Developers eye NASA Research Park | News | Mountain View Online |


Developers eye NASA Research Park


Four major real estate developers have expressed interest in developing a nearly three million-square-foot research park at NASA Ames, according to a consortium of local universities coordinating the project's development.

The consortium, University Associates, LLC — which so far is composed of UC Santa Cruz and the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, but with Santa Clara University and others slated to sign on — announced on Monday the interest of the following four applicants, each of which has extensive experience building large planned communities:

Green Valley Corporation/Barry Swenson Builder

Lowe Enterprises in partnership with Essex Property Trust, Inc., Swinerton Builders and Skanska USA Building, Inc.

SunCal Companies

TMG Partners in partnership with The Related Companies

The proposed research park would take up 77 acres of the southwestern corner of Moffett Field. According to conceptual plans, a winning firm will be selected as master developer of the project, which will eventually include classrooms, housing, commercial and industrial space with buildings over 10 stories high, open space, and portions of walkable mixed-use areas with a "downtown" look.

The master developer would build much of the university buildings — also known as the research park's "Silicon Valley campus"— along with the "horizontal" infrastructure of the rest of the project, said William Berry, a UCSC director who is now president of University Associates.

"It's a good first step but we have a long way to go yet," Berry said. Once a final developer is picked, he said, detailed plans will be drafted and "long and interesting" negotiations will ensue with the developer over lease terms.

An Environmental Impact Study approved in 2002 allows a maximum of 2.9 million square feet, including 1,930 housing units, 600,000 square feet of academic space, 300,000 square feet of industrial space and 100,000 square feet of training and conference space.

In a recession, it would seem that such an expensive project could be a problem for cash-strapped universities to take on, but Berry doesn't think so.

"All of our partners believe student education is going to grow and the demand is going to grow," Berry said. "This is just laying the long-term groundwork for that."

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3 people like this
Posted by Bruce Karney
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2009 at 2:20 pm

I like the comment at the end about "long term groundwork."

Universities are among the longest-living and most adaptable institutions in the developed world. That's not to say that they're perfect, but they do know a thing or two about real long-term planning. There are at least 100 colleges and universities in the US that are more than 200 years old -- how many medium to large private businesses have that kind of longevity?

Therefore, I hope that when their plans are finished they have much more emphasis on providing housing that's in balance with the number of new jobs and students they will bring to the area. Otherwise, they will have failed to look at what makes communities sustainable, no matter how long-term their view is.

3 people like this
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 7, 2009 at 5:54 pm

It seems like this will add significant number of people and car trips on the Northern border of Mountain View. The land is owned by the US Government but I think it's considered inside Mountain View. I hope the city gets involved to make sure this development works with the rest of Mountain View.

3 people like this
Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2009 at 11:23 am

Dream on, Rodger. This city council hasnt met a traffic nightmare yet that they dont embrace

3 people like this
Posted by Keep things in perspective
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 8, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Re: eric's comment about traffic...

Let's keep things in a perspective here. What traffic 'nightmares' have you recently been involved in -- in Mountain View? Waiting for 60 or 90 seconds at a traffic light along El Camino? (Check your watch the next time you're at a light that seems long, then be truthful about the result...) A few minutes of stop-and-go along 101 near the 85/101 merge? More than 3 cars waiting at light along Shoreline, Rengstoff or Middlefield?

By comparison to most other major metro areas -- Washington DC, LA, Atlanta, Houston -- traffic congestion in the Mountain View area is miniscule. But the benefits of a project like this one at NASA Ames in terms of job creation, attracting talented students and professionals, etc -- would be substantial. Let's not snuff this project out before it even gets started due to some alarmism about perceived traffic problems.

3 people like this
Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:13 pm

how about twenty minutes to go from 101 to Shoreline at Charleston? Cars stopped cold on the slow lane of 101 due solely to Shoreline backup? Virtually permanent idling cars up and down Rengstorff?

Waiting at a light isnt 'traffic'. Waiting through 3-4 cycles to get through a light is.

We dont live in DC, Atlanta, etc. The economies of those cities suffer due to gridlock, as does the quality of life

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