The most active market for Sonoma County commercial real estate in the second quarter is industrial space, with a handful of sizable projects under construction, but there’s also been a cooling in demand from cannabis companies.
“Vacancies are low, but it’s not telling us how strong the market is,” said Shawn Johnson, managing partner of Keegan & Coppin Co. Inc./Oncor International.
The proportion of industrial space considered vacant in the first quarter was 4.2 percent of 24.8 million square feet, according to Keegan & Coppin figures. And the second quarter looks to be about the same, Johnson said.
“There is a lack of inventory but not a super amount of pent-up demand,” Johnson said.
Two big industrial projects under construction now are 250,000-square-foot Victory Station near the city of Sonoma and Billa Landing, a 380,000-square-foot, five-building wine production and storage or industrial development near Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport north of Santa Rosa.
The timeline for completion of Victory Station is later this year. It’s a project by Jose O’Neill, who has developed industrial developments in the past few years in Petaluma and Napa.
McNeill has been working to get the Victory Station project built since he and financial backer Washington Capital Management purchased the property in April 2016. A grading permit was secured from the county of Sonoma in November; and a building permit, in the first half of March.
At Billa Landing, the first two buildings, each with 48,100 square feet, are set to be completed by early September, according to Dave Peterson, a Keegan & Coppin partner who is marketing the project with Danny Jones, also a partner. One has the steel framing up and is getting roofing, while the other is getting its concrete slab poured.
Billa Enterprises in 2016 purchased the 22 acres for the Billa Landing project along Copperhill Parkway between Westwind and North Laughlin boulevards from Brondi Development, which has been rolling out buildings in Westwind Business Park for the past two decades. At the helm of Billa is Ajaib Bhadare, a board member of Santa Rosa’s First Community Bank and a founder of Cerent Corp., a telecommunications equipment company that made a big splash for a quick-lived Petaluma-centered cluster called Telecom Valley.
A third building with 70,000 square feet passed design review with the county of Sonoma on Wednesday. Next comes construction drawings, and targeted completion is late summer 2019. Another 70,000-square-foot building is set to start next year, with a 144,000 square footer behind that. The goal is to have one or two buildings under construction at any given time, Peterson said.
“We’re pretty confident in the market,” he said. “There has been some interest from wineries and traditional warehouse users and some cannabis users, but we’re working with winery and industrial users before we get into that.”
A rush to secure industrial real estate around Santa Rosa in the runup to California legalization last year has inflated pricing for area warehouses by up to three times to lease and buy, according to Peterson. For example, a Santa Rosa Avenue property recently sold for $340 per square foot, he said. Typical warehouses in the North Bay go for $140-$200 a square foot, depending on size.
While calls to Keegan & Coppin seeking commercial space continue to be dominated by cannabis-related users, the “fever pitch” of six to 12 months ago has cooled down, Johnson said.
North Bay commercial real estate market update