ULI San Francisco Blog

Marlow Hits a Home Run in Russian Hill

On Tuesday, March 25, over 70 ULI members toured Marlow, a new 98-unit residential project located in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood.  The tour was led by Mike McCone, Vice President of Development at Oyster Development, and Garrett Frakes, Principal at Polaris Pacific.

Mike McCone started the tour with a discussion on the property’s history. According to Mike, Dean Givas, the head of Oyster Development, purchased the land for Marlow in 2010. Initially entitled for 62 senior housing units, the Oyster Development team re-entitled the property over a 15-month period to 95 residential condominium and three, four-story townhomes. During the entitlement process, Oyster Development made the conscious decision to switch from paying an in-lieu fee for the development’s affordable housing requirement to providing 15 onsite affordable housing units.

After discussing the acquisition and entitlement history of the property, Mike went on to the evolution of Marlow’s architectural design, something he’s passionate about given his background as a licensed architect. According to Mike, Marlow was designed as an L-shape building with checker-bay windows and a playful exterior. The developers also decided to reduce the number of amenities at development, since Marlow resides in such an amenity-rich neighborhood. The team decided to provide all of the amenities at Marlow Park, an outdoor common area at the rear of the building that boasts a bocce ball court, outdoor seating and a barbeque.

Following his discussion on the Marlow design, Mike then delved into how Marlow was financed.  He explained how Marlow was initially financed as apartments, since it was extremely difficult to finance condominiums in the wake of the Great Recession. Oyster Development was able to convince their lender to sell condominiums instead of apartments provided they could pre-sell 40 condominiums before construction was complete. The team, with the help of the brokerage Polaris Pacific, was able to exceed that goal, selling all 98 units in an 11-month period from an offsite sales center.

Mike then handed over the discussion to Garrett Frakes, who emphasized how the lack of inventory in the San Francisco aided sales at Marlow. Garrett recounted how the sales team at Marlow reached out to resale brokers letting them know there was actually inventory at Marlow. In fact, one broker came in and immediately put in an offer in for his client, who had recently put in over four different offers on four existing homes in San Francisco and was outbid each time.

After Garrett discussion on the sales of the property, Mike concluded his talk thanking the entire team that helped Marlow come to fruition: Tricon Capital, who provided equity financing; Kwan Hemni, who designed the property; Build Group, who constructed the property; National Real Estate Advisors, who provided the construction loan, Allis Inc., who served as the creative and branding agency; and Polaris Pacific, who served as the sales and marketing agency. After Mike’s discussion, all of the attendees toured Marlow Park, the outdoor amenity space, and two homes on the eighth floor of the building.

While Marlow is currently sold out, Oyster Development has recently started sales at Vida, a 114-unit condominium development in San Francisco’s Mission District. For further info on Vida, please go to vidasf.com.

Authored by: Lindsay Lessman, Polaris Pacific

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