Thompson | Dorfman Partners, LLC provides development advisory services to public companies and private institutions with a focus on enhancing the value of under-utilized real estate assets. Typically, these opportunities involve reuse and redevelopment of the assets to provide multi-family housing, often in mixed-use environments. The scope of the engagement is structured to address the specific needs of the client and to respond to physical, political and market issues related to a site in order to optimize residual property value. Although Thompson | Dorfman’s development advisory services rely on the same core competencies provided to its equity joint ventures, the focus of the company’s assignments is generally more limited, and can be expanded as directed by the client.
Major Institutional Investor – 95 Hawthorne: The principals of Thompson | Dorfman, while at Trammell Crow Residential, were retained to engage a design team, develop a conceptual plan and process entitlements for a high-rise apartment building on a site the investor owns in the Transbay Terminal District of San Francisco. Once an initial project feasibility study was completed, five well-respected architects were interviewed before Skidmore, Ownings and Merrill was selected to design this project, a luxury 42-story tower containing nearly 400 units. Navigating the byzantine approval process in San Francisco, Thompson | Dorfman managed the on-going interaction with City staff and the design process. In addition, the team was responsible for outreach efforts to City officials as well as various vocal community groups. Ultimately, by instituting density bonus legislation, the project was successfully approved in November 2019.
WTI, Inc. – RiverView Master Plan Community: Thompson | Dorfman was retained by the property owner, an offshore investment firm, to conceive and entitle a master plan for the former 32.6-acre Wyse Technology campus in North San Jose, California. Due to a limited number of housing permits available for new construction, the project had to be fast-tracked and was subject to a “beauty contest.” Located at the River Oaks Station on the North First Street light rail line and backing up to the Guadalupe River open space area, the site lent itself to a high-density transit-oriented urban plan, which was a radical departure from the suburban tract developments more common to the area. Working with ROMA Design Group, an internationally recognized design firm, Thompson | Dorfman directed the creation of an urban street grid that offered walkable city blocks, 50,000 square feet of mixed-use retail space, 1,579 multi-family units in six high-density buildings as well as a five-acre public park. In order to create a more organic feel so that the master-plan felt as if it were developed over time, the project architecture incorporated a variety of contemporary buildings ranging in scale from four-story “wrap” and six-story podiums to an 18-story high-rise, with each block highlighted by architecture from a prominent design firm. The plan was well-received by the City and obtained expedited approvals. Thompson | Dorfman was subsequently retained as the master developer for the project to complete the infrastructure as well as assist in selling various blocks.
NatureBridge – The National Environmental Science Center: Each year over 15,000 students and teachers come to experience and learn at Yosemite National Park through the outdoor science programs offered by NatureBridge. Thompson | Dorfman advised the design and construction of the initial phase of a 17-building residential education center, which includes a dining hall, cabins, bathhouses, classrooms, a fire station and support facilities. The new buildings combine the latest green design and energy concepts with the site’s inherent attributes to provide an interactive model of sustainability in which program participants can engage firsthand. Projected to be net-zero energy and to save 60% over standard water use, the center includes the following strategies and systems: passive house design, gray water collection, photovoltaics, a ground source heat pump system, locally sourced materials and biogas harvesting. The project is built to LEED Platinum standards.
Sherwin-Williams Corporation – West Coast paint manufacturing facility: In a venture with SRM Associates, a commercial developer, Thompson | Dorfman was retained to create and process a development program and implement an entitlement strategy for the reuse of an 85-year old paint and coatings manufacturing facility located in a revitalized industrial area of Emeryville, California. Given the long lead time required to relocate the plant, environmentally remediate the site, and demolish much of the existing facility, the development team pursued a “flexible” entitlement that provided Sherwin-Williams the option to construct a mixed-use project ranging from 75,000 square feet of commercial space and up to 575 residential units, to nearly 300,000 square feet of commercial space and 150 residential units to meet unknown future market demand. The 8.6-acre development also included more than two acres of programmed open space. Thompson | Dorfman proceeded to option this site and then sold the development rights for 100,000 square feet of commercial space and 500 residential units to a NYSE-listed homebuilder.
Boeing Company – McDonnell-Douglas manufacturing facility: Boeing retained Thompson | Dorfman to develop an entitlement and marketing strategy for the multi-family component of its 260-acre Douglas Park redevelopment in Long Beach, California. The project involved performing a market analysis, providing recommendations on program and design, and directing the design team to prepare a Specific Plan for 1,200 units of townhomes, condominiums and apartments on 50-acres. The program was based on a thorough analysis of projected absorption, development costs, target sales prices and operating expenses prepared by Thompson | Dorfman.
Madison Marquette – Bay Street retail center: Madison Marquette retained Thompson | Dorfman to direct the design, permitting and project management for two multi-family projects to be built over a portion of a 400,000-square-foot retail center in Emeryville, California. The residential program consisted of 95 for-sale townhomes, 284 apartment units and associated parking, all designed in the air-rights parcel above retail space. This project was particularly challenging given that the retail infrastructure, foundation and structural systems, were largely constructed before the residential projects were designed. This required that creative design solutions be implemented to maximize the value of the air-rights. Also unique to the project were separate ownership structures for the residential and retail components requiring Thompson | Dorfman to direct the negotiation of a reciprocal easement agreement to address the construction and operational issues.
Oaktree Capital Management – Loch Lomond Marina Village: Thompson | Dorfman was retained to direct the design and entitlement of the Loch Lomond Marina Village in an exclusive area of Marin County, California. The specific plan involved developing 84-units of attached and detached housing, rebuilding 25,000 square feet of commercial space which included retail, marina services and professional office space, and upgrading a 520-slip marina and adjacent public recreation amenities, while protecting and enhancing five acres of wildlife conservation area. Due to the scope of the development, numerous federal and state agencies, as well as a dozen neighboring homeowner associations, were involved with the approval process in addition to the City of San Rafael (where the site was located). Thompson | Dorfman engaged the City, various groups with vested interests, and community members throughout the process by formulating and implementing a comprehensive public outreach plan.
These are just a sample of the recent development advisory assignments undertaken by Thompson | Dorfman. The company has also provided Development Advisory Services to a number of other clients, including the San Jose Water Company and the San Jose Redevelopment Agency.