Google buys Pear Avenue Theatre
Are tech titans in a fight over real estate?
In what may be a competition with Microsoft over real estate in the North Bayshore area, Google recently purchased the building that houses a small local theater group at 1220 Pear Ave.
It is unclear what Google's plans are for the building that houses the Pear Avenue Theatre playhouse. Some speculate it may be part of a strategy to block Microsoft from buying up all of the property in the neighborhood.
A Microsoft sign recently appeared on another Pear Avenue building, and Microsoft already has a large campus a block south of Pear Avenue on La Avenida. Google's headquarters, and a dozen other Google buildings, are less than a mile away.
In an e-mail, Google spokesperson John Murchinson said the purchase of the small warehouse is part of Google's "long-term growth strategy and it will be treated as an investment." The price and exact size of the parcel were not immediately available.
By conservative estimates, the company already owns a third of the six million square feet of office space in the Shoreline district. That could increase if Google leases the now vacant, 450-square-foot Alza building next to the Googleplex.
A block north of Pear Avenue, Google owns 64 acres of land zoned for office space surrounding Shorebird Way, where, like many of its other properties, there is not a clear timeline for development.
"To me the line will be crossed when they are given massive up-zoning in return for building a hotel," said former City Council member Greg Perry, referring to Google's desire to triple the density on Shorebird Way while also negotiating with the city to build a hotel and conference center, long desired by the city at the corner of Shoreline Boulevard and Charleston Road.
What will happen to The Pear is uncertain. Its lease expires this October.
"We assume that at some point there is a good chance Google will want to do something with that space," said Diane Tasca, artistic director of The Pear. "They also bought the building next to us."
The 15,000-square-foot building has several other tenants, including a photo studio, a glass shop and a Pilates studio, some of which have longer leases than The Pear, Tasca said. The longest lease runs until July 2009.
Zoning administrator Peter Gilli said in an e-mail that Google would have to rezone the site to build office space there.
After talking to someone close to the deal, Tasca speculated that Google bought the building in a "strategic" move — in order to keep Microsoft "in check."
Tasca said she was planning to meet with Google representatives to find out how long The Pear would be able to stay.
"If they are going to keep the building so The Pear can keep running, that's great," Perry said. "I used to go to The Pear frequently. It's a great local theater."
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