LinkedIn's transformative plans for a new North Bayshore campus received a round of accolades from Mountain View officials during a preliminary review last week. In a Sept. 16 study session, the city's Environmental Planning Commission signaled early support for the project, with members praising it as a vast improvement over the standard office park.
In partnership with the development firm Sywest, LinkenIn has proposed a new 10-building campus that would mix corporate offices with a promenade of new shops and restaurants. The project, along Shoreline Boulevard immediately east of Highway 101, would replace almost an entire block of established businesses, including Laser Quest, the Sports Page bar and, in time, the Cinemark movie theaters.
As proposed, LinkedIn's plans would increase density on the land in the extremely competitive North Bayshore area. The company plans showed a diligent effort to make its new campus harmonize with the neighborhood, said planning commissioner Margaret Capriles. She pointed out that many businesses being forced out by the new project were invited to come back as future tenants.
"There was enough detail here for us to see that this is going in the right direction," Capriles said. "They're trying very hard to make this an inviting place."
The LinkedIn project might be described as the largest of a series of colossal new tech campuses coming to North Bayshore. Earlier this year, the professional-networking company managed to cobble together a partnership between five landowners for a larger development. The company's proposal ultimately won the lion's share of a limited pool of office space the city is allocating for the area, besting a pack of competitors that included Google.
The company's proposal calls for seven office buildings that would reportedly house about 7,500 employees. Each office building would include shops and restaurants on the ground floor. The development would include a new athletic club, a 200-room hotel and at least three levels of parking. The buildings would include a large amount of open space as well as rooftop gardens.
The new development would eventually replace the 16-screen Cinemark theaters. In an email, LinkedIn officials explained their plan was to wait as long as possible before shutting down the theater, but they could not specify an exact date. As soon as possible, a new movie cinema with luxury accommodations would open as part of the campus, they noted.
Commissioners last week urged the company's representatives to find ways to make the building more visually appealing, such as adding artwork to the side of buildings facing the highway.
Given its off-highway location, the LinkedIn development would have big ramifications for the North Bayshore traffic flow. Traffic congestion in the area is considered among the worst in Mountain View, coming mostly from commuting workers. City officials require any new development in the area to carefully address its impact on traffic.
As part of its project, the LinkedIn is pledging a fleet of initiatives to lessen the number of cars on the road. The project would help build new bike lanes along Shoreline Boulevard as well as "reversable" lanes for buses to quickly move in the direction of commuter traffic. The company would also help build a new bike and pedestrian bridge over Highway 101. LinkedIn is pledging that fewer than half its employees at the new campus would drive themselves to work.
Assistant City Development Director Terry Blount said the LinkedIn project is still barely out of the starting gate. The campus plans would be slowly refined over several future city meetings, including a City Council study session scheduled for Oct. 20. Overall, he expressed enthusiasm for the project as part of a larger transformation of North Bayshore into a vibrant community.
"We feel fortunate to have such great plans in place," he said. "This'll be a place that's much more sustainable, much more bike- and pedestrian-friendly and much more of a community than the suburban office park that we're starting with."
The first phase for the new campus will include a new theater, gym and one million square feet of office space. Company officials indicated they hope to complete the first phase by 2019.
Email Mark Noack at email@example.com