Modernizing Silicon Valley

2051 Rendering - Entry FINAL

Washington Holdings starts rejuvenating a Santa Clara business park for the 21st century.


By Robert Carlsen

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen business parks sprung up on the outskirts of urban centers during the post-World War II economic boom, the initial plan was to keep employees fully concentrated on work without outside distractions. But business parks are now evolving into something quite different—as Washington Holdings’ new plans for an upgraded, modern business park in Santa Clara demonstrates.

The Seattle-based real estate investment firm took over the 46-acre Mission Park business campus, located off Montague Expressway near Highway 101, in October 2013 and established in-house management last year. The park was built in the late 1970s and early 1980s and includes 19 buildings comprising 700,000 square feet. Tenants include Internap, Tektronix, Green Charge Networks and Silego Technology.

Mission Park features three segments, including six industrial buildings at the business center; a two-story office building at the executive center; and 12 R&D buildings.

[quote]“One of the more interesting dynamics of this type of product is that more than 20 million square feet of it has been demolished in Silicon Valley.” Rosanna Davidson-McMahon, an assistant vice president of Washington Holdings in Santa Clara[/quote]

The property’s three-phase renovation project involves seven buildings that will receive façade improvements, interior market-ready work, exterior landscape renovations and new outdoor amenity areas designed by Studio G Architects of Campbell and Boulder, Colo.-based HMH Architecture + Interiors.

The campus master plan calls for converting the traditional business campus into a more park-like setting. Renovations will include pedestrian walkway improvements, park entry and streetscape upgrades and development site design for a multibuilding retail area and hotel designed by San Francisco firms BCV Architects and Smith + Smith Landscape Architects.

Any buildings not receiving major façade improvements will be tied into the overall modernization by receiving exterior paint and new landscaping and monument signage, said Rosanna Davidson-McMahon, an assistant vice president of Washington Holdings, who is based in the Santa Clara business park.

“We are very fortunate to have a campus-like setting with mature trees and a graciousness of space that exists as our blank canvas,” Davidson-McMahon said. “The plan is to layer in updated architecture, walkways, landscape, more trees and an amenity-rich environment that is walkable for our tenants.”

Brent Lower, an executive vice president based in Washington Holdings’ Seattle office, said that the firm sees a place for older, one-story R&D product such as the Mission Park buildings if they are renovated and repositioned to a level that “meets current market demand.”

“Of course, a desirable location with respect to transportation, access and exposure are critical,” Lower said. “With these improvements, these properties can not only continue to attract R&D users but are also attractive to Web 2.0 users that are typically more of a pure office user.

“One of the more interesting dynamics of this type of product is that more than 20 million square feet of it has been demolished in Silicon Valley in the past five years to make way for the development of higher-density Class A office and apartment projects. As such, the supply has decreased substantially while the demand has increased,” Lower said.

Lower also explained how Washington Holdings has recently closed on at least one other similar product in the region and is looking for more opportunities. He said that though these projects are the firm’s first equity plays in the Bay Area, the company has been active as a lender in the region, including providing funding for some of Jay Paul Co.’s Moffett Park projects.

According to Davidson-McMahon, phase one of building renovations and walkway and landscape improvements will be completed in June, phase two building and landscape improvements are scheduled for year-end, and a “phase two-A” project involving one building on the northeast corner of the park will be completed in June 2016. If all goes as planned with the entitlement process, phase three’s hotel and retail construction also will break ground in June 2016.

Green elements of the renovation project include drought-tolerant landscaping and drip irrigation that are replacing turf in several areas, LED lighting, recycled finishes and low-flow plumbing fixtures.

“We are also using as much clear glass as possible, versus heavily tinted, in order to allow as much natural light as possible in the spaces without compromising energy efficiency,” Davidson-McMahon said.

The seven private outdoor amenity areas range in size from 2,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet and feature tables and chairs, lawns, new trees and landscaping.

When the renovations and development are complete, Davidson-McMahon said Mission Park will be able to “offer what tenants in today’s market are looking for—functional interiors, walkable amenities, outdoor recreation areas and an extended walkable campus that allows one to get up and walk, run or bike to reduce stress and rejuvenate the thought process throughout the day.”

West Coast Commercial Real Estate News