Technically, the bar is entitled to stay at its location through 2023, when its current lease expires. But Sports Page owner Rob Graham says Google representatives recently asked if he would end the lease early, around 2020. The company never made a formal offer for him to consider, but the interaction led Graham to ponder his weak position to negotiate with the tech company that now controls most of the neighborhood.
Since buying the property for $12 million last year, Google has not increased the rent for the Sports Page. However, the bar could be liable to cover the increased property taxes resulting from the sale, which would be about $130,000 per year, Graham said. That will be an elephant in the room for any future negotiations, he said.
He says he wants better information on the company's intentions so he and his staff can plan accordingly. Company representatives have repeatedly given him assurances they would take care of him, possibly setting him up at a new location nearby.
"I don't want to fight Godzilla — I just want someone to talk with me and tell me what I can expect for the future," he said. "The last thing I would want is to fight Google."
Google officials did not immediately respond to the Voice's requests for comment.
Graham described his recent interactions with Google at length in a new podcast by The Intersection, a hyperlocal journalism project by David Boyer focused on North Bayshore. Graham later confirmed the details in an interview with the Voice.
Through its meteoric rise and dramatic expansion, Google has a history of creating problems for many of its small-business neighbors in Mountain View's North Bayshore. Nearby cafe and restaurant owners have long complained that the company undermined their business by giving its workforce free meals in private cafeterias. The company's insatiable demand for new office space has resulted in older industrial shops and tradesmen being pushed out of the area. The rapid development planned for the area has also raised a host of concerns for residents at the nearby Santiago Villa mobile home park.
The Sports Page has fared better amid the tech company's expansion. Graham says about half his daily customers work at Google, and the company regularly rents out the bar to host employee events and parties.
If the writing is on the wall and he will be forced to relocate, Graham said he hopes he'll be provided a new space. He would like options for a comparable space across the road from his current location.
"I'm a total realist. If they're going to spend $1 billion on their Googleplex then the last thing they want is a 1920s building at the entrance to it," Graham said. "I just want someone to talk with me so I know what I'll have in the future."
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