Publication: San Francisco Business Times
Date: May 31, 2013

While institutional players have dominated the recent Bay Area apartment boom, local developer Thompson Dorfman Partners LLC is beefing up with 1,200 units in its pipeline.The firm, founded by principals Bruce Dorfman and Will Thompson in 1999, has three under construction in San Francisco, San Jose, and Foster City and plans to get several more under construction by 2015.

Dorfman and Thompson take the approach of crafting the right project for the right site versus chasing market cycles or soaring rental increases.

“We have always been focused on high-quality sites in core markets. It’s just a matter of time before they are ready to go,” said Dorfman. “We’re an independent group. We don’t have a capital source dictating the type of product we develop.”

The firm specializes in urban, in-fill multi-family developments such as the 81 units it is building at Bush and Divisadero streets in San Francisco in an area that doesn’t qualify as a hotspot such as South of Market or Hayes Valley.

The firm’s $74 million Foster City project, designed by TCA Architects, is a partnership with CityView that will include 43,000 square feet of office space, 8,000 square feet of retail and a 166-unit market-rate apartment complex with approximately 20 percent of the units priced below market rate.

“Thompson Dorfman is a couple of guys with money from a much larger company, but you get to deal with them personally,” said Thom Cox, who heads TCA’s Oakland office.

Thompson Dorfman also recently took up developing the 8.55-acre former Sherwin Williams paint factory site in Emeryville with SRM Ernst Partners. That project could have as many as 500 units that could turn a dilapidated industrial site into a new neighborhood.

“We’re always looking at re-use opportunities,” Dorfman said, “and I will tell you there are a lot of them out there.”