Best of the Bay 2014

The NAIOP San Francisco Bay Area Chapter hosted its 3rd annual Best of the Bay Awards on Thursday, February 19, 2015.  Our members rocked the Four Season’s ballroom with a lively crowd of over 300 prominent commercial real estate professionals active across all property types and in each submarket of the Bay Area.  Presiding over the event for the second time was Bay Area real estate legend and ever-entertaining master of ceremonies, Luis Belmonte, who came equipped with his equally legendary wit and his infamous NAIOP gong.

Unique among real estate awards competitions, the Best of the Bay features interactive voting with attendees using wireless keypads to select winners in real time.  To add an element of levity, as award categories are introduced, nominees give a quick “pitch” to make their case.  If they exceed the time limit (or displease Luis or the crowd in any way) they are gonged!  Of course, Luis provided context for the developing leaders in the crowd harkening back to the late 70’s and the TV comedy series The Gong Show.

This year’s Best of the Bay event lived up to its well-established reputation as a must attend event with a great crowd and high entertainment factor.  Nominees delivered one compelling real estate story after another in the context of fun, creative pitches providing plenty of laughs and prompting Luis, to give the NAIOP gong quite a workout.

Development of the Year went to SKS and Mitsui Fudosan America’s 270 Brannan Street, a new Class A office building in the center of San Francisco’s SOMA district. Dan Kingsley gave an impassioned pitch for the stunning modern structure that blends seamlessly with the classic architecture of the surrounding South End Historic District. He introduced celebrated San Francisco architect Peter Pfau, Principal of Pfau Long Architects who designed the innovative seven-story, 202,000 square foot development that incorporates the latest in environmentally sustainable design and is targeted for LEED Platinum status.  Scheduled for completion in December of this year, the project is fully leased to top tier tech tenant Splunk.

A crowd favorite category was Developing Leader of the Year.  It featured many prominent industry veterans pitching for their accomplished young protégés and loud cheering sections for each nominee.  The coveted award went to Kathryn Collins, Project Director at Harvest Properties and graduate of the Chapter’s inaugural Young Professionals Group (YPG) program.  Harvest Founder and Managing Partner John Winther gave a heartfelt pitch for Kathryn who has been a key member of his team since 2008. He highlighted her notable accomplishments including the acquisition, complete repositioning and sale of both 115 Sansome Street and 731 Market Street as well as her work on an off-market acquisition of 55 Hawthorne including the execution of a full-building lease to Yelp within 60 days of closing. John also touted Kathryn’s long history as an active participant in NAIOP and her tireless work on behalf of the organization.

Of course, the Best Lease Transaction in San Francisco was a hot category this year with a varietal who’s who of tech giants and mega-deals.  Salesforce’s 714,000 square foot lease, the largest in San Francisco history, took home the prize.  Dan Harvey of Cushman & Wakefield who represented Salesforce and John Cecconi of CBRE who represented Boston Properties and Hines gave personal accounts of the mammoth deal.  They expressed that Salesforce Tower, which will be the tallest office building on the West Coast and the first piece of the historic Transbay Development to break ground, will forever transform the City’s skyline and mark the new center of San Francisco’s Financial District.  They also pointed out that it is the crowning development partnership between two industry legends: Mort Zuckerman of Boston Properties and Gerald Hines of Hines.

Another notable winner was 1019 Market Street for Best Investment Deal in San Francisco. Acquired by Deutsche Bank Wealth Management for $48.2 million ($639/sf), the transaction, brokered by HFF, exemplifies what is happening in the sizzling mid-Market corridor.  Jay Atkinson and Bob Basso of Cannae Partners tag teamed the pitch which chronicled how the classic 1908 architectural gem had sat neglected for 40 years before Cannae, who bought it in 2012 with Westport Capital Partners, performed a masterful repositioning and leased 97% of it to Zendesk.  They proclaimed that the property had been transitioned from an abandoned garment warehouse to a “core quality European pensioners’ asset” in one cycle. Luis, wasted no time quipping back that while he agreed it was a great deal he thought calling a building at 6th and Market a core asset was a bit of a stretch, which caused a wave of laughter throughout the room.

NAIOP San Francisco Bay Area is excited about the market activity that will occur in 2015 and will be celebrated at the next Best of the Bay event.

Click here to see all photos from the event.