Google Expands Vision for North Bayshore District in Mountain View, Adding 1.3MM SQFT of Office to its Proposal

Google, North Bayshore, Mountain View, Lendlease, SyWest

By Meghan Hall

Google is continuing to bet on the future of office, even after 2020 raised many questions about the desirability of office spaces long-term. In a recent update to its proposal for North Bayshore in Mountain View, Google is hoping to add 1.3 million square feet of office to its original development plans. The City Council approved Google’s request in a unanimous vote at the end March. While Google is far from receiving formal approval, the City Council’s initial support is a promising step in the right direction.

“This allocation of 1.3 million square feet will allow us to make significant, upfront investments that are needed to help transform North Bayshore from a place built around cars to a place built around people,” explained Google’s District Development Director for Mountain View, Michael Timoff. “[These are] investments that will support a complete community across two neighborhoods as contemplated by the precise plan.”

Google’s 122-acre Master Plan will include up to 7,000 residential units, 20 percent of which will be affordable. The target will account for 70 percent of Mountain View’s Precise Plan goal for new housing within the district and will double the number of affordable units in Mountain View overall. 34 acres of public parks and open space, 256,000 square feet of ground floor retail, services and restaurants, a private district utility system and infrastructure have also been laid out in initial plans. 4 acres dedicated to the construction of a new elementary school are also planned. To help with the project, Google has brought on Lendlease as a development advisor. Lendlease will also spearhead the construction of the residential phases of the project.

The City Council’s decision at the end of March gave new clarity as to just how much office space Google would be able to build based on the City’s original 2014 North Bayshore Plan. In 2015, Mountain View officials established a Bonus FAR program that allocated 2.2 million square feet of nonresidential floor area to Bayshore property owners. Of those who applied, the largest allocation was granted to the Gateway area, then owned in part by LinkedIn and SyWest. Under the allocation, the two companies were granted 1.45 million square feet of nonresidential floor area.

Just a year later, Google entered the picture. LinkedIn and Google swapped a number of land holdings, including LinkedIn’s portion of the Gateway site. Google and SyWest worked to develop a Gateway Master Plan under the existing allocation, but came to an impasse. The two companies subsequently submitted requests for Bonus FAR Requalification requests that exceeded the 1.45 million square feet originally allotted. The City denied both requests, and asked the parties to participate in a mediated process, which SyWest subsequently denied. Under a City-led Gateway Master Plan, Google pitched its latest development schemes.

“We haven’t arrived here overnight. Our proposal has been many years in the making,” Timoff stated.

Of the 1.55 million square feet of remaining nonresidential Bonus FAR, Google requested requalification of 1.3 million square feet. In its appeal to the City, Google maintained that its Bonus FAR request would greatly advance Mountain View’s Precise Plan vision. The City Council ultimately concurred. Acting on a recommendation from City Staff, the Mountain View City Council approved Google’s Bonus FAR request.

The approval is subject to a minimum community benefit value of $42 million from Google.

With the nonresidential bonus FAR allocation determined, Google can now submit a formal Master Plan application to the City. The plan will then be brought back to the City Council and EPC at a future plan adoption hearing. With the new allocation in hand, Google will develop up to three million square feet of office.

“This has really been a collaborative effort, getting to this point,” said Timoff. “We greatly appreciate all of the input from staff, from the Council [and] from the community that’s been provided to us over the years. We’ve taken it to heart, and our proposal is better as a result.”

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