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1714 Stockton Street, 3rd Floor, Suite 344
San Francisco, CA 94133
3065 Richmond Parkway, Suite 101   
Richmond, CA 94806   
PH. (510) 223-5167   
FAX (510) 223-0112   
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Bay Area Land Surveying, Inc.
Commercial Condominiums in the San Francisco Bay Area

Commercial condominium conversions are a great way to pull equity out of a property that is no longer producing the income that you need. As a property owner, you can decide to sell all of the units to obtain profits of between 10% and 50% more than if you sold the property as a single unit.

Different cities and counties in the Bay Area have differing rules for converting property to condominiums. As a general rule, commercial properties are viewed with more favor than residential properties by the various Bay Area governments. California is a state with some of the strictest residential rental laws in the nation and most communities extend these restrictions to make it difficult for a property owner to convert existing residential rental units to condominiums. There are occasions for exceptions to these restrictions when a property has remained vacant for an extended period and is in a state of disrepair.

Properties that are in a commercial or industrial use zone and do not have a residential component meet much less resistance from the governing agencies. In some cases conversions are encouraged because the greater number of individual units increases the tax revenue to the governing agency.

To determine if your property has the potential to be converted to condominiums, you must first analyze the financial implications. If it is not going to be a profitable move, then there is no reason to proceed. If you determine that it makes financial sense, the second step is to contact the governing agencies to determine if there are any potential roadblocks. If you are in a business park and the association documents prohibit further subdivision, then you know that you will have potential obstacles. Bay Area Land Surveying, Inc. has a number of attorneys and facilitators that we work with who can help you to determine the feasibility of your project.

After you determine the feasibility of the conversion you are ready to start the process. The initial step is the Tentative Map and the Subdivision Application. Some jurisdictions require that you produce the Condominium Plan at this initial phase. Bay Area Land Surveying, Inc. knows the requirements of the different jurisdictions and will help you to successfully navigate the subdivision process.

The Tentative Map is a complete Boundary and Topographic Survey of the site, showing all of the physical features and all of the legal encumbrances (easements and right-of- ways). The agencies use this map to determine if there are any problems with the site. They look at the setbacks, parking and other various aspects of the site to make sure it complies with their standards. Fortunately, in most jurisdictions, the requirements are the same for commercial and industrial condominiums as they are for leased or other private spaces, so most projects don’t require site improvements.

Some jurisdictions require a set of building plans that show the architectural and utility layout of the building(s) and could require that you separate the utilities of the units so they are separately metered. If you don’t have a set of building plans showing the current layout of your project, you may have to hire an architect to show this aspect of the project. Some agencies look at the buildings for code violations and will make you bring the buildings up to current codes if they are deficient.

When the agency reviewing your project makes their determination and approves your project, they will issue a “Conditions of Approval” letter. This letter will outline in detail all of the things that you need to do to complete the subdivision process. This is when you contact us and we prepare the Final Map and Condominium Plans. You should also contact an attorney to begin the preparation of the association documents and a financial consultant to prepare your budget. Your surveyor will provide your attorney with a copy of the Condominium Plans and they will be added as an attachment to the association documents. During the period the agency is reviewing the Final Map, you can usually do all the upgrades to the site and building to meet their conditions.

When all of the conditions are met and the agency approves the Final Map, you are ready to have us prepare the Mylar version of the Final Map and sign it. You can then meet at our office and sign the map with our notary, or sign somewhere else in front of a notary public. Some projects require the lender, or the holder of the deed of trust on the property to also sign the map at this time. The map is then delivered to the governing agency for their signatures then routed to the County for the Tax Assessor’s signature and the County Recorder’s signature. The map is then filed in the County records. Your subdivision is finally completed when you file the association documents and the condominium plans.

It is very important to have a good team working for you to complete your subdivision. You want professionals who know the agencies that are going to approve your project and it helps to have an elite team of people who are used to working with each other. Bay Area Land Surveying, Inc. has done Condominium Subdivisions in almost every community in the Bay Area. We have a great working relationship with the planners and engineers at the different agencies who will be reviewing and approving your subdivision as well as the attorneys, financial consultants and title officers who will be working on your behalf to complete your project.