Mountain View Voice

News - September 30, 2011

More room for Google in newly OK'd office project

by Daniel DeBolt

Google has another option for expansion in Mountain View now that the City Council has approved the construction of a 181,000-square-foot building at 369 North Whisman Road.

Developer Keenan Lovewell Ventures has already leased to Google an adjacent office complex on the site called "the Quad."

A representative of Google, Luis Darrow, assured concerned neighbors that more cars in the neighborhood would not be a problem with "environmentally conscious" Google.

"The actual proportion of cars to people in these building is significantly less than any other company around here," Darrow said. "Everybody will be very pleased with Google as a neighbor."

The project adds two office buildings, one four stories tall and one three stories tall, to a 29.3-acre site that already has 447,000 square feet of office in seven buildings. The buildings will have a LEED silver rating, as called for in the city's green building ordinance. Two parking garages will be built as well.

Two new bike paths will be built on the site, one running north-south and the other running east-west along its northern edge, connecting to the Hetch-Hetchy and Stevens Creek trails.

In return for granting the development agreement which allows the project to be built anytime over the next 10 years (building permits usually last only two years) the city will receive an unusual "community benefit contribution" of $100,000 for the project, an off-site trail from the property to Middlefield Road and the under-grounding of utilities along the property's border with Symantec.

The 10-year agreement "does give us the ability to expand on a moments notice if we have to," Darrow said. "We need that ability to move quickly."

Kennan Lovewell will also pay $1.2 million in below market rate housing fees.

Mayor Jac Siegel and council member Laura Macias said they liked the project but voted against it because they felt it was unnecessary to approve a 10-year agreement. They also opposed subdividing the site into nine parcels, which could make future redevelopment of the site more difficult.

"We're sort of behaving as if businesses don't want to come here and we're offering incentives, but that's not the case," Macias said.

An opportunity to push for new TCE cleanup?

Because the building sits on top of an underground plume of toxic industrial solvent TCE left by early computer component manufacturers, the buildings are required to have sub-slab ventilation systems to prevent toxic vapors from entering the buildings.

Mayor Siegel asked if city staff was aware of new technologies to clean up the TCE faster, presumably because the new development presented an opportunity to require new cleanup efforts on the site, or at least the study of it.

"We have heard that the ability to treat it has improved," said Zoning Administrator Peter Gilli. "The EPA has the authority to implement that as they see needed. It is not something the council would have to look at. But if that's something council would like to see it studied we can work with the EPA and the property owner."

After the meeting, developer John Lovewell said accelerating the stagnant cleanup efforts of the site "is not a cost issue for me" because the responsible party, Schlumberger Technology Corp., would have to pay for it.

"If we could clean it up tomorrow, that would be great," he said.

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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