While City Council members have balked at allowing development in the area until next year, LinkedIn apparently wants to get its foot in the door for a major expansion of its headquarters in North Bayshore, as the company may be competing with Google and others for a limited 3.4 million square feet in new office space that would be allowed there.
On May 27, the City Council is scheduled to decided whether city staff should begin working with LinkedIn and landowner HCP Inc. to help develop the office proposals, including the possibility of new eight-story office towers at 1400 N. Shoreline Blvd. along the north side of Highway 101, "a gateway signature headquarters" replacing several 1960s-era single-story buildings near the movie theater that house Togos, Laser Quest, Gold's Gym and others on a 6.79-acre site.
LinkedIn's 370,000-square-foot headquarters campus on Stierlin Court could also double in size.
"Due to LinkedIn's success and explosive growth, but constrained by the amount of office space available to us locally, we have had to expand outside of Mountain View most recently signing leases and occupying space in both Sunnyvale and San Francisco," said the company in a letter to city planning director Randy Tsuda. "However, it has always been our desire to retain our headquarters in the North Bayshore area and to remain a high value Mountain View-based company."
With up to 690,000 square feet allowed at the 1400 N. Shoreline site, LinkedIn is asking for a big chunk -- 1 million in total -- of that 3.4 million square feet the City Council is discussing as a growth limit for North Bayshore office space. The company could make room for an additional 4,000 to 6,000 employees.
In Mountain View there is increasing sentiment that such plans "could significantly aggravate our city's and the region's housing and transportation crises," said Lenny Siegel, leader of the Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View, who calls on city leaders to not encourage the project until a precise plan is finished for North Bayshore.
"They are trying to get sense whether the city is willing to entertain moving forward with them," said council member Mike Kasperzak, adding that what the council is being asked to vote on is "almost like saying, 'OK, you can start getting in line.'"
That "line" could include Google, which has yet to construct any new buildings in Mountain View, but has bought or leased most of the buildings around LinkedIn's headquarters.
"In terms of comparison to what some other companies have, I'd like to see some other companies get a shot at doing something," Kasperzak said of LinkedIn's ability to compete for space.
LinkedIn's Stierlin Court headquarters sits on 51.8 acres owned by HCP Inc, which wants to begin planning a redevelopment for the whole site, potentially going from 767,000 square feet to 1.9 million square feet of offices there. Existing tenants include Google, Alexza Pharmaceuticals and Complete Genomics. On the eastern half, LinkedIn's site could be allowed to go from 370,000 square feet to 700,000 or 800,000 square feet of new offices that are three stories tall. Four stories would be allowed on the 51.8 acre site's western half, which faces Shoreline Boulevard, possibly for Google and other tenants.
LinkedIn, which boasts over 300 million members and counting, says it wants to be ready to submit a formal development application when the council is ready to receive one, possibly early next year.
The company has proposed LEED platinum buildings with designs that take advantage of proposed new bridge over Highway 101 for shuttles, bicyclists and pedestrians along side Shoreline Boulevard, and "green roofs" with solar panels and vegetation.
"The reported proposal for LEED Platinum status points out the shortcomings of the LEED rating system: In the absence of significant public policy intervention, this development could add millions of vehicle miles to regional roadways each week, causing significant growth in greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution," Siegel said in an email.
Office development by Google and others in North Bayshore has been waiting on the City Council's approval of a "precise plan" for the area by the end of the year, which would focus offices growth along Shoreline Boulevard. Intuit has been given an exception, however, as council members supported the addition of 261,000 square feet for the company on Marine Way last year.
Because of the overwhelming number of office projects in the planning pipeline and worries about spiking housing costs and commuter traffic, City Council members recently voted to scale back a 1-million-square foot office project proposed for 700 East Middlefield Road by a German asset management firm, with some members noting that the city should focus on allowing expansion of companies already in Mountain View. Tsuda has also said that the number of requirements for public benefits and environmental mitigations would also keep all 3.4 million square feet to be allowed in North Bayshore from being developed all at once.
According to the letters from LinkedIn and HCP, the projects would use aggressive transportation programs for employees to meet the city's goal of having solo vehicle drivers equal only 45 percent of all trips into North Bayshore