said her departure was amicable. Quinn didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We do have limited resources. We’re being very selective,” said Tong.

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