City of Google
In coming years, Internet giant could triple its already huge amount of office space
Google's presence in Mountain View is already unparalleled, with a reported two million square feet of office space in the North Bayshore area — a third of the area's six-million-square-foot market.
But that's only the beginning. The Internet giant has up to four million more square feet of office space in the pipeline, including plans for a new nine-acre complex alongside the company's headquarters.
The space Google currently occupies is roughly the size of three baseball stadiums. On a drive through Mountain View's North Bayshore area, one can find Google's presence on nearly every other street, including Amphitheatre Parkway, Charleston Road, Garcia Avenue, Alta Avenue, Plymouth Street, Crittenden Lane and Stierlin Court.
"They are all over North Bayshore," said building official Ron Geary. "They have 20 to 25 buildings in North Bayshore alone."
Earlier this month, the City Council approved a ground lease with Google allowing the company to build a new 310,000-square-foot development just east of the Googleplex. The facility will occupy half of the 18-acre "Charleston East" site at the corner of Amphitheatre Parkway and Shoreline Boulevard.
City officials said it was their impression that Google still plans to build a million-square-foot campus on the NASA Ames portion of Moffett Field, though the company has been quiet about that plan since it was first announced in October 2005. Since then, Google has entered into an agreement to help NASA Ames organize its "terabytes and terabytes" of data.
Google's reach may also extend to Shorebird Way, where the company plans to build on 64 acres bordered by Shoreline Boulevard to the west and Stevens Creek to the east. Under that plan — which calls for five-story buildings, large parks, "green" building designs and tall parking garages — existing buildings would be demolished to make way for a campus of 1.7 to 2.7 million square feet.
Although the council approved a gatekeeper request for the project in May 2006, Elaine Costello, the city's community development director, said last month that Google's plans for Shorebird Way are "on hold."
The company did not respond to several e-mails from the Voice seeking comment on the subject.
Workers per square foot
Ellis Berns, the city's economic development director, said the company employs about 10,000 people in Mountain View, including contract workers. Given Google's current office space, that translates to 200 square feet of space per worker.
At that rate, the company could eventually have 30,000 workers in Mountain View — close to half the city's regular population. (It's uncertain exactly how many new employees would be hired.) Berns said Mountain View's daytime population is estimated at 118,000.
Google spokesperson Sunny Gettinger said Google would not release an exact number of employees working in Mountain View, because "we don't break down our numbers that way." At a recent meeting, council member Margaret Abe-Koga said she thought the number was about 7,000.
Hiring as many as 17 people a day worldwide, cubicles at Google are said to be routinely rearranged with employees sometimes working in hallways. The company even had to apply for an exemption from the city's parking requirements because there were simply not enough spaces for its workforce, said former council member Greg Perry.
"They tend to have more employees per square foot," said city manager Kevin Duggan.
Rolling in Google money
This fiscal year, the city expects to receive $3.8 million from its leases with Google. Many of the company's buildings are on city-owned land, including its headquarters, the Googleplex and its buildings on Crittenden Lane. Google is also expected to pay the city another $5.2 million in property taxes, said Helen Ansted, an analyst for the city. The large tax bill may be because of huge swaths of property Google owns in the city but does not occupy.
Property taxes, however, go into a fund for projects in the North Bayshore area or to projects that benefit the area, such as the Highway 101 overpasses at Shoreline and Rengstorff avenues.
The city also believes Google employees contribute significantly to sales tax revenues.
"They have a lot of employees that are highly compensated," said Bob Locke, city finance director. "To the extent that those employees spend money in Mountain View — that is highly beneficial to the city's tax base."
To Duggan, the city is lucky to have "the hottest company in the world."
"It is better than not having the hottest company in the world," he said. "We were dealing with empty office buildings just a couple years ago."
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