News

City Council approves massive Google Landings office project

Google's proposed Landings project puts a cascading series of office buildings visible from Highway 101 in Mountain View's North Bayshore area. Rendering courtesy Google

One of Mountain View's largest ever office projects won the council's approval Tuesday night, paving the way for Google to build out 800,000 square feet of office buildings in North Bayshore along a stretch of Highway 101.

Dubbed the Landings project, Google is seeking to build out a large part of its tech park in a series of cascading office buildings linked together with a sawtooth roof between Rengstorff Avenue and Permanente Creek. Along with Charleston East and Bay View, the trio of projects heavily expand the tech giant's presence in the city.

The full scope of the Landings project encompasses a grand total of more than 41 acres, demolishing several smaller office buildings in the area and replacing them with close to three times the original office space. The project proposes removing a whopping 1,058 trees, but would replace them with 1,279 native and more regionally appropriate trees, about one-fourth of which will be planted offsite prior to construction.

Much of the Landings office building is "lifted" off of the ground, making room for landscaping and pedestrians. Rendering courtesy Google

Representatives from Google touted the project's environmental sustainability, including a geothermal system for heating and cooling and a massive solar array expected to offset 28% of the energy demand of the building. The project would also transform a segment of Permanente Creek from a narrow channel into an expanded riparian habitat, said Drew Wenzel, a development executive for Google.

Rather than wedge all of the parking needed for Landings on the site, Google is proposing to build a separate four-story parking garage with 1,709 spaces between Alta and Huff avenues. The company's development plans for Landings and Charleston East depend on the centrally located parking garage for future parking demands, making it an integral part of the proposal Tuesday.

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Council members said there is a lot to like about the project itself -- along with a community benefit package for the city valued at more than $44 million -- but hanging heavy over the discussion was whether the Landings project was ever going to get built.

Multiple council members revealed at the meeting that they had met with representatives from Google and found that the company's appetite for new office space may be drying up. Partially influenced by the coronavirus pandemic and the temporary shift to remote working, Google is currently reevaluating its need for additional offices, according to council members. Google officials at the meeting did not indicate that the plans to build the Landings project were in jeopardy.

Council member Lucas Ramirez said he worries about the possibility that Google will move forward with one part of the project -- the parking garage -- and simply drop the plans to build the Landings offices, when both were intended to be built together. The city would then be stuck with a parking garage that may not have won approval on its own, an outcome he described as "immensely dissatisfying."

Other council members weren't as bothered by the prospect. Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga said the parking garage could provide much-needed parking for future office development throughout North Bayshore as a sort of central hub. Plus, the garage has the added perk of including 10,500 square feet of badly needed public retail space in the area.

"Whether Landings gets built or not, my hope is that the extra spaces can be used for future office buildings that Google plans to build in other neighborhoods," Abe-Koga said. "Everything in this area is pretty walkable and close, so this could be a centralized parking structure for future office buildings if Landings doesn't happen."

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Also a lingering concern is whether ambitious plans to build thousands of homes in North Bayshore will come to fruition if they are not directly tethered to the office growth in the area. Members of the advocacy group Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning urged the City Council not to approve any massive office developments without a corresponding increase in housing.

Google is reportedly working on a development proposal called the Shorebird master plan that includes thousands of homes, which is currently in the works and will hopefully be revealed in the coming months, said Michael Tymoff, Google's real estate director. When asked whether Google can provide some kind of assurance to the community that the housing will get built, Tymoff said it comes down to trust.

"Google has demonstrated a deep commitment to housing and being a partner with the city to identify viable economic solutions to deliver that much needed housing," Tymoff said. "I think their commitment has been demonstrated in past actions, and all I can give you tonight is our word that we'll continue to partner with the city."

The proposed Huff parking garage will provide parking to multiple Google office projects, and is seen as an integral part of the company's development plans. Rendering courtesy Google

With the fate of the Landings project at least theoretically up in the air, council members took a cautious approach to allocating the community benefits that are tied to the office development. Notably, the company is offering $2.5 million for the city's homeless initiatives and $900,000 to fund a Magical Bridge playground at Rengstorff Park, and there was a question of whether the money would ever make it to either cause.

Given the uncertainty over Landings, Councilman John McAlister pitched that Google could just donate $900,000 to Magical Bridge out of the "good nature" of the company, but Wenzel said that amounts to a financial commitment that he wasn't cleared to make at the time of the meeting. Given the tentative nature of the project, council members ultimately voted the hold off on deciding how to spend the possible trove of community benefit money.

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City Council approves massive Google Landings office project

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Wed, Jun 24, 2020, 1:41 pm

One of Mountain View's largest ever office projects won the council's approval Tuesday night, paving the way for Google to build out 800,000 square feet of office buildings in North Bayshore along a stretch of Highway 101.

Dubbed the Landings project, Google is seeking to build out a large part of its tech park in a series of cascading office buildings linked together with a sawtooth roof between Rengstorff Avenue and Permanente Creek. Along with Charleston East and Bay View, the trio of projects heavily expand the tech giant's presence in the city.

The full scope of the Landings project encompasses a grand total of more than 41 acres, demolishing several smaller office buildings in the area and replacing them with close to three times the original office space. The project proposes removing a whopping 1,058 trees, but would replace them with 1,279 native and more regionally appropriate trees, about one-fourth of which will be planted offsite prior to construction.

Representatives from Google touted the project's environmental sustainability, including a geothermal system for heating and cooling and a massive solar array expected to offset 28% of the energy demand of the building. The project would also transform a segment of Permanente Creek from a narrow channel into an expanded riparian habitat, said Drew Wenzel, a development executive for Google.

Rather than wedge all of the parking needed for Landings on the site, Google is proposing to build a separate four-story parking garage with 1,709 spaces between Alta and Huff avenues. The company's development plans for Landings and Charleston East depend on the centrally located parking garage for future parking demands, making it an integral part of the proposal Tuesday.

Council members said there is a lot to like about the project itself -- along with a community benefit package for the city valued at more than $44 million -- but hanging heavy over the discussion was whether the Landings project was ever going to get built.

Multiple council members revealed at the meeting that they had met with representatives from Google and found that the company's appetite for new office space may be drying up. Partially influenced by the coronavirus pandemic and the temporary shift to remote working, Google is currently reevaluating its need for additional offices, according to council members. Google officials at the meeting did not indicate that the plans to build the Landings project were in jeopardy.

Council member Lucas Ramirez said he worries about the possibility that Google will move forward with one part of the project -- the parking garage -- and simply drop the plans to build the Landings offices, when both were intended to be built together. The city would then be stuck with a parking garage that may not have won approval on its own, an outcome he described as "immensely dissatisfying."

Other council members weren't as bothered by the prospect. Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga said the parking garage could provide much-needed parking for future office development throughout North Bayshore as a sort of central hub. Plus, the garage has the added perk of including 10,500 square feet of badly needed public retail space in the area.

"Whether Landings gets built or not, my hope is that the extra spaces can be used for future office buildings that Google plans to build in other neighborhoods," Abe-Koga said. "Everything in this area is pretty walkable and close, so this could be a centralized parking structure for future office buildings if Landings doesn't happen."

Also a lingering concern is whether ambitious plans to build thousands of homes in North Bayshore will come to fruition if they are not directly tethered to the office growth in the area. Members of the advocacy group Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning urged the City Council not to approve any massive office developments without a corresponding increase in housing.

Google is reportedly working on a development proposal called the Shorebird master plan that includes thousands of homes, which is currently in the works and will hopefully be revealed in the coming months, said Michael Tymoff, Google's real estate director. When asked whether Google can provide some kind of assurance to the community that the housing will get built, Tymoff said it comes down to trust.

"Google has demonstrated a deep commitment to housing and being a partner with the city to identify viable economic solutions to deliver that much needed housing," Tymoff said. "I think their commitment has been demonstrated in past actions, and all I can give you tonight is our word that we'll continue to partner with the city."

With the fate of the Landings project at least theoretically up in the air, council members took a cautious approach to allocating the community benefits that are tied to the office development. Notably, the company is offering $2.5 million for the city's homeless initiatives and $900,000 to fund a Magical Bridge playground at Rengstorff Park, and there was a question of whether the money would ever make it to either cause.

Given the uncertainty over Landings, Councilman John McAlister pitched that Google could just donate $900,000 to Magical Bridge out of the "good nature" of the company, but Wenzel said that amounts to a financial commitment that he wasn't cleared to make at the time of the meeting. Given the tentative nature of the project, council members ultimately voted the hold off on deciding how to spend the possible trove of community benefit money.

Comments

MVFlyer
St. Francis Acres
on Jun 24, 2020 at 2:15 pm
MVFlyer, St. Francis Acres
on Jun 24, 2020 at 2:15 pm
15 people like this

Housing is mentioned in passing, but where will the folks who work there live? Yes, Google runs tech buses all over the place, but there is still not enough housing in the area. We need more (affordable!) housing, not just more office space.


Bruce England
Whisman Station
on Jun 24, 2020 at 2:20 pm
Bruce England, Whisman Station
on Jun 24, 2020 at 2:20 pm
10 people like this

The omission of the Magical Bridge Playground funding very much concerns me. I don't really appreciate why that had to drop out of the package. Surely this wouldn't have been a deal breaker, and the playground will be an invaluable asset to our community.


GS
Rengstorff Park
on Jun 24, 2020 at 2:32 pm
GS, Rengstorff Park
on Jun 24, 2020 at 2:32 pm
13 people like this

Michael Tymoff, Google's real estate director said. "I think their commitment has been demonstrated in past actions..." Based on that, I hope Google leaves Mountain View as it is very clear that Google is all about "me me me me me."


Dr. Strange
Blossom Valley
on Jun 24, 2020 at 3:05 pm
Dr. Strange, Blossom Valley
on Jun 24, 2020 at 3:05 pm
7 people like this

Seems this could be a dubious time to be building more office space. I think there will be plenty of vacant space around here for the next few years -- demand is going to fall through the floor with covid.


Concerned
North Bayshore
on Jun 24, 2020 at 6:41 pm
Concerned, North Bayshore
on Jun 24, 2020 at 6:41 pm
8 people like this

Google has completely destroyed the area. City council does anything they want , for the money. They tore up Charleston Park and eliminated the promised parking spaces. When you notify anyone at city hall there is no response. Google has killed all of the trees. And now there will just be empty offices there. How long until they no longer give Mountain View any of the money?


Special Needs Parent
Cuesta Park
on Jun 24, 2020 at 9:21 pm
Special Needs Parent, Cuesta Park
on Jun 24, 2020 at 9:21 pm
11 people like this

I am very concerned that Magical Bridge Playground will not be fully funded and that they will have to build something "less magical" than Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto. I do not understand why the city or Google doesn't fund this small gap, and then we can start building the playground. Mountain View claims to be inclusive, but their actions speak otherwise.

I thank (former) Mayor Matichak and Councilmember Ramirez for raising the question about filling in the funding gap. Where are the rest of the council members on this issue? Why can't Google just fill in the gap? This will be the one place that is really welcoming for all our residents, including my disabled child who can only play at Palo Alto's Magical Bridge.

Our community is tired of waiting for this to happen.


Kelly
Shoreline West
on Jun 25, 2020 at 5:50 am
Kelly, Shoreline West
on Jun 25, 2020 at 5:50 am
5 people like this

The real estate development life cycle is pretty long. As the article says, it's taken 5 years to source approvals for this and even if they started construction tomorrow, would be another 24-30 months until it was ready to occupy, so I don't think it's weird that these approvals would hit now.

Google itself has decided to slow-roll the return to office. They probably won't have their offices at more than 30% capacity for the rest of the year. Add in that they will likely be far more willing to let a large percentage of its workforce work remotely for years (and that by all accounts thousands of their Mountain View based employees have already moved elsewhere in the country while they have to work from home), I don't think there is going to be a need for this office square footage for quite some time. Especially when you add in the millions of square feet they are developing in downtown San Jose.

The towns of the valley are finally getting what they want. All the corporate and property taxes from their multi-trillion dollar tech employers, but fewer and fewer of it's employees.


Mark
Monta Loma
on Jun 25, 2020 at 6:45 am
Mark, Monta Loma
on Jun 25, 2020 at 6:45 am
8 people like this

Here we go again. The CC continues kissing Googoo's ass. More tree removals! Progress! Take their "community benefits" bribe money! Choke choke.


John Page
Sylvan Park
on Jun 25, 2020 at 7:47 am
John Page, Sylvan Park
on Jun 25, 2020 at 7:47 am
8 people like this

All the people working there will simply add to the freeway traffic. Google should pioneer the idea of smaller offices out near where people want to live. They have the technology to allow remote working - use it!

Note I said "where people want to live". That is not where they are forced to live by the need to to commute to Mountain View and affordable prices. I am thinking Half Moon Bay. Santa Cruz. Grass Valley.


John
Monta Loma
on Jun 25, 2020 at 9:32 am
John, Monta Loma
on Jun 25, 2020 at 9:32 am
3 people like this

finally google gets the approval. It is long over due. It is google's land, it is Google that brings in jobs, it is again google that operates a huge bus system. I can't think of a better neighbor than that.


Parents for parks
Rengstorff Park
on Jun 25, 2020 at 10:32 am
Parents for parks, Rengstorff Park
on Jun 25, 2020 at 10:32 am
11 people like this

Council committed park fees towards Magical Bridge when they agreed to a matching grant from Santa Clara County. Community fundraising goals have been met why is the city not using the park fees they have available and committed to. As a family that lives in the area I question where are our park fees are going. Rengstorff is one of the largest parks in the city, next to Cuesta. We deserve to have a well build and designed playground, especially in this economic diverse mixed use housing area. The community has already provided design input with a scope of funds that was allocated for the project. Why use magical bridge as a political debate regarding development process.

This hurts our community and if you don't follow through with your commitment then we all question where these developer fees are actually used for. We have park fees available. Use them!


SRB
St. Francis Acres
on Jun 25, 2020 at 11:23 am
SRB, St. Francis Acres
on Jun 25, 2020 at 11:23 am
Like this comment

I'm confused about the Magical Bridge funding. Didn't the City already provide $1M? Or was it contingent on the Landings project (i.e.g City pledged money not in hand)?


Nihonsuki
Stierlin Estates
on Jun 25, 2020 at 1:14 pm
Nihonsuki, Stierlin Estates
on Jun 25, 2020 at 1:14 pm
2 people like this

I thought that Google's plan was to build this office in order to move offices out of the Shorebird area so that that area could be turned into housing. So theoretically there will not be a huge increase in people going into North Bayshore. However, as I recall the North Bayshore Precise Plan still budgets a net increase in office space even when it's totally built out.


Xx an Freidin
Waverly Park
on Jun 25, 2020 at 3:26 pm
Xx an Freidin, Waverly Park
on Jun 25, 2020 at 3:26 pm
4 people like this

Thank you Google for making Mountain View your home. Best decision I’ve seen approved by City Council in many years.


Claire
Slater
on Jun 25, 2020 at 5:49 pm
Claire, Slater
on Jun 25, 2020 at 5:49 pm
9 people like this

We have been promising our children Magical Bridge park for years. The children from every school have been doing Coin Drive with such enthusiasm. And here we are, adults, not being able to keep our promises to them. Why? Because of all of the battles between who will have the most power over the city. Can we just stop, take a breath, and think about other than ourselves? I have witnessed the joy that Magical Bridge in Palo Alto brings to all the people that visit it, and I cannot understand how a city as rich as Mountain View or a big company such as Google cannot find $900,000 to close the gap for the construction of the most magical place for everyone. Please can we stop the greed for a moment and look at the big picture? Our children
are watching...


Tina
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2020 at 7:20 pm
Tina, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2020 at 7:20 pm
3 people like this

This is a bit off subject, but how are Google employees going to get to the 2 gigantic mushrooms out on Moffit field? It looks like the access road is the Moffit exit off 101. It's only one short lane. Seems like a real boondoggle if that's the only way in.


Jimmymlynn
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2020 at 7:37 pm
Jimmymlynn , Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2020 at 7:37 pm
Like this comment

The article fails to credit the architect. Why is that?


Thida Cornes - Former Parks & Rec Commissioner
Shoreline West
on Jun 29, 2020 at 3:33 pm
Thida Cornes - Former Parks & Rec Commissioner, Shoreline West
on Jun 29, 2020 at 3:33 pm
Like this comment

If City Council doesn't want to approve Google Landings, then it needs to step up and fill the funding gap for Magical Bridge with Park Land Dedication Fees. These fees are a separate fund from the general budget and come from developers who have previously built in Mountain View and by state law must either donate land for parks or pay fees.

Other Cities have donated $2 million because they recognize the unique value of Magical Bridge Playground. It truly is accessible to all ages and all abilities. The Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto is the most popular playground in the area, attracting thousands of visitors for months, and people drive for miles to come.

I was very excited when City Council chose to put the Magical Bridge Playground in Rengstrorff Park since many families who live around the park can't afford to drive their children to a playground. Now unless City Council steps up, these kids will get a lesser Magical Bridge. I think this sends a terrible message to these kids and about City Council's priorities.


Thida Cornes - Former Parks & Rec Commissioner
Shoreline West
on Jun 29, 2020 at 4:40 pm
Thida Cornes - Former Parks & Rec Commissioner, Shoreline West
on Jun 29, 2020 at 4:40 pm
Like this comment

Sorry, I should have written if Google doesn't want to approve its Landings Project. As you probably know, previously, City Council has been the one to hold back on projects. But we live in interesting times.


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