Google leases campus south of 101 | May 20, 2011 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - May 20, 2011

Google leases campus south of 101

Ellis Street site known as The Quad could house 1,500 workers

by Daniel DeBolt

Google is set to move into Mountain View's Whisman neighborhood next year after signing a 10-year lease for a large campus on Ellis Street.

The expansion would be Google's first move to the other side of Highway 101 in Mountain View. At 300-square-feet per employee, the 450,000-square-foot campus could house 1,500 Googlers.

Owner Keenan-Lovewell Company announced the deal for Google to occupy "The Quad" in a May 12 press release. The 30-acre site is located at 462 Ellis St.

"It's great that Google is looking to stay in Mountain View and expand here," said council member Margaret Abe-Koga. "If they can help revitalize the Whisman neighborhood, I think that's great."

Mayor Jac Siegel was similarly positive about it.

Googlers on their brightly colored company bikes will have to ride a bit further if they want lunch at the Google headquarters' numerous cafes in Mountain View's Shoreline area. Google Maps puts the trip at about 16 minutes, thanks to the Stevens Creek and Hetch-Hetchy trails. It is a six-minute trip by car.

City officials welcome Googlers to spend their money in the neighborhood, of course.

"The hope is we can get more retail in the area," said Abe-Koga, who hopes the company's presence will add to the demand for more retail, a top desire of Whisman residents. A grocery store is especially lacking, they say. But developers have told the City Council that there simply isn't enough population density in the neighborhood — yet.

Randy Tsuda said property owners in the area are considering new development plans as large office spaces in Mountain View appear to be in high demand. The vacancy rate for top-tier office spaces was at 4.5 percent before Google leased the Quad, Tsuda said.

"Now that The Quad has been leased, I don't know of any significant large office vacancies we have left," Tsuda said.

Big things were already in the pipeline for Whisman. Google's presence could accelerate redevelopment if the "Google effect" real estate brokers have described in the past proves true for the Whisman area. Regis Homes has proposed 500 homes nearby on Ferguson Drive, put on hold during the recession. And on the other side of Ellis Street, Dostart Development recently resurrected plans to build a large office campus they say could be headquarters to a major tech company. The City Council has supported a doubling of the allowed density of office buildings in the area, which may become policy in the city's revised general plan next year.

In the Whisman area, Abe-Koga said environmentally conscious Google will be able to fulfill its goals of having housing for employees near the company's offices, reducing car traffic in and out of Mountain View.

"In the Whisman area we have that synergy of residential and commercial," Abe-Koga said. "They could have their employees live by that campus."

The campus is partly described by Keenan-Lovewell as "an excellent example of successful redevelopment of an EPA Superfund site." In 1997 the Quad replaced buildings that once housed early Silicon Valley giant Fairchild Semiconductor, one of several companies which leaked toxic solvents into the groundwater from underground tanks. (See related story on Page 1). After almost 20 years of cleanup efforts, the site appears to maintain some of the highest concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the soil and groundwater.

Google is set to move into six of the seven buildings on site as early as January 2012. The seventh building will continue to be occupied by Symantec in 2012 and possibly in 2013.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at