It took nearly half a decade, but a massive new office campus at the San Antonio Shopping Center is almost complete. The question is: Who's going to be moving in?
Located right at the junction of Mountain View, Palo Alto and Los Altos, the San Antonio Shopping Center Phase II project is now entering its final stages. But the developers could have a problem on their hands, as they apparently lack a major corporate tenant ready to move in. Billboards advertising available office space are posted throughout the area.
Originally, the project's 400,000 square feet of office space hinged on a deal with LinkedIn, which planned to occupy all of it. But those plans fell apart following some big changes at the professional networking company headquartered in Mountain View.
Last year, LinkedIn signed a massive deal with Google to swap various office sites and development rights in the area. In general, Google received land to build its dream headquarters in North Bayshore while LinkedIn gained various office buildings closer to the Sunnyvale border.
Among the buildings traded to LinkedIn was a 312,000-square-foot property at 700 E. Middlefield Road. That new office space alone made it unnecessary for the company to lease the San Antonio buildings, according to a company spokesperson.
Merlone Geier, the development firm spearheading the San Antonio project, did not respond to requests for comment.
Along with the office component, Phase II of the San Antonio Shopping Center redevelopment project calls for a vast new wing of retail, restaurants and an eight-screen upscale movie theater. In addition, a 167-room Hyatt Centric hotel is expected to open sometime next year.
Update: Merlone Geier representatives say LinkedIn is responsible for finding a new sublease tenant for the San Antonio office space. They expect a sublease tenant to be announced shortly
The market amid the mountains
The approaching completion of San Antonio's new phase is like a "light at the end of the tunnel," Milk Pail Market owner Steve Rasmussen said. For about two years, his small neighborhood grocery has been caught in the center of a cacophony of construction.
In an interview earlier this month, Rasmussen was clearly relieved the end was in sight, pointing out how construction had impeded his customers. That day, the sidewalks around his store were ripped up as part of California Avenue street improvements, and vehicles were having trouble navigating his overwhelmed parking lots.
A banner posted outside the Milk Pail tried to reassure customers: "Open During Construction." But Rasmussen estimated his total business has dropped 30 percent since the San Antonio project launched.
Nevertheless, Rasmussen remained optimistic that his little market would prosper. The Milk Pail will be testing out a new line of pre-made meals, sandwiches and other items tailored for tech workers and moviegoers, he said. The layout of the store could also see some changes, he said.
He was confident his customers wouldn't mind seeing some transformation of the shop.
"If they haven't gotten aggravated by this point, nothing is going to aggravate them," he joked.
Other projects on the horizon
While everyone is pleased to see the San Antonio construction winding down, it's hardly the end of major construction for that area. In fact, plenty of other large projects are coming. Across California Street from the Milk Pail, a 642-home mixed-use project is being proposed by the firm Greystar.
Meanwhile, Federal Realty is expected to eventually redevelop the remaining 33 acres on the southern side of the shopping center. The firm had presented plans last year calling for 2.75 million square feet of new retail, residences and offices. But Federal Realty representatives pulled back these plans just before they came up for public review.