Mountain View Voice

News - October 4, 2013

Google expansion brings mixed feelings

Company to move into its first brand-new MV building

by Daniel DeBolt

While Google has been in Mountain View for years, the company has yet to occupy an entirely new building in the city. That will change soon.

Google has signed a lease with the Sobrato family for a 156,317-square-foot building to be constructed at 1255 Pear Avenue, one of three moves the company made to expand in Mountain View over the summer.

The company also signed a lease for the 500,000-square-foot building that once housed the Mayfield Mall — now undergoing a massive renovation — and bought a 2.3-acre property at 1161 San Antonio Road with a pair of R&D buildings measuring 23,610 square feet and 10,380 square feet.

All told, Google will soon have space for 2,500 more employees at the Mayfield site, 785 on Pear Avenue and 170 more on San Antonio Road. City officials estimate that Google already has over 20,000 employees in Mountain View, which is growing as the company renovates a number of existing buildings around its headquarters at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway. Only about 2,000 Google employees live in Mountain View, now a city of over 75,000 people, city officials say. The company currently owns or leases well over 60 buildings in Mountain View.

"Mountain View certainly isn't the town it was 20 or 30 years ago, but neither is Silicon Valley," said council member Mike Kasperzak. The impacts of Google's growth have become obvious, he said: Shoreline Boulevard is more gridlocked than ever, there's been an unprecedented spike in rents and restaurants are struggling as a bigger percentage of workers eat free gourmet lunches on campus. Home owners, however, (including every City Council member) "are getting wealthier on paper" as their property values rise.

"I have concerns about the cost of housing in Mountain View," Kasperzak said. "Anybody that owns their property is probably thrilled with what's going on, but the price of entry is going up rapidly. I haven't seen an apartment or rent spike like this in a long time. That causes a lot of concern to everybody on the council."

According to data service Real Facts, average rents for a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in Mountain View went up from $1,897 in 2009 to $2,520 in 2012, and rents are continuing to rise dramatically this year.

New North Bayshore office

The five-story office building planned for Google at 1255 Pear Ave. was approved by the city's zoning administrator in July, and will be the first entirely new building in North Bayshore to be built during Google's tenure time.

New development north of Highway 101 is largely at a standstill for the next two years until the City Council develops a precise plan to guide development in the area, but the 1255 Pear Ave. project was able to go forward because it does not take advantage of the city's new general plan, which allows for three times more square footage on the property. Over 75 percent of the 10.25-acre lot will be covered with open space, a courtyard and over 500 parking spaces. The site is bordered by the Sahara Village Mobile Home Park, Pear Avenue, Inigo Way and La Avenida. To be demolished soon are nine buildings totaling 141,878 square feet, including the site of a Crossfit gym and a few small tech companies.

Google had previously proposed 1.1 million square feet of new office space at NASA Ames, as well as a large new building at Shoreline Boulevard and Charleston Road, but both projects are now on hold as the City Council gets ready to deliberate on specific plans for the area.

"One of the reasons for Google's acquisitions strategy is the uncertainty of their ability to build," Kasperzak said of the wait for precise plans to guide development in North Bayshore and the Whisman area. "If they can't build, they've got to buy."

As a result, Google has been buying and leasing property just outside of Mountain View, including a recent lease for 14.75 acres with 200,000 square feet of space on East Meadow Circle in Palo Alto. Google is reportedly committed to occupying enough space for 10,000 to 15,000 new employees in the area.

Kasperzak says many people are happy to have Google in Mountain View. Some read news about the company expanding in Sunnyvale and Palo Alto, and say, "Oh my God, Google is moving! There is this feeling, 'I don't want them to leave, but do they have to grow so fast?' I get the sense sometimes that people are conflicted," Kasperzak said.

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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