Bringing New Ideas to the Center of Innovation
A powerhouse development firm changes the mixed-use game in Silicon Valley
With more than 17 million square feet and more than $4 billion, the Republic Family of Companies makes a big impact across the country, specifically in Virginia, the District of Columbia and San Jose, California. The organization encompasses three individual firms: Republic Properties Corporation, Republic Urban Properties and Republic Land Development—and they all share resources with each other.
“I think what sets us apart is that we look at all asset classes,” says Michael Van Every, President and Managing Partner of Republic Urban Properties. “We’re not just a residential builder, and we’re not just an office builder. If we encounter a good economic development opportunity, we’re going to make it work. Another thing is that we are not merchant builders—we are long-term holders. We like to stay in the communities in which we do business. Mr. Richard Kramer [the Chairman of Republic Family of Companies] has established two real estate trusts in his career, and we might be moving on to a third one soon.”
The Republic Family of Companies also owes its success to a strong roster of frequent partners, such as Northern California property management firm Woodmont Real Estate.
“Woodmont Real Estate is a key to our success,” Van Every says.
Republic Urban Properties, based in San Jose, is developing several different mixed-use communities that will change the way people live in Silicon Valley.
Highs and lows in Silicon Valley
San Jose and its surrounding areas, home to Facebook, Apple and numerous other tech giants and startups, is routinely ranked as one of the fastest-growing and most expensive areas to live in the nation. This presents opportunities and challenges for Republic Urban Properties.
“There are jobs, and tech and social media have really allowed this area to power not only the region but also the nation and the world,” Van Every says. “The job production always drives economic development and real estate, so we’re very fortunate to be here now.”
However, systemic issues in the region—and specifically the Bay Area—have proved difficult for Republic Urban Properties and other real estate firms to tackle.
“Our biggest challenge is the republic of California,” Van Every says. “I don’t necessarily think most Bay Area cities value high-density development, and they blame a lot of the traffic and pollution on residential development. High land values are becoming a big constraint, but those issues are not unique. They’ve been an issue for probably 30 years now, and it’s going to continue to escalate because we are not keeping pace.”
Despite these challenges, Republic Urban Properties has three developments in Silicon Valley that are expected to surpass the competition.
Urban luxury and convenience
The Republic Family of Companies has one unifying goal when building any residential development: striving to make residents feel as if they are living in a luxury hotel. That level of excellence is on display with all three of Republic Urban Properties’ current developments.
Marquis, a 166-unit boutique development in San Jose’s Japantown, will combine modern luxury with a strong sense of community. Meanwhile, the Meridian at Midtown, with 218 units and 15,000 square feet of retail, will use a design concept still relatively unique in San Jose.
“Meridian at Midtown is one of the few wrap construction projects in the San Jose area, which means it has a five-story garage that’s wrapped with residential and retail, and it has a very good mixed-use corner,” Van Every says. “Most mixed-use projects struggle in San Jose, but we have already pre-leased Meridian’s retail at 90 percent. A lot of developers don’t value what retail can do, but we have exceeded expectations.”
To illustrate Meridian’s high-quality build and convenience, Van Every compares the project to a similar development in downtown San Jose, often considered a more desirable and expensive location compared to midtown.
“We’re in midtown, and we’re competing with downtown luxury condos,” he says. “The livability at Meridian just exceeds the standard in San Jose.”
The development with perhaps the most potential, however, is LINQ at Berryessa Station, an in-progress, mixed-use, 235-unit development. A much-anticipated extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) will soon connect San Francisco to San Jose in a more direct way than ever before, and Republic Urban Properties is the first development firm to truly leverage the opportunity.
“What’s so great about LINQ is that it’s going to be the only class A apartment within a five-mile radius that will be open when the BART extension opens in 2017,” Van Every says. “The city of San Jose has not done a good job of planning and developing the area around Berryessa Station. With the advantage of LINQ, there will be an estimated 25,000 new riders on BART the day it opens, and so those 25,000 people undoubtedly will want to make their home in and around the Berryessa area.”
Van Every looks forward to watching Republic Urban Properties continue to lead the way in new development throughout the Silicon Valley for years to come.
“This area will go through a tremendous transformation over the next few years, and the foundation for that transformation will be LINQ,” he says.