Creating Urban Experiences in Walnut Creek

BH Development, Walnut Creek, Bay Area, San Francisco, CREW East Bay, Teleferic Barcelona, Chicago Deferred Exchange Company, Wine Bar and Bocce Ball
Teleferic Barcelona Dining, Photo Credit Jim Fidelius, James Brown Studios
BH Development, Walnut Creek, Bay Area, San Francisco, CREW East Bay, Teleferic Barcelona, Chicago Deferred Exchange Company, Wine Bar and Bocce Ball
Teleferic Barcelona Dining Room | Photo by Jim Fidelius, James Brown Studios

By Teresa Fluegel, Chicago Deferred Exchange Company

BH Development, Walnut Creek, Bay Area, San Francisco, CREW East Bay, Teleferic Barcelona, Chicago Deferred Exchange Company, Wine Bar and Bocce Ball
Fluegel
[dropcap]B[dropcap]H Development, a Walnut Creek–based real estate development company that specializes in retail, has developed some award-winning projects in downtown Walnut Creek and brought unique tenants to the area. “We’ve enjoyed bringing retail tenants like Tiffany & Co., Apple, Vineyard Vines, and Tommy Bahama, as well as restaurants like Va de Vi, Sasa, Slice House, Rooftop, and Teleferic Barcelona,” says BH’s president Brian Hirahara. “When I walk into those businesses and see them teeming with people, it gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

Brian is passionate about bringing new and appealing dining options to Walnut Creek and giving residents a much closer and convenient option than driving to San Francisco. For example, 14 years ago on his honeymoon, Brian became enamored of Spanish tapas. Fortuitously, he and his wife met a family who owns two award-winning restaurants in the area and were able to convince them to open their first outside Spain in Walnut Creek; in fact, the son moved here to operate the restaurant. In 2016, Teleferic Barcelona was honored as a Top New Restaurant by Diablo Magazine.

A few years ago Brian was at a rooftop restaurant in Denver. “I thought it was a unique and beautiful outdoor venue, perfect for Walnut Creek’s mostly mild weather. So the idea of Rooftop Restaurant & Bar (aptly named!) was hatched,” said Brian. It has been extremely well received for not only its rooftop venue but also its cuisine: chef/partner Justine Kelly spent 17 years at Slanted Door and is an inspiring and accomplished chef.

Brian faces a wide array of challenges that include construction costs, interest rate risk, and entitlement risk. Another challenge is that the time horizon to get a project entitled and constructed is so long that it exposes him to a lot of additional risk (the last project completed took about four years from start to finish). As it was for many businesses, the Great Recession was a scary time and a reminder that the national and even global economies produce risks that need to be considered as well.

Brian is working on some exciting new projects that continue his philosophy of creating unique and innovative urban dining:

Walnut Creek Food Hall
The project is located at 1250 Locust Street, directly across from the theater and between Union Bank and Citra Grill. BH Development’s goal is to create a gathering place for the community centered on a European courtyard. Such food courts have been the center of social and culinary activity in Europe for centuries and they’re finally arriving in the United States; local examples are the Ferry Building, Oakland’s Market Hall, and Oxbow Market in Napa. The main food hall building will offer multiple options:

  • 1st floor: several fast-casual food stalls and common dining, with a focus on unique, authentic, one-of-a-kind food concepts
  • 2nd floor: two or three sit-down restaurants with balconies and covered patio dining
  • 3rd floor: a rooftop restaurant and bar with an entertainment focus, such as live music, private events, games, movies, etc.

There will also be two small buildings over a parking lot and around the heritage oak tree behind Va de Vi. One will likely serve wine by the glass (or bottle) with bottles sales and light fare, and the other will be a beer garden/restaurant. There will be a building for a custom two-story play structure in between, to provide entertainment for kids.

Wine Bar and Bocce Ball
BH Development also owns a 100+-year-old building on Main Street and has leased the former Papyrus space to Adega Wine Bar, which will be a sister concept to Hidden Vine in San Francisco (voted among the “Top 10 Wine Bars in the US”). The real hook is that there will be an outdoor bocce ball court on the narrow alleyway between the building and the neighboring Cream Building. This will be a unique and active addition to the street that should be popular. Construction is expected to begin in early 2017.

So Brian’s goal of bringing innovative and interesting urban dining choices to Walnut Creek is being fulfilled. If you haven’t visited his restaurants, you are missing out on incredible dining experiences.

Teresa Fluegel is Senior Vice President of Chicago Deferred Exchange Company (CDEC) and the current president of CREW East Bay. She is responsible for providing consulting services to real estate and tax attorneys, accountants, investors, and commercial real estate professionals across the country, and since 2000 has focused on the West Coast. Teresa has the expertise that comes from direct involvement with tens of thousands of tax-deferred exchanges for real property. She earned the professional designation of Certified Exchange Specialist in 2004.

This article will also appear in The VIEW, the quarterly publication jointly curated by the three Bay Area chapters of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW)—CREW San Francisco, CREW East Bay, and CREW Silicon Valley. CREW is a nationwide business networking organization dedicated to the advancement of women in commercial real estate. For chapter news, events, and membership information, visit the Bay Area member organization websites at crewsf.org, creweastbay.org, and crewsv.org.

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