News & Research Archive

Pulse Of The Market (Pulse 93 - Mission Bay: Great Opportunity - Tricky Market)

Jul 11, 2011

With the March 2000 opening of AT&T Park serving as a catalyst, the neighborhoods South Beach, Yerba Buena, SOMA and Mission Bay (north of Mission Creek) started taking off. Notwithstanding the economic downturn, these neighborhoods have blossomed commercially and residentially. Now there is significant action south of the Channel.

What are We Talking About?

Mission Bay Major Properties

Mission Bay was an unattractive rail yard owned by the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. The Board of Supervisors made this area a redevelopment project in 1998, Mayor Willie Brown got UCSF involved, the Giants opened AT&T Park in 2000, and Vancouver-based Bosa Development snapped up most of the land zoned for market-rate residential, then delivered the 99-unit Radiance. made a deal for 14 acres toward the end of 2010. In other words, there has been a lot of action.

What Makes it Special

Mission Bay is not a typical San Francisco neighborhood. First of all it is brand new. It was just a lot of dirt until recently, and it is not yet “finished”. The rest of the City is pretty much “done.” Today Mission Bay combines a world-class inter-play of research, science, and medical facilities with a residential community all of which is set apart from downtown congestion. It is literally next to the Bay and probably enjoys the best weather in San Francisco.


Bosa Development is led by visionary Nat Bosa and based in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the company has built some 60 condominium towers over the last 30 years. Bosa brought the Radiance to market in 2008, just as the financial disaster was gathering steam. Sell out took place in 2009.

The Completed Radiance

Everyone buys somewhere for personal reasons: some Radiance owners - 

  • A 30-something NASA nano-scientist who likes the 280 freeway nearby so she can get to Santa Clara quickly.
  • A retired couple who believe Mission Bay will be as important to life science’s future as Silicon Valley has been to the electronics industry
  • A GenX couple who likes being close to dining and entertainment without the density and hassle of actually being in the heart of downtown.
  • A retired marketing exec who appreciates the parks and open space and loves the fabulous views of the Bay during the day and cityscape at night.


What Means to Mission Bay has purchased 14 acres in the heart of Mission Bay with the intention of building a two million square foot campus for some 8,000+ employees.

Like many companies, wanted a site where employees could be together rather than spread among many buildings. In choosing a new HQ location, employees were asked whether they wished to be in a high-rise downtown (close to shopping, dining, etc.) or in Mission Bay. They chose Mission Bay. “There is nothing quite so inspiring to see the possibilities as an empty lot overlooking one of the most historic, wonderful bays in the universe,” said Bruce Francis,’s vice president of corporate strategy.

Renderings of the campus’s decision to locate its campus in Mission Bay validates Bosa’s earlier decision to make a major residential statement there. It will accelerate the critical mass needed to lure retail establishments to the area, benefiting everyone. also adds diversity to the tenant mix, which is currently made up mostly of life science folks associated with UCSF research and hospital, biotech, and related medical companies.

Madrone Condominiums

While other developers were licking their financial wounds, Bosa started building the new 329-unit Madrone next to the existing Radiance. This was in early 2010, even before the announcement; a gutsy move.

Artist's rendering of completed Madrone

Great Opportunity – Tricky Market

If there is one thing that the financial crisis has taught us, it is that you should not make a residential purchase without knowing what you are doing. Aside from location issues, we now know that timing is critical, not to mention financing. There are a host of San Francisco folks who bought a condominium in a building where they paid $900+ per sq. ft. and their neighbor, with virtually the exact same unit, paid $750 or less per sq. ft. It reminds me of airline seat pricing.

With 329 units at the Madrone, there are many choices and an overall great opportunity. Ten years from now Mission Bay will be “done” and will be a sought after neighborhood, just like SOMA is now sought after by tech companies and residents. However, it is a tricky market, and a buyer needs to be careful about which unit at what price represents a good deal, after considering the unit’s configuration, available light/views, etc.

One would be wise to employ experts, and to this end I have joined with Aleana Lamont who spent three years onsite at Bosa’s Radiance sales office. She knows Mission Bay and the ins and outs of Bosa’s process. Don’t be bashful in calling upon us.

For more information on Mission Bay and Madrone, go to

You can also download valuable information at Mission Bay booklet.

Written by: Malcolm E.A. Kaufman


Starboard TCN is posting this article on its website and blog with Malcolm E.A. Kaufman's approval.

Malcolm E.A. Kaufman is Founder of PulseFactors™ LLC. He refers you to his website,, where you can see recent issues of Pulse of the Market© and learn more about him. He invites your comments, suggestions, and questions.

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