By Meghan Hall
In San Francisco, companies large and small are investing in their own spaces, buying property if their finances allow in an effort to maintain their home in the city. This scenario was no different for Walker Warner, a residential architecture firm, who acquired the E.M. O’Donnell Copper Works building in the South Financial District. According to public documents and The Registry’s previous reporting, the property’s previous owner was a private individual who inherited the former copper foundry in 1991.
According to sources familiar with the transaction detail, the property sold for $9 million, or roughly $1,362 per square foot. The buyers are an entity associated with Brooks Walker and Greg Warner, the two founders of Walker Warner. The building has been 100 percent leased to the firm since 2004; The Registry reported last year that Walker Warner was likely to remain past its lease expiration in December of 2022. With this latest purchase, it can now do so.
Since Walker Warner’s founding in 1989, the firm has completed more than 200 projects in California, Hawaii, Idaho and Montana.
The building was placed up for sale in August of 2019 after the passing of the former property owner. Located at 353 Folsom Street, the two-story, 6,607 square foot building was originally constructed in 1921 and was built as a concrete and steel structure. Today, it features a high ceiling, natural wood finishes and some of the historic features from its foundry days.
CBRE reported in the fourth quarter of 2019 that San Francisco’s tight market continues to squeeze tenants large and small out of the market as rental rates continue to skyrocket. Lease transaction volume at the end of the year totaled more than 1.1 million square feet, and vacancy in the South Financial District where the Copper Works building is located sits at 2.6 percent. Lease rates increased to $88.19 at the end of the year, marking the 42nd consecutive quarter of rent growth since the fourth quarter of 2009, when rents sat at $30.70 per square foot.
CBRE, the exclusive advisor on the sale, did not return The Registry’s request for comment.