Madison Capital and Taconic Capital Advisors LP have provided $40 million in financing for the acquisition of 180 Howard St. in San Francisco’s South Financial District.
The State Bar of California announced separately that it had sold the 13-story, 211,000-square-foot, Class A building, its San Francisco headquarters for the past 25 years, to Ridge Capital Investors for $54 million. The State Bar had purchased the property in 1996 for $22.5 million, according to CommercialEdge data.
The State Bar of California, a regulatory agency overseeing California attorney licensing and discipline, is the only independent state court in the U.S. dedicated solely to overseeing attorney discipline.
The agency plans to stay in its space for about a year, after which it will consolidate its operations into about half (68,000 rentable square feet) of its current footprint.
180 Howard St. is in the Spear Street Corridor and close to the Transbay Termination, Ferry Building and Embarcadero waterfront.
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In a prepared statement, Jonathan Nachmani, managing director at Madison Capital, and Andrew Lam, director in Taconic Capital Advisors’ Commercial Real Estate Group, praised the building’s transit-oriented location, strong cash flow and sound business plan, despite San Francisco’s current economic challenges.
In the run-up to this transaction, a California state audit reportedly had determined that the State Bar needed an increase in attorney licensing fees to meet its public responsibilities. However, this year’s licensing fee bill did not contain a fee increase, although it did allow the State Bar to use proceeds from the sale of 180 Howard to address the agency’s operational needs while the state legislature considers a fee increase for 2025.
Facing that issue in addition to experiencing the ubiquitous situation of fewer employees in the office day to day, the State Bar in 2021 began efforts to sell the building, assisted by Cushman & Wakefield.
Rough waters by the bay
The San Francisco office market has now gone through eight straight quarters of negative net absorption, totaling about 5.1 million square feet of negative absorption so far this year, according to a third-quarter report from Kidder Mathews. Total office vacancy has hit 28.8 percent, with sublease supply steadily exceeding demand.
Kidder Mathews notes a “flight to quality,” however: “Premier Class A offices with desirable amenities and views remain highly competitive and have asking rates well over $80 per square foot full service, with the very best suites commanding rents north of $100 per square foot full service.”
As if to illustrate the City by the Bay’s office woes, earlier this month Rubicon Point Partners acquired The Townsend Building, a 137,000-square-foot asset, for $72 million, a hefty discount from the $132.6 million that the seller, CBRE Investment Management, had paid just three years ago.