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Best Projects of 2006 Intended to Inspire

Complex capitalizes on heavy demand for light industrial, warehouse condo spaces.

The Vineyard, 4300 Redwood Highway, San Rafael. Project: A mixed-use, 131,000-square-foot commercial-industrial-warehouse condominium project made up of 50 units in 16 buildings on 10 acres. Developer: Keenan Lovewell Ventures Inc., Palo Alto. Architect: Ken Rodrigues, Mountain View. General contractor: Devcon Construction Inc., Milpitas. Landscape architect: Anthony M. Guzzardo & Associates, San Francisco. Cost: $28 million. Features: Vineyard prominent feature in landscaping, picnic areas, fountain and garden pathways; roll-up garage style doors on some industrial units. Occupancy rate: 100 percent. Completed: 2005.

The Vineyard was transformed several times in the seven or so years the industrial, warehouse and office condominium complex in northern San Rafael was planned.

Developers Chop Keenan and John Lovewell first presented the city of San Rafael with two choices for the 10-acre site off Redwood Highway in the late 1990s: commercial offices or a light industrial complex that Keenan Lovewell Ventures would own and lease back.

But in 2001, following the tech crash, office vacancies jumped more than 400 percent in the county while industrial vacancies continued to fall, according to a report prepared by the Marin Economic Commission.

The report said industrial space was crucial for expansion of high-wage employers.

Not only that, though, Mr. Lovewell said, the commission issued an alert saying there was high demand for space that small businesses could own.

Keenan Lovewell Ventures changed plans.

“We came up with this idea of selling small condos instead of building something we’d lease and own,” he said. “As it turned out, there was a huge demand in the county.”

It took about 18 months to lease the 131,000 square feet of light industrial and warehouse space and offices.

The complex at 4300 Redwood Highway is sold out, though one space was available for resale as of last week. One 2,557-square-foot warehouse space with a roll-up garage door was listed in late October for resale for $649,000, or $253.81 per square foot.