Downtown Walnut Creek updates

This little town of ours is always growing and changing. It seems like every other day, we have a new restaurant popping up in the place of a restaurant that was just formerly new, or an apartment complex taking over an empty lot. Here’s some more news:

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There are some rumors floating around about a couple of Hall Equities Group projects.  The first one is there is Prime Hotel Site noted on their website which looks to be the corner of Ygnacio and Civic that will have a large conference space.  There is nothing noted on the City of Walnut Creeks site, but on Hall Equities site they show a rendering of a hotel. Check it out!  Walnut Creek has not seen a new hotel in many, many years, but note: there is a new hotel, A Marriott’s Residence Inn currently being built on the corner Pringle and California (2050 California) where the Jaguar dealership and Bank of the West used to be.

The second rumor may be a high-end spa and hotel where the KFC used to be on California & Botelho. Hall & Associates has been trying to develop it for a few years, but were trying to push on the height restrictions and no resolution occurred, so we will see if this comes to fruition.

And while some of us had gotten used to going to the food truck village in McDonald’s old site by Xtreme Pizza (it was awesome!!), that will become a condo building with some rentable rooms. Those are popping up all around town, but I think it makes sense given the growth in Walnut Creek. And most builders have been pretty smart about making buildings that won’t be eyesores.

There are some condos by BART (Main and Civic), two new apartment buildings right by BART and Riviera (a little Walnut Creek BART transit village), and a big new complex called The Lofts. This is all going in right by BART, and will increase the traffic even more over there. Surely, we will see more buildings, more condos, and definitely more new restaurants and bars infiltrating Walnut Creek in the coming years. Keep an eye out for these new projects!

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Newell Promenade becoming apartments soon?

I have some unsurprising news, fellow Walnut Creekians: another block of high-rise apartments is expected to go up in the downtown area soon.


This time, it’ll be where the Newell Promenade is (360 Burritos, former home of Taxi’s, etc.), across from Kaiser. A developer bought the commercial space and they want to develop it into a mixed space with retail on the bottom and more apartments above. It would include a 5-story, 120,574-sq. ft. building with 102 residential apartments, more retail than is currently in the plaza, plus two levels of parking.

There have been discussions about utilizing the creek in that area; I can see a restaurant with a patio overlooking the creek, but then where would the front entrance be?

The developers who bought the buildings in the Newell Promenade have had conversations about presenting ideas formally to the Parkmead and other surrounding neighborhoods. So far, they’ve had two conversations with members of the Parkmead Community Association but only got some basic input and opinions; not a representation of the entire community.  There have also been some informal meetings amongst home owners and attendance at the planning committee.

Walnut Creek City Council asked the group to prove more what they want to do and to make the presentation more user-friendly.  Then we will see how it works out. I asked my favorite cleaners – Vogue, who currently are doing business in the Newell Promenade, what their thoughts were. They think it will be a few years out before anything happens and they have another two years on their lease, so they can’t worry about what will be and only continue to focus on their business. My biggest concern will be how much the rents will go up and whether my cleaners will be able to stay at that location.

You can get more information on the development proposal at this link.

Also, on a sidenote, the city is finally putting in a z-shaped crosswalk to make it safer. We won’t have to worry about running over people scurrying across that busy road between Kaiser and Newell Promenade!

East Bay housing market is shifting

housing-marketLately, we’ve started to see a “shift” in the Walnut Creek-area housing market. Price appreciation growth has slowed and we are now seeing more price reductions. Home price appreciation has generally declined to single-digit annual appreciation with estimates in the next year of 3-5 percent.

In the 24/680 corridor, homes are sitting on the market longer than they did in the Spring (20-26 days, as compared to 15-20 days). I am receiving 1-3 offers  with a final sales price of 4 percent over the asking price on most of my listings.

The Federal Reserve Bank will not increase interest rates this month. Currently, the best mortgage interest rate for a 30-year fixed rate is approximately 3.5 percent. In the big picture, global growth concerns remain the driving force behind the long-term trend toward lower rates.

Kitty Cole, who coaches many Bay Area agents, has noticed two distinct Bay Area markets. Many of them are side by side. Check out her insights:

Some of the market (still a seller’s market) is hot, with low DOM’s, high Sales Price to List Price ratios, low inventory, no contingencies, multiple offers and buyers aplenty. This market is going on in Oakland, Berkeley and surrounding cities.

It looks similar to the last 4 1/2 years. The only thing that is quite different is the number of offers that was 10-25 a few months ago, and is now 2-6 (and occasionally higher). This market requires savvy pricing and negotiating to get your seller the highest price. san-francisco

The other part of the market (a buyer’s market) has slowed with these factors in place: price reductions (up to 10 percent, and sometimes two before it brings an offer), contingent offers (contingent upon the sale of another property), high DOM’s, few offers (sometimes only one!), expired listings, cranky sellers and demanding buyers (because they can be!).

In the city, one client whose specialty is high-rise condos, literally slowed overnight and now the DOM’s for her listings are more than 30 days. Another San Francisco agent has had three listings expire in the past three months. One agent in the East Bay (Pleasant Hill) is stymied by her listings that sold within seven days and are now sitting for weeks. Many newer agents are not prepared to have the “I need a price adjustment to sell your property” conversation.  In three months, it will be different … how, I don’t know, wished I had that elusive crystal ball.