Holliday Development

Many folks find that they can get more for their money by trekking across the Bay.

Here’s a look at two state-of-the-art lofts in converted industrial buildings — one East Bay (Emeryville), one West Bay (San Francisco) that underscore the price differentials. Both are from the same dynamic duo team — architect David Baker and developer Rick Holliday. Admittedly they aren’t direct comparisons, as the San Francisco penthouse is bigger and in a more chi-chi location, but they give an idea of the price differences.

First up, here is a “gorgeous light-filled” one-bedroom, one-bathroom in an historic Emeryville warehouse. At $2,450 a month for 1,300 square feet, it was snapped up within a week, said leasing agent Jeanne Zimmerman of McGuire Real Estate/Urban Bay Properties in San Francisco. “It would be about $3,800 if it were in San Francisco,” she said, pointing to the Hueblein Building as an equivalent SF comp.

Next, take a look at this penthouse unit in San Francisco’s landmark ClockTower building with one bedroom plus an office space and two bathrooms. It also found a tenant quickly. At 1,925 feet it went for $6,500.
Believe it or not, in the early 1990s when Holliday converted the 1907 ClockTower building, originally the home of a lithography company that printed California fruit-crate labels, to 127 open-floor-plan live/work units, people “thought I was out of my mind,” he said. The South of Market/South Beach area seemed like a wasteland at the time. “Then the building sold out,” he said. “It blew everyone away; it was written up in Esquire magazine.”

The condos that sold for $250,000 “back in the day” now hover around $1 million with some of the better ones going for $2 million, Holliday said.

A side note on live-work lofts. Zimmerman said they have an unusual competitive situation where potential residents have to vie with corporate renters.

“I see a lot of small businesses and startups competing with residential customers for them,” she said. “The companies are looking to lease them for office space, and use the bed upstairs in the loft area for executives who travel or employees who work late.”

Carolyn Said is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. For insights and news on Bay Area real estate, follow her on Twitter: @csaid

Many folks find that they can get more for their money by trekking across the Bay.