Well no matter how you slice it tom says that this is a leading indicator of real estate coming back to san jose. So no matter how the news spins the economy this week, real estate it would seem is slowly but surely on its way back!!! Hang in there san jose as we will put the home price slump behind us at some point for sure.
For the past three years, the steel frame of an uncompleted five-story office tower has loomed over a corner lot in Santa Clara while the developer waited for the economy to revive.
Last week, in one more sign that Silicon Valley's economy is emerging from the downturn, construction crews were at work again on the building.
Valley developers are restarting dormant projects and some long-idled construction workers are back on the job. Santa Clara County added 1,800 construction jobs in June, double the 20-year average.
Thousands of new apartment units in more than half a dozen complexes are in various stages of development in San Jose. South Bay office developers are planning new campuses and finishing projects they put on hold after the 2008 crash.
The Sobrato Organization, which mothballed the Santa Clara office building in 2008, is even planning a second 5-story office building on the site.
"We feel strongly about the tech sector and the Bay Area," said Mike Field, Sobrato's director for commercial real estate. High end office space is in short supply and there's lots of demand for it from big tech companies, he said
Still unknown is whether the national economic turmoil may slow things down again. "I'm optimistic but very cautious," said Neil Struthers, chief executive officer of the Santa Clara and San Benito Counties Building & Construction Trades Council.
construction workers, it's nothing close to a return to the employment numbers before the 2008 crash, but it's probably a signal of more hiring to come.
Dan Borba, a 30-year-old construction specialist from Fremont, is working again after three years he says were the worst of his life, scrabbling up temporary jobs and working for half or less what he was paid before the crash. He started on a full-time union job a week ago.
Borba said that every day he feels "lucky to wake up and go to work as long as there's work to be had. I do believe our industry has seen the last of it," he said.
Among the work in progress or planned: Dostart Development Co. is in discussions with tenants about a proposed campus in Mountain View; Irvine Apartment Communities is building a massive apartment complex in north San Jose, and construction will start this fall on another Moffett Towers building.
Rafael Santiago, 45, of Santa Clara, was laid off a year ago. Last week, for the first time since then, he found fulltime work at an apartment construction site in North San Jose.
"Things are getting better," he said. But his former co-workers mostly gave up during the downturn and moved out of state, he said.
For Lou Hollister, 32-year-old former investment analyst for Charles Schwab, the building renaissance has allowed him to switch careers.
Last week, he began work as an apprentice electrician on the re-launch of the Santa Clara office building.
In finance, "You sit in front of a desk all day," he said, as he stowed gear in a building site locker at quitting time. Being an electrician "is the best of both worlds -- there's a lot of calculation, but it's physical too, and you're out of doors."
The construction of several data centers in the South Bay has helped keep electrical workers busy during the downturn, said Sal Ventura, assistant business manager for the San Jose local of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 332.
"We're seeing a lot of work on the books with our employers and we're seeing some projects that will have a significant impact for construction workers in near future," Ventura said. "We still have 15 percent of our people out of work, but it's better than the 25 to 30 percent we had."
Employment in other trades -- operating engineers, cement masons and laborers ---is also rising, according to union spokesmen. But hiring varies as projects go through different stages.
Operating engineers are the first on the building site, with heavy equipment. They are doing better in San Francisco and Oakland, where there are large public works projects under way, than San Jose at the moment, according to Mark Kyle, spokesman for Operating Engineers Local 3 in Alameda, which covers Northern California, Nevada, Hawaii and Utah. But upcoming projects for the South Bay, including the beginning of BART construction, will increase hiring here, he said.
"Two years ago we had 5,000 folks on the out of work list. It's down now to about 1,700," he said.
At one time, 40 percent of Labors Local 270 in San Jose were idle, said business manager Jim Homer. "It is far better than it was last year," he said.
Work for cement masons is picking up too. "As of right now it looks pretty good," said Jerry Zamora, business agent of the Cement Masons Union Local 400 in San Jose.
Construction specialist Borba's advice for others who haven't landed a job: "Keep your head up and keep going. It's out there," he said.