Commercial real estate goes hand in hand with the local economy. If more jobs are being created, companies need more office space. If job shrink, then office vacancies increase.

Edward Del Beccaro, managing director of the East Bay office of commercial real estate firm Transwestern, has 34 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry. Before joining Transwestern, he headed up the local offices of commercial realty brokerages Colliers International and Grubb & Ellis.

He recently was interviewed about the commercial real estate market and the regional economy. His comments have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: What is your assessment of the Bay Area economy?

A: The Bay Area is one of the healthiest metro areas for job creation in the entire United States. It is because of the intellectual capital in the South Bay and San Francisco, and the manufacturing and transportation capabilities in the East Bay. That's been the division of labor here for a long time.

Q: What about the East Bay? How do you see that economy?

A: The East Bay is characterized by anemic growth, but growth nonetheless. The Port of Oakland and the refineries will help the East Bay economy grow, even if it is very slow growth. The East Bay will have anemic growth, but most of the country is going to be jealous of that growth.


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Q: The South Bay has enjoyed strong leasing activity from Google (GOOG), Apple (AAPL), and other major tech companies. Do you think that office leasing boom is going to continue?

A: I think it will hold steady despite all the bad crosswinds.

Q: What are some of those crosswinds?

A: My daughter is deployed on a Navy ship in the Persian Gulf right now. If there is an Iranian or Middle East oil event, that will be an issue. That will flatten growth.

Q: What about the East Bay commercial real estate market? What is happening there?

A: Our current trend of slow growth and slow leasing continues. Look at the job creation vehicles and the absorption. They are more dynamic in the South Bay than the East Bay.

Q What trends do you see for the retail market in the East Bay?

A In eastern Contra Costa County, there are rising vacancies for big-box retail. Developers overproduced retail in East County. It's because of the foreclosures that there was less demand for retail than anticipated.

Q: What about the new Paragon Outlets in Livermore? Why are those doing so well?

A: That part of the East Bay was underserved. You have the BART station in the area and connections to the Central Valley, and the Paragon outlets are near two major freeways, 580 and 680, that intersect in the area. And they are building new houses in Livermore and Dublin. Forget about the foreclosures, the prices are high enough that they are building. The Tri-Valley is strong because that is a commuting suburb to Silicon Valley.

Q: How is retail doing in the South Bay?

A: South Bay retail is strong. Retail reflects the dynamics of strong engines for growth. Cars, merchandise, restaurants are all doing well. Same thing in San Francisco. Same thing in Walnut Creek and Emeryville and the Tri-Valley. Those are all good retail markets.

Q: What is your assessment of the downtown Oakland office and retail markets?

A: Oakland is a tale of several cities. Uptown is healthy and getting healthier. Jack London Square is getting better. Broadway addresses tend to be tougher for getting tenants in there. You never know when you're going to be shut down because of an Occupy protest march.

Q: Overall, will Oakland see improvement?

A: Oakland, because of its central location and transportation access, has a lot of potential.

Q: Long term, do you see that Silicon Valley is going to continue on its growth pace for the commercial property market?

A: Bottom line is that Silicon Valley continues its present leasing and absorption activity and levels. And that will benefit the entire Bay Area.

Contact George Avalos at 925-977-8477. Follow him at Twitter.com/george_avalos.

Edward Del Beccaro

Age: 58
Birthplace: Covington, Ky.
Company: Transwestern
Position: Managing director
Residence: Danville

Five Things about Edward Del Beccaro

As past president of the Walnut Creek Library Foundation, he has raised several million dollars to build a new library.
He has a personal library in Danville with 4,000 books.
He is a volunteer for arts organizations.
His daughter is a petty officer in the U.S. Navy and that has caused him to be more involved in veterans organizations.
He is an "amateur urbanologist." He loves to know how cities are born, how they evolve and how they decay.