Here are some other significant stories from 2013:
Basin Street returns to Marin
MILL VALLEY — Basin Street Properties, which owns dozens of office, industrial and retail buildings in Sonoma County, returned to the Marin County office market after an eight-year absence with the purchase of the 98,652-square-foot Shoreline Office Center along Richardson Bay.
Basin Street on Oct. 24 bought it from an affiliate of Equity Office Properties for $22.25 million, or $225 a square foot.
“With the office market in Marin County experiencing a substantial resurgence in recent years, especially in light of skyrocketing San Francisco rates coupled with falling vacancy rates, Shoreline is the perfect property for us to make our re-entrance here after selling our Novato properties in 2005,” said Matt White, president and chief executive officer of Reno-based Basin Street Properties. “Shoreline’s waterfront location, proximity to Marin County’s beautiful landscape, and short drive to San Francisco is ideal for many businesses that value a strategic and accessible location for employees, like Glassdoor.”
Glassdoor, a 6-year-old creator of a website that provides jobseekers with an internal look at company culture, in late June signed a lease for 30,500 square feet at Shoreline. The company plans to relocate from Sausalito in early 2014 and intends to have around 200 employees at that time.
Cyan raises $91 million in IPO
PETALUMA — Cyan Networks (NYSE: CYNI) raised $91 million in a public offering in May and plans to expand next door.
Founded in 2006 by telecom valley veterans, Cyan has grown from 30 employees to 103 in 2011 to over 300 today. The company reported revenues of $96 million in 2012.
Cyan is set to occupy 38,000 more square feet of office space in a 56,000-square-foot building under construction. Occupancy is set for late 2014.
Cyan sells its software-defined networking systems — designed to better manage the growing amounts of data generated by mobile devices, social media and cloud-based computing — to Internet service providers, governments, companies and other enterprises.
Glassdoor gets $50 million in more funding
SAUSALITO — Glassdoor, the user-generated site for employees to rate companies and employers to find employees, closed $50 million in venture funding early in December, bringing total capital investment in the 6-year-old company to nearly $93 million.
According to Glassdoor CEO and co-founder Robert Hohman, the company plans to use the capital to expand its team, accelerate international expansion and further invest in products for job-seekers and employers. Glassdoor plans to expand its workforce, now at 200, by 100 employees during the coming year.
The company plans to relocate to 30,000 square feet of office space in San Rafael early next year.
Wine producer Truett-Hurst goes public
HEALDSBURG — Truett-Hurst, Inc. (Nasdaq CM: THST) had net proceeds of $14.1 million from an initial public offering of stock in June.
Those proceeds, net of fees and expenses related to the IPO, were being used to purchase ownership in Healdsburg-based wine producer H.D.D., LLC, started by wine industry veterans Phil Hurst, Paul Dolan, Heath Dolan, Bill Hambrecht, Dan Carroll and Virginia Lambrix. The wine company, in turn, will use that money to pay down its credit facility, for working capital, capital spending and hiring.
Brands include Truett Hurst, VML, Bradford Mountain, Evocative Wraps, Curious Beasts, The Wine With No Name and The Supper Club.
Truett-Hurst had looked to raise $21.6 million in the IPO of 2.7 million shares, which would be more than $8 a share, before IPO costs.
The stock started trading June 19 at $5.94 a share. The closing price per share Tuesday was $5.85, up 5 cents. The stock price rebounded — reaching $4.37 on Tuesday — after falling to $3.39 in early December.
Downtown Napa shopping center gets mixed-use makeover
NAPA — Downtown Napa has been undergoing a retail renaissance over the past several years, and now the downtown shopping center is undergoing a mixed-use makeover that will bring a luxury hotel and 30,000 more square feet of shop space.
Set to fully open in fall 2015, the project, now called Napa Center, is set to create a shopping and lodging district with 153,000 square feet of space for 40 stores and restaurants plus a planned Archer Napa four-star luxury hotel.
Zapolski, which has offices in Durham, N.C., and Napa, in November announced a joint venture with Fort Worth, Texas-based Trademark to buy and rehabilitate the 20,000-square-foot Gordon Building on First Street. Earlier this year, Zapolski inked a deal with LodgeWorks Partners, LP, to develop and run the hotel.
Zapolski Real Estate, LLC, in early December announced another joint venture with Trademark Property Co. for significant rework of downtown Napa commercial space, this time to help fund the $25 million renovation and redevelopment project underway at the former Napa Town Center and surrounding buildings.
The estimated project cost is $140 million — $70 million for the retail and as much for the hotel.
Napa Town Center was originally built in 1989 and purchased last year. The renovation project also includes the 9,300-square-foot Dunne Building, purchased in 2011, and the newly acquired Gordon Building.
Reflecting national investor interest in biotech and pharmaceutical companies and rare disease drug development, two North Bay start-ups have filed in initial public offerings while more established companies like BioMarin have continued to see strong investment and growth.
Novato-based Ultragenyx in November filed for an initials public offering of $86.25 million. Ultragenyx, a spin-off from BioMarin, will trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol RARE. The company focuses on a number of experimental treatments across a wide-range of rare diseases, among them its drug UX-001, which is aimed at hereditary body myopathy and UX-023, which treats hypophosphatemia, a bone disease that can lead to bowed legs and weakened muscles.
In four years, Ultragenyx has developed a portfolio of six potential rare-disease drugs.
Ruthigen, a wholly owned subsidiary of Petaluma-based Oculus, itself filed an IPO seeking $26 million. Ruthigen is pinning its hopes on the drug RUT58-60.
The drug has shown promise in the way it can treat infections specifically related to organ exposure after surgery, according to the company.
Unemployment picture improves
The North Bay employment picture improved significantly over 2013, reaching some of the lowest unemployment rates in recent memory. Sonoma County had a jobless rate of 6 percent in November, tying with Napa and San Louis Obispo counties for the fifth-lowest rate in the state, according to the Employment Development Department. Net job growth for the county over 12 months was 2 percent, or 3,600 positions, increasing the total to 183,800 jobs last month. Leading job-creation industries were business and professional services with 1,100 more over 12 months; government, 1,000; leisure and hospitality, 700; retail-dominated trade, transportation and utilities, 500; and health care-related, 400.
Solano County had a jobless rate of 7.6 percent, with net annual industry job growth of 3.6 percent, or 4,400 positions, bringing the estimated total to 127,300 jobs in November. Leading industries for that growth were retail, with a net gain of 800, or 4.5 percent; health care, also 800, 5.0 percent; leisure and hospitality, 900, 6.7 percent; financial and business services, each with 400, 8.0 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively; and construction, 200, 2.4 percent. No major industries had a net loss of jobs over 12 months, although government, manufacturing and farming had no growth in Solano.
Marin County held its title of having the state’s lowest jobless rate, at 4.6 percent last month. That’s down slightly from a revised 4.7 percent in October and more than a percentage point improved from 5.7 percent the previous November.
The unemployment rate for Napa County was 6 percent in November, up from a revised 5.4 percent in October but well below the year-ago estimate of 7.3 percent. Over 12 months, the number of industry jobs increased by 1.6 percent, or 1,100 positions, to 69,500.
Hospitality and tourism added 800 jobs, or 7.2 percent growth; manufacturing, which includes wine production, added 400, or 4.5 percent; and government, retail as well as construction, each added 200
SMART gets traction
PETALUMA — Ongoing work to construct a passenger rail system took a number of steps forward in 2013, offering hope that the system will launch with a significantly longer span than the core segment planned for initial operation in 2016.
The award of $16.7 million in Bay Area regional transit funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission allowed the system to authorize construction of a station near the Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport. At a total cost of $21.8 million, the station extends the northern terminus planned for Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit’s initial operating segment by four miles.
The system also received $2 million from the federal “Small Starts” program to perform early engineering work for a stretch from downtown San Rafael to Larkspur. The Transportation Authority of Marin endorsed a $11.4 million allocation from the MTC for that project as well, which is anticipated to cost $40 million.
A diminished funding outlook forced SMART to truncate the launch of its 70-mile system to a 38.5-mile stretch between Santa Rosa and San Rafael. Yet recent developments have raised optimism that the long-term plans to span from the Larkspur Ferry Terminal in Marin County to Cloverdale in Sonoma County are closer on the horizon.
Home values jump; rents rise and vacancies shrink
While North Bay counties, particularly Sonoma and Marin, continue to face a shortage of new housing stock, a diminishing inventory of deeply discounted, distressed properties helped a more typical housing market to begin churning in 2013.
With housing prices also on the rise, the number of homes sold for under $500,000 in the month of November in the Bay Area dropped by 32.5 percent year-over-year, according to the most recent data from San Diego-based DataQuick. The median price for a home in the Bay Area was $550,000, up 25.6 percent from November 2012.
The shortage of lower-priced inventory and uptick in what have been rock-bottom mortgage rates have driven more individuals to rental properties, which has also driven up average rental rates across the North Bay and the Bay Area.
Yet homebuilders are paying attention, seeing that demand and an improving economy as reason to consider new construction. Brookfield Homes, developer for the planned 1,645-unit University District near Sonoma State University, put new momentum into their long-planned project and asked the Rohnert Park City Council to authorize a revamped layout this year. And City Ventures, a Southern California home developer, completed the purchase 95 acres for home development in Sonoma County towards the end of the year.
Other trends include a slowdown in the “flipping” of deeply discounted homes, with investors likely to purchase higher-end properties and embark of more ambitious home improvements in an effort to add value before resale.
Hennessy tops $4 billion
Hennessy Advisors, the Novato-based mutual fund and asset management firm, surpassed $4 billion in assets under management in September of 2013. The firm had seen its assets grow by 30 percent since the end of 2012, following a acquisition in October of 2011 that grew the firm’s assets under management three-fold, to over $3 billion. Hennessy Advisors today serves over 12,000 financial advisers and 215,000 shareholders.
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