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Dot.Com Real Estate Scramble Sends San Francisco Property Values Through Roof

Aired May 4, 2000 - 2:44 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Cyberspace may be a virtual place; office space, however, is not. Every dot.com needs a home, and in San Francisco the real estate scramble is sending property values through the roof.

Here's CNN's Rusty Dornin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's hot, it's hip, it's a landlord's dream come true. In San Francisco's area south of Market Street known as SoMa, you couldn't give away office space five years ago. Now, hundreds of dot.com companies are fighting to gut old warehouses and get them wired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the center of the digital universe right now.

DORNIN: For Joel Maske of iSyndicate, all is fair in love and bidding wars. He offered the landlord more than hard cash and promises. How about a piece of the dot.com dream?

JOEL MASKE, CEO, ISYNDICATE: Stock options have become a hot commodity, definitely part of the currency, and have been used extensively by us and many others to make sure that we can nail these spots down.

DORNIN (on camera): The recent volatility of high-tech stocks has some landlords thumbing their nose at the stock option option. They want greenbacks only and the assurance that the new tenant is solid enough to pay the rent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: DoubleClick has signed a lease up the street.

DORNIN (voice-over): Still, it's a stampede that some say is like the days of the gold rush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... LookSmart.com, CNET...

DORNIN: Combine it with San Francisco's new ballpark, new waterfront, and not only do people want to work here, they want to live here. These apartments above the Four Seasons Hotel won't be ready till next year. They sold out in six weeks, the price tag from $1 million to $15 million.

CHRISTOPHER JEFFRIES, MILLENNIUM PARTNERS: It was the most amazing flurry of activity in the real estate market, for very expensive real estate, that I'd ever seen.

DORNIN: Car repair shop owner Harry Hayashi fears landlords greedy for higher rents will drive him out of business. His lease comes up in December. He pays $5,000 a month.

HARRY HAYASHI, PACIFIC MOTORS: And then it's going to be $20,000, right? So, no way -- I mean, no way to stay here.

DORNIN: The newcomers may be affluent and hip, but some fear a loss of diversity will be too high a price in a city known for it's character.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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