By Meghan Hall
A two-building office property currently serving as the headquarters for commercial general contractor Iron Construction is hitting the market. 1955-1961 The Alameda, which spans two buildings and totals 17,950 square feet, could fetch about $16.5 million according Claudia Folzman, chief operating officer at Iron Construction.
The larger office portion of the property was constructed in 1955 for IBM and totals 15,492 square feet. In the 1960s the building, along with a 2,458 square foot historic house, was gifted to Santa Clara University. Iron Construction purchased the two buildings in an off-market deal, from SCU in 2016 for about $3.45 million.
“We were approached to buy the building, and we jumped at it,” explained Folzman. At the time, Iron Construction’s headquarters was located in Sunnyvale and the firm was looking to move. “[The Sunnyvale location] was a fantastic building, very innovative, really fun, but it just violated a big rule for us which is location, location, location!”
After acquiring The Alameda property, Iron Construction worked to completely renovate the office building between 2016 and 2017. According to Iron Construction’s website, the project budget was about $3 million and ultimately converted the two-story facility in to a Class A office space. Some of the renovations include a pyramid-shaped skylight, new LED lighting, and conference and training rooms. In the renovation, Iron Construction also utilized recycled materials from demolition such as re-purposed ceiling joists as stair treads and I-beams for architectural metal work. Custom concrete stonework also completes the modern look. Employee amenities include a chef’s kitchen, collaboration areas, gym and showers outdoor lounge and urban gardens.
“That building is amazing,” said Folzman. “Early on when Dave [Edgar] and I started developing our company and growing into new spaces, we always wanted to make it a very comfortable place to work. We were not interested in the plain vanilla envelope that a lot of offices ended up being. We always try to make it really fun and innovative.”
“It’s just got a very good vibe,” Folzman added.
Iron Construction, founded in 2001, has completed more than 2,300 projects across the Bay Area in a variety of sectors, including life sciences, manufacturing and commercial interiors. The firm has worked on offices for Roche in San Jose, the Law Offices of Boles Schiller Flexner LLP in Palo Alto and Deibel Laboratories in South San Francisco, among others.
The firm is choosing to sell its headquarters at time when the construction industry is facing numerous challenges. However, Iron Construction, said Folzman, is choosing to sell its headquarters simply because the firm is keen to take on another challenge and office revamp.
Cushman and Wakefield Director Dave Schley, Senior Director Kent Hillhouse and Vice Chairman Erik Hallgrimson have been selected to market the property for sale.
The decision to sell the property, stated Folzman, is not new—in fact, the company had been thinking about moving on for a couple of years. And while things for many have slowed down as a result of COVID-19, Folzman and Iron Construction are not worried about the timing.
“Everybody is questioning the timing,” said Folzman. “We had been talking for a while about doing another development, and we really, really enjoy doing that. It brings a lot of value to the properties that we acquire. [The Alameda building] is so unique and one of a kind, that we’re not really worried about the ‘COVID-19 discount’ that we’ve been hearing about a little bit in the commercial real estate community. We’re not interested in a fire sale. It will sell when it sells. So, we’re not in a hurry in that regard.”
Iron Construction has already set its sights on a new office and while the company is excited, it was not quite ready to release the details.
“Sometimes when you’ve been in business for a while, you need to set yourself a challenge,” said Folzman. “I’m just really excited to do a little bit more development…It’s been really fun. We’ll see where it takes us.”