Apr 16, 2018 06:34AM
By Fran Miller
Local developer Mark Hall, who commands a diverse portfolio of residential, retail, hospitality and commercial holdings in Walnut Creek and across the country, is more than just an opportunistic acquirer of real estate. Hall is an uncommon visionary with an extraordinary breadth of global knowledge and a voracious appetite for lifelong learning. His Walnut Creek-based company, Hall Equities Group, shrewdly capitalizes on urban economic trends, investing in and developing shopping centers, hotels, recreational facilities, master plan communities, and multi-family housing. A short list of Hall Equity’s recent Walnut Creek projects includes Sprouts Farmers Market plaza on Geary Road, The Arroyo Residences, 24 Hour Fitness and Chick-Fil-A on North Main Street, and The Habit Burger Grill and Charles Schwab strip center on California Boulevard.
An Acalanes High School graduate, Hall owes much of his success to homegrown roots in and around Walnut Creek. Beyond local connections, he possesses an astute ability to spot larger market trends and invest accordingly.“I started working with local families in Walnut Creek during the mid-80s, stitching together real estate investments and acquiring properties,” Hall says. “That’s really the foundation of my personal career and my balance sheet today.”
His fascination with Scientific American magazine shaped Hall’s early investments and ultimately led to a deal in 1993 with the US Department of Energy that transformed a 1950s-era vacant Dow Chemical laboratory into the Joint Genome Institute—a world-class life science laboratory. Other projects at Shadelands Business Park soon followed including Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, Children’s Hospital, and Muir Orthopedic Specialists.
Now twenty years later, Hall’s passion for science is shaping his latest venture at the business park, the Shadelands SportsMall—a $50 million dollar project that is one of the largest privately financed indoor youth sports complexes in the United States. Pulling together a team of experts in a variety of fields, the comprehensive 250,000-square-foot facility, located on the former Contra Costa Times site, incorporates state-of-the-art technology into training programs helping young athletes achieve maximum physical and mental potential. Currently home to Ultimate Fieldhouse Basketball and Steph Curry Select Camps, the mega sports complex will soon add COPA Soccer Training Center, Encore Gymnastics, American Swim Academy, Mike Murphy Baseball, Vibe Volleyball, Sparta Taekwondo, and Raga Yoga to its stellar tenant lineup. Phased openings are expected to begin this fall.
“This is definitely a different type of sports center,” says Hall, whose quest for the latest in sports performance technology led him to neuroscience-centric Germany. “We’ve identified the best-in-class youth sports programs, trainers, and equipment from around the world, and designed a sports facility where the focus is not on league and tourney play, but rather technology and skills development,” says Hall. “Participants will receive intense training and hard data that they can use to improve their athleticism.”
In addition to training enterprises, SportsMall will include a quick service café, Genius Juice and Tea, and Sports Bistro Live!, a full-service restaurant operated in collaboration with Walnut Creek’s longtime favorite Sunrise Bistro. The restaurant will feature a closed-circuit video network designed for parents who want to watch their children in action. A central stage will host live performances by children, including those from the neighboring School for the Performing Arts.
During international reconnaissance trips for the Shadelands SportsMall, Hall developed an avid interest in soccer, which led to the purchase of a professional United Soccer League expansion team. “Soccer is the biggest sport in the world and the largest spectator event on earth,” says Hall, “It bridges nationalities, ethnic groups, and religions – it’s all encompassing and it’s enthralling.” Currently, he is scouting East Bay locations to field his franchise—specifically in Central Contra Costa County—seeking land for a stadium with seating for 18,000 soccer fans. Downtown Concord has emerged as a leading contender for this project. Hall is also proposing a convention center, retail space, and three major hotels to join the stadium complex.
"Our USL club is a natural extension of our other sports-oriented activities currently underway in the East Bay,” says Hall. “We see a unique opportunity to fill a professional sports void in the East Bay created from the loss of the Oakland Raiders and the Golden State Warriors. We intend to fill that void with soccer, which we see as the up-and-coming sport of the future. A well-conceived stadium complex can be a game-changing economic generator.”
Along with uncorking a major recreational makeover of the region, expected to draw thousands of visitors from across the state, Hall Equities is also working on plans to build three new hotels in Walnut Creek- one at Ygnacio & Civic, one at Shadelands and one downtown adjacent to Habit Burger. While soccer may be a new venture for the group, the hotel world is old hat. Hall Equities Group owns and operates 41 hotels in 11 states, 18 of which are within the Hilton brand.