About smallmanconstruction

Tim Smallman, the general contractor behind Smallman Construction and Electric, has been in the construction industry for over 20 years. In 2003, Tim decided to leave the corporate world behind and get back to what he loved most about construction: helping his friends, neighbors, and anyone in need achieve their home and business improvement dreams. By founding his company on a principal of customer service, open book bidding, and integrity, Tim has been blessed with a great deal of success. This success has enabled him to expand operations and create an electrical division in 2006. Tim has made San Carlos his family's home for many years. They spend a considerable amount of time supporting their community and striving to make it a great place to live and work. Tim is active in the San Carlos community, coaching youth sports, participating in the Kiwanis Show and the Chickens Ball since 1989, with the proceeds going to the San Carlos Schools and other charitable organizations.

Google to lease Moffett Field, re-skin Hangar One

A Google entity called Planetary Ventures has leased Hangar One.

A Google Inc. affiliate will lease the massive, 1,000-acre Moffett Field in a deal with the federal government that will also result in Hangar One being rehabilitated.

NASA and the General Services Administration announced the deal with Planetary Ventures LLC Monday. Financial terms of the deal have not been finalized.


UPDATE: Google to test robots, space tech, aviation in cavernous Hangar One at Moffett field.


Planetary Ventures is a shell company used by Google Inc. in some of its real estate dealings.

The deal doesn’t come out of the blue: Google’s executives have a longstanding relationship with NASA through a separate operating company called H211, which manages their aircraft at the base that straddles Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

H211 has previously offered to pay the government to rehab and lease Hangar One, the 1930s-era hangar that had its toxic siding removed in 2012, if it could store its planes there, but those offers were rebuffed. H211 is currently working with Signature Flight Support on an $82 million private airport at Mineta San Jose International airport.

The Monday deal more directly ties Google to the airfield. But it’s unclear if the company’s ambitions there go beyond its existing uses.

As a real estate play, this looks fairly limited: The government has previously said only a small portion of the airfield with the capacity for about 90,000 square feet of R&D space would be open for new development. That’s tiny relative to Google’s real estate appetite. (Here’s more on the lease opportunity.)

In a press release, the government said that Planetary Ventures would:

  • Rehabilitate and maintain the historic integrity of Hangar One and the Shenandoah Plaza Historic District
  • Eliminate NASA’s operating and maintenance costs for Moffett Federal Airfield
  • Leverage the expertise of the real estate industry to reposition Moffett Federal Airfield as a viable asset to support government and controlled public and private flight operations
  • Conform with the 2002 NASA Ames Development Plan and Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement
  • Provide net financial proceeds and best value to the government through an open, public competition

Specifics of the deal, according to a press release, would also include:

  • Rehabilitate historic Hangars 2 and 3
  • Create a public use/educational facility
  • Operate Moffett Federal Airfield in accordance with Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (such as maintaining the status quo such as airfield operations)
  • Comply with security and airfield management requirements

Lenny Siegel of the Save Hangar One committee said the deal looked like a good one for preservationists.

“They could have done it a couple of years ago, but they had to go through a process, and it looks good for the hangar,” he said.

Officials said there would be no change in the operation of the runway.

Using Video to Convey Complex Ideas in Engineering

wireless-audio-306be15-01

If a picture tells a thousand words then imagine what a video can do. Unlike any other medium, video is unique in its ability to bring together the moving image with sound, whether it be in the form of music or the spoken word. Visual aids have been proven to help people better digest the information being presented to them when compared to the written word.

The engineering industry often has the need to explain complex structures and systems to a non-technical audience, even in a B2B setting. It’s not something that the sector is always that well equipped for, partly down to the fact that marketing highly complex products requires highly technical marketers. Many engineering companies are now discovering the power of video though and are starting to experiment with more and more forms of video marketing.

Planning

As with any marketing strategy, planning is vital. It is essential that time is taken to produce a thorough strategy and work out who your audience is and what you are trying to tell them. You need to make sure your video’s overarching message isn’t drowned out in technical information.

Before you start your campaign, decide how video marketing will fit within your wider marketing strategy. You need to ask yourself questions such as: Through what different mediums will the video be distributed? Who are your audience? What overarching messages do you want to convey? What brand values are being brought to life?

Cut through the Noise

Consumers are often confronted with an overload of information, making it difficult for them to pick out important and relevant information from an abundance of technical data. Video can help to cut through the white noise by allowing the viewer to sit back and watch instead of having to search through dense paragraphs of text just to find what they need to know.

By using visual and audio stimuli videos are less easily forgotten than more traditional forms of marketing media, especially if they are original. To your consumers you must become a trusted source of clear and incisive information within the engineering industry, so that they feel they don’t need to go elsewhere.

Content

Your script needs to educate and entertain as well as encourage the audience to take some form of action, whether it’s contacting you for further information or visiting your website. You want it to be an engaging, visual piece, that’s easily understood.

Your content needs to not only complex information about your product or service, but also induce interest and engage on a human level. It’s vital to remember that application and utility are as important as the technical stuff. Understanding your audience and their expectations is key to striking this balance.

The channels in which you plan to distribute your video content is also vital when you come to work out what content to use. For example if you create a website video to be placed online the content of the video will likely be seen on the whole, by a far less technically minded audience, than a video used at a trade show.

Personal Connection

Video provides a more personal connection compared to text. If used correctly it can add personality and character to your business and brand; something some firms could be accused of lacking. Presenting a human side to your business can be the difference between engagement with your potential customers and boring them silly. Marketing any product or service requires a human dimension. All the technical information in the world is for nothing if your consumers don’t trust you and the words you are saying.

Differentiation

Video not only helps to build trust between yourself and your customers but also helps to differentiate your business, creating a competitive advantage. The engineering market is highly competitive and often relies on more old fashioned marketing methodologies. The rise of digital marketing over the last decade is finally beginning to permeate into the world of the engineering marketer though.

Just through integrating video marketing into your marketing mix an engineering firm can redefine its image and set itself aside from the rest. There are many firms that haven’t latched onto video marketing yet, so creating even the most low budget marketing videos could put you way ahead of the curve in your specialism.

 

Joe Cox writes for Hurricane Media, specialists in engineering video production and medical device animations.

Can Silicon Valley build its way out of a housing crisis?

As demand for affordable housing accelerates in Silicon Valley, some advocates argue that dense new residential units are the way to go. However, building new housing comes with several potential political complications.

As demand for affordable housing accelerates in Silicon Valley, some advocates argue that dense new residential units are the way to go. However, building new housing comes with several potential political complications.

by  –

Despite all the politics surrounding the issue of unaffordable housing in Silicon Valley, there’s one thing pretty much everyone agrees on: The root of the problem is a lack of places to live.

Just shy of 8,000 new housing units were approved in Silicon Valley last year, including large luxury projects. But that number pales in comparison to the 33,000 people that moved to the region last year, according to a new Silicon Valley Index report.

“We’re not even close to keeping up,” said Joint Venture Silicon Valley CEO Russell Hancock.

Affordable housing production in particularplummeted to a 15-year low recently. How much that housing stock can rebound has been clouded by a maelstrom of funding cuts, fallout from the foreclosure crisis and a a tech boom that has spurred dual demand for luxury and lower-priced housing.

To counteract the housing supply crunch — and hopefully improve affordability — market-rate residential developers, affordable housing developers, advocacy groups and Silicon Valley employers are looking toward dense, transit-oriented housing.

The catch: This approach, too, has potential political pitfalls, as development-phobic cities can put up red tape or electoral hurdles to building. – (development phobia and red tape are separate issues – Red tape with CEQA, wage scuffles apply to all area cities.) Beyond those obstacles, area cities have yet to define local implementation strategies for new housing plans like Plan Bay Area. Developers are also wary of new government fees and missing out on chances to develop larger, single-family homes in Silicon Valley suburbs.

A failure by politicians, developers and employers to follow a comprehensive plan for bolstering Silicon Valley’s housing supply has negative implications. Frustrated locals will continue paying more for less housing and sitting in traffic. Outside talent may balk at taking a job here for fear of putting themselves in the same plight.

“I get emails every day saying, ‘This brilliant person is moving to the South Bay. Do you know where they can find reasonably-priced housing?'” said Housing Trust Silicon ValleyCEO Kevin Zwick.. “No, I do not.”

The Density Debate

A mismatch between housing supply and demand has nagged Silicon Valley for decades, pushing up prices and landing the region on innumerable lists of the country’s most expensive places to live.

But in the last few years, a tech boom has compounded the demand for new housing at all income levels, resulting in both lower-earning residents and well-paid area professionals vying for housing in an overcrowded market. In 2013 alone, rents in the San Jose metro area shot up more than 10 percent to an average $2,153.

Economist Stephen Levy, director of the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy, said policies that provide for dense housing are “the only way” for housing supply to keep up with demand.

He said the challenge is conveying long-term implications of a housing shortage to residents and public officials in a city like Palo Alto, which has historically opposed dense multifamily housing due to concerns about crowds and traffic.

Levy explained that workers like teachers could be totally priced out. Major employers could also be alienated by poor planning, and then opt to expand elsewhere.

“Seeing those problems as connected is the breakthrough,” Levy said.

But developers question whether the region’s housing market really lends itself to increasing density, especially when there is more available land in less expensive fringe cities.

SummerHill Homes CEO Robert Freed gives the example of a consumer with $900,000 to spend on housing. In expensive markets like Cupertino, Menlo Park or Palo Alto, those funds could possibly buy a townhouse. In Morgan Hill or Gilroy, that money could buy a 3,000 square-foot house, he said.

“Some of these housing policies, which are created by planners — not created by developers — they don’t reflect what the consumer demands,” Freed said. “Any well-planned jurisdiction needs a range of housing.”

Matt Franklin, president of affordable housing developer MidPen Housing, favors density in targeted areas.

“Every community in Silicon Valley has really important transit spines that are often consistent with where their commercial hubs are,” he said. “If you want to preserve the much lower density in other parts of the community, the key is to take advantage of the places where it is appropriate.”

Several area cities are experimenting with new plans calling for relatively dense residential development, such as San Jose, Mountain View and Redwood City.

Linking Jobs and Housing

It may seem counter intuitive, but good jobs are actually a driving force of Silicon Valley’s housing crunch. Cities on the Peninsula in particular have more jobs than housing units — the ratio is about 3-to-1 in Palo Alto, according to Business Journal research — meaning that many residents commute from other cities to work.

Urban planning groups such as SPUR have been vocal advocates of “smart growth” proposals like Plan Bay Area and San Jose’s Envision 2040 plan that link housing with public transit and jobs. However, SPUR and others have also pointed out that many of the proposals are non-binding, meaning that concrete action on smart growth still comes down to developers and city planners.

Franklin said much of MidPen’s funding for new development is tied to building housing near jobs, transit and local services, which has even resulted in experimentation with mixed-use affordable residential and commercial developments.

“The biggest problem we have is we’re not doing enough of it,” Franklin said. “There aren’t enough financial resources.”

(Read more about funding for affordable housing right here.)

Freed said it does makes sense to prioritize rental affordable housing, particularly in areas where there is high demand.

“The goal should be to provide safe and clean, quality rental housing,” he told me. “The programs that are put in place to promote housing ownership I think are misguided and inappropriate.”

Freed, who also serves on the board of San Francisco affordable housing developer Bridge Housing, said affordable housing programs focused on single family homes are costly for developers and inefficient for meeting demand. He gives the example of a Menlo Park development where market rate homes sold for $1.5 million and two identical homes designated as affordable went for a deeply discounted $350,000.

“That helps two families,” he said. “How ridiculous is that?”

Building Blockages

On top of the difficulty inherent in settling on a regional plan for building diverse new housing options, there are several logistical uncertainties currently underlying Silicon Valley’s residential building process.

First, there are proposals for new housing impact fees, where developers would have to pay a per-square-foot assessment on market rate housing units to fund affordable housing. Read more about that debate going on in San Jose, Sunnyvale and East Palo Alto right here.

Then there is the statewide California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, which was (unsuccessfully) used in San Jose recently to challenge a new downtown luxury apartment building. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the local building community have been longtime advocates of CEQA reform, but labor groups maintain that the law is important for the residential development process.

“A lot of the (residential) developers — not all of them, probably most of them — are low-road operators,” said Ben Field, executive officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council. “The quality of the work isn’t good. The quality of the jobs isn’t good. There are a limited number of tools that are available to the community to address those problems. CEQA is one of those tools.”

Field said he is unaware of a local CEQA challenge to an affordable housing development, and added that all sides must be “very, very careful about ever misusing CEQA.”

Beyond CEQA, Fields’s Labor Council recently spearheaded an initiative in Mountain View to raise wages for the workers building affordable housing units. Housing advocates argued that new wage requirements, on top of their already severely reduced budgets, could hinder new development.

“They want to build as much affordable housing as they can, but our position is that you’re giving with one hand what you’re taking away with the other,” Field said. “You’re creating income inequality. You’re creating a greater demand for affordable housing.”

Instead of the statewide minimum wage, Mountain View in October 2013 approved the measure to require prevailing wages — or a city’s average wage — on affordable housing projects involving city funds.

In the meantime, advocates worry that a lack of short-term opportunities to bolster the region’s housing supply will compromise long-term economic growth in Silicon Valley.

“In terms of building affordable housing, it’s never been more difficult,” said Kate Comfort-Harr, executive director of San Mateo housing services nonprofit HIP Housing. “We’re going to hit a wall. I don’t know that anybody else has ever experienced that.”

This is part of a larger content package on Silicon Valley’s affordable housing crisis. Read“The Shadow of Success” here and the director’s cut version here.

Apartment Markets Soften Slightly

Apartment market conditions weakened a bit in January compared with three months earlier, according to a recently-released January 2014 Quarterly Survey of Apartment Market Conditions from the National Multi Housing Council.

Indicators for market tightness, sales volume and debt financing were slightly below breakeven level, although the equity financing index rebounded.

Higher interest rates may largely explain the modest decline in both sales volume and debt financing. With considerable equity capital continuing to look for apartment opportunities, a number of respondents noted a growing divide between would-be buyers and sellers on pricing.

“Apartment markets are little changed from October,” said Mark Obrinsky, NMHC’s Senior Vice President for Research and Chief Economist. “At least half of our respondents to each of our four main questions reported conditions as unchanged from three months earlier. Although markets are a little looser than in October, this is largely seasonal; overall markets remain fairly tight.

“New supply is finally starting to arrive at levels that will more closely match overall demand. In a few markets, we are seeing completions a little higher than absorptions, but this is likely to be short term in nature. Fundamentally, demand for apartment homes should be strong for the rest of the decade (and beyond) – provided only that the economy remains on track.”

Some respondents noted that the decline in market tightness was typical for this time of year and that conditions remain fairly tight.

Half of respondents reported sales volumes were unchanged from three months earlier, while one-third reported lower sales than in October. These results were similar to responses from the previous two surveys in July and October 2013.

The Equity Financing Index rose to 50 from 39. The majority of respondents (58 percent) continued to report that the availability of equity financing remains unchanged from three months ago. This is the ninth time in the past 10 quarters that more than half of the respondents considered conditions unchanged (and in that other quarter, the figure was 49 percent). Approximately one-fifth of respondents (18 percent) believed that financing was more available than three months prior, essentially the same as the share of respondents (17 percent) that said financing was less available.

The Debt Financing Index was essentially unchanged at 42. This was one point higher than the October index, which came in at 41. While this level was significantly below the year-ago figure of 74, half of respondents reported unchanged conditions for debt financing. Almost one-third (30 percent) regarded conditions as worse, in large part due to the rise in interest rates – and the prospect for further increases. Even so, 14 percent of respondents indicated conditions had improved.

Opinions continued to be mixed regarding the availability of capital for new development. The consensus was that debt financing was still widely available, but equity financing was perhaps a bit more constrained. Two-fifths of respondents reported both equity and debt financing as widely available, up slightly from October’s 34 percent. An almost equal percentage (39 percent) regarded debt financing as currently available but said equity financing was currently constrained; this figure was down from 43 percent in October. An additional 13 percent believed that both debt and equity financing are currently constrained, down from 21 percent. The remaining 8 percent reported equity financing as widely available, but debt financing constrained. [Note: These shares exclude respondents that chose “Don’t know/not applicable.”]

The January 2014 Quarterly Survey of Apartment Market Conditions was conducted January 6-13, 2014; 157 CEOs and other senior executives of apartment-related firms nationwide responded. Full survey data are available online here.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for all your property management needs. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.

Silicon Valley 2014 economic forecast: Talent crunch, M&A uptick, development sprawl

Christy Wyatt, CEO of Good Technology Inc., said at the Business Journal's 2014 Economic Forecast that recruiting and retaining talent is her company's top challenge for the year ahead.

With her mobile device management company heading toward a long-rumored IPO, Good Technology CEO Chisty Wyatthas one key potential roadblock on her mind:

“Talent, talent, talent. It’s the lifeblood of what we do,” Wyatt said on Wednesday at the Business Journal’s annual economic forecast.

Good Technology already employs more than 1,000 people, but Wyatt said the 18-year-old company views recruiting as an issue that requires more than high salaries. The company mapped transit options in various Silicon Valley cities and put down roots in Sunnyvale in hopes that they wouldn’t “miss out” on tech talent that has plenty of employment options — some of which include incentives like private charter buses, housing subsidies, free food and other over-the-top perks.

“Silicon Valley is unusual,” she said. “What motivates the key talent in the Valley is never their paycheck.”

Competition for talent prospects was one of several employer issues at the event that reflect side effects of a rapidly improving regional economy. While most economic indicators point to continued growth in 2014, the region is also at an inflection point for managing that growth.

“California seriously is the place to be,” said City National Bank Director of Taxable Fixed Income Paul Single. He highlighted Los Angeles and the Bay Area as state’s economic drivers.

While the last year was the best for IPOs since 2007, speakers said this year shows promise for the mergers and acquisitions market.

On the ground, economic growth will likely manifest with another busy year for real estate developers. As perennial strongholds like Palo Alto and Mountain View look to maintain momentum, developers are also circling lesser-known cities like Santa Clara and Redwood City for dense mixed-use projects.

The real estate boom could also push some existing companies out of the Peninsula and pricier South Bay markets. San Jose neighbor Milpitas and Fremont are two potential candidates to cash in on higher prices in better-known employment hubs, said Cushman & Wakefield Regional Research Director Petra Durnin.

Steve Eimer, executive vice president at real estate developer Related California, outlined his company’s hopes for a 230-acre development site across the street from the San Francisco 49ers’ new $1.3 billion Santa Clara stadium. Related is still studying the site, but Eimer said a proposed entertainment district could include up to 1,000 housing units.

“We’re in it for the long term,” Eimer said. “If all goes well, we would like to be under construction in late 2015, early 2016.”

With all the activity going on in neighboring Santa Clara, San Jose City Manager Ed Shikadasaid he sees “opportunities for synergy” between Santa Clara, downtown San Jose and the tech office-heavy North San Jose area.

Read more about today’s Economic Forecast in an upcoming print publication of the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Palo Alto’s College Terrace to start construction amid development headwinds

 

 
2100 El Camino

 
 

Palo Alto might have a tough-on-development reputation, but that hasn’t stopped some new projects from rolling forward.

Last week, Canyon Capital Realty Advisors said it had provided debt financing for College Terrace, a 66,000-square-foot mixed-use building at 2100 El Camino Real that was approved back in 2009, in a deal that will get the project under construction this year.

Meanwhile, Thoits Bros. Inc. late last year received all approvals for a 26,800-square-foot office building at 500 University Ave. in downtown.

That followed a green light in November of a 74,122-square-foot mixed-use building at 3159 El Camino Real from Tarleton Properties.

“It’s not rocket science why people want to invest there,” said Marti Page, a director at Canyon Capital, which provided a $49.5 million construction loan for College Terrace.

The Peninsula city has been Ground Zero for rising rents during the current market recovery. Average asking rents for office space were $5.49 a foot in the fourth quarter, according to Colliers International. That’s the highest in Silicon Valley, according to the brokerage.

The hot market has led to a development rush, but that has led in turn to some resident pushback. A successful initiative that many observers saw as a proxy for anti-development sentiment derailed a 60-unit senior housing project in November. The next month, Jay Paul Co. pulled a redevelopment proposal for 395 Page Mill Road after stiff opposition. A major project from John Arrillaga at 27 University Ave. is also on hiatus.

At a recent Cornish & Carey Commercial Newmark Knight Frank forecast event, partner Phil Mahoney called the ability to get approvals “a big story in 2014.”

One upshot: Projects with all their entitlements suddenly look a lot more attractive.

“What was compelling is, you’re dealing with a full city block, which is unique in Palo Alto, and it’s got this unique zoning, which over time has become increasingly coveted,” Page said of the project.

Canyon also liked that the project was not on a ground lease, unlike many of the properties in the area, which are on Stanford University-owned land.

“Really, it’s the location — you’re bound on one side by the university, and on the other by the Research Park,” she said.

The 1.4-acre project will include 45,000 square feet of office, 9,000 square feet slated for a grocery, 7,000 square feet of additional retail space and eight below-market-rate housing units. Construction is slated to begin in spring 2014 with completion set for August 2015. Blach Construction is the general contractor. Carrasco & Associates is the architect.

The project’s efficiency cred includes a green roof, solar panels, rainwater collection and efficient building systems. Blach says it’s designed to meet LEED Silver criteria and is striving for the more stringent LEED Platinum.

Other developers are not being dissuaded by the shifting development winds. This week, the Minkoff Group closed on 385 Sherman Ave., a .64-acre site, according to county records. The seller, Sand Hill Property Co., dropped its own development plans there in 2009. Minkoff has submitted a preliminary proposal for a 55,566-square-foot mixed-use building there. The developer declined to comment this week.

Sand Hill Property isn’t sitting still, either. The company bought the former Facebook Inc. headquarters at 1050 Page Mill late last year, and has turned in plans to replace the old R&D buildings on the site with 284,000 square feet of new Class A office space. That is the same footprint as the existing buildings, according to city documents.

Tips for Homeowners Looking to Score During Big Game

 Homeowners and renters looking to make extra money by renting out their homes to visitors in town to watch the Broncos play the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII are urged to first contact their insurer, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

“Before renting out all or part of your home, tell your insurer about your plans to make sure you’re covered if your property is damaged or if someone is injured,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president, chief communications officer and author of the I.I.I.’s Fine Print Blog.

This is the first time the Super Bowl is being held in the New York City metro area. As a result, the market for rental properties near the game’s venue, Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey—just eight miles west of mid-town Manhattan—is red-hot. Peer-to-peer rental websites such as Airbnb are letting consumers tap into this demand, potentially earning a “postseason bonus” by making their homes available to the thousands of football fans and visiting Seattle and Denver faithful.

Some insurance companies may allow policyholders to use their property as a rental for a one-time, special occasion like the Super Bowl, as long as the insurer is informed about it ahead of time. Other insurers, while allowing this type of arrangement, may insist on other criteria being met, such as the homeowner acquiring additional insurance coverage.

Keep in mind that there are some insurers who will consider any rental of your home to be a business venture, requiring the purchase of a business policy—specifically either a hotel or a bed and breakfast policy—because a standard homeowners insurance policy excludes losses arising from the operation of a business.

“Technological advances have allowed for the growth of the sharing economy” said Salvatore. “But, if you participate, it is your responsibility to make sure you’re adequately insured. And, if you are a renter also talk to your landlord or look at your lease to make sure you are allowed to rent out your home.