The Fremont Planning Commission voted 6 to 1 late Thursday in favor of a proposal to build 11 industrial buildings and two auto dealerships on a now-vacant 153 acres located in the southern portion of the Pacific Commons Planned District. Commissioner Alice Cavette was the sole dissenting vote.
Fremont’s decision to give its green light to the $290.2 million project comes as the demand for and pricing of warehouse and manufacturing space is soaring throughout the Bay Area while the supply of those buildings has fallen short.
Now, the Planning Commission’s recommendation advances to the Fremont City Council, which will vote October 3 on whether to give final approval to the Fremont Technology Business Center industrial complex.
Paving the way for the project, the Planning Commission approved a General Plan Amendment to re-designate 10 acres from the current Tech Industrial to Regional Commercial, which enables them to be used as auto dealership sites.
11 industrial buildings totaling 2,533,000 square feet would be built south of Bunche Drive between Cushing Parkway and Christy Street. The buildings would range in size from 25,000 square feet up to 800,000 square feet.
One 815,000-square-foot industrial building would be built west of Cushing Parkway and south of Bunche Drive. The developer, John Dobrott from Irvine-based Conor Commercial Real Estate, told the commissioners that his company had not officially begun marketing the proposed property yet, but had “well-to-do” companies such as Amazon.com, Apple or Tesla in mind.
Intended land uses for that portion of the development include e-commerce fulfillment, technology-related assembly, advanced manufacturing, research and development and warehouse/distribution.
The plan approved Wednesday includes the construction of two new auto dealerships totaling up to 100,000 square feet. Both are proposed to be located south of Bunche Drive between Pacific Commons Boulevard and Cushing Parkway, extending the existing Fremont Auto Mall.
Due to various economic factors, a city report said, the fully-entitled industrial land that was previously owned by Cisco has remained vacant since Pacific Commons was established in 1996.
The land, located on both sides of Cushing Parkway, was recently sold to two different entities, with Fremont Technology Business Center LLC, an entity associated with Irvine-based Conor Commercial Real Estate, pursuing a new building located west of Cushing Parkway. A second applicant, Pacific Commons Owner LP, an entity associated with Overton Moore, is pursuing a series of industrial buildings and auto dealership sites located east of Cushing Parkway. The city said it processed both requests as one application.
Invesco is also an equity partner in the development. Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Fund, a pension fund in the state of Ohio, stated in a board meeting document that Invesco is planning to develop a manufacturing park in Fremont for $123.3 million. This investment will be made for Invesco’s commingled fund that goes by the name of Invesco Core Real Estate USA. This is a core open-ended commingled fund that does allow for up to 15 percent of the fund to be invested in value-add properties. Through the first quarter of 2017, the commingled fund had a gross asset value of $11.4 billion. Ohio BWC has an investment in the fund valued at $321.3 million.
The developers are working with Irvine-based HPA Architecture on the development plans.
Fremont’s move comes amid tight warehouse vacancy rate throughout Silicon Valley, which registered 4.6 percent the second quarter of 2017, according to statistics from commercial real estate brokers Cushman & Wakefield.
Currently, Fremont contains 40 million square feet of industrial space, which represents 63 percent of all research and development building inventory in the East Bay.