SAN DIEGO-While the latest reports claim the local residential market may be slowing, it looks like the office sector could be willing to pick up the slack. Plans for MetroWork, the 80,000-sf, nine-story office condo project in the city’s CBD, are taking shape. The $23-million project will break ground in November and will have its first occupants in the individual units in November 2006. A development of Berkson Realty Advisors LLC, the project includes 27 office condo units.The units will range from 1,888 sf to 2,752 sf. Howard Berkson of Berkson Realty Advisors says the units will begin in the low $500,000s. He adds that monthly association fees will be “expected to approximate the expense pass-throughs that tenants pay as part of their office rent.” Berkson claims that MetroWork is the first office condo project in the area and points to similar projects in Manhattan and Silicon Valley as past success stories. “The attributes of office ownership resemble those of home ownership,” Berkson says. “Purchase of the office condo enables the business owner to gain long-term control over his workspace expenditures, realize certain tax benefits as well as an appreciating asset.”San Francisco-based architectural firm Baldauf Catton Von Eckartsberg Architects has signed on to design the project. The firm was part of the design team that steered the renovation of the historic Ferry Building in San Francisco.According to Berkson, nearly 80% of office users in the Downtown area are considered smaller tenants, who require less than 10,000 sf. Financing options for such owners include Federal SBA programs that provide up to 90% financing, he adds. MetroWork is located at the intersection of the Columbia and Little Italy neighborhoods, on the same block with the Best Western Bayside hotel. Besides the office units, the first two floors will be set aside for 12,500 sf of retail that will be available for lease, with it currently being shopped to restaurateurs.

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