Few things conjure images of extreme excitement and fan devotion as football, and especially the Super Bowl. For cities that play home to National Football League franchises, they are gifts that keep on giving and giving. It is precisely the reason why Silicon Valley’s Fifteenth Annual Trends 2014 Real Estate Forecast, hosted by Colliers International on Wednesday in San Jose, made the new San Francisco 49ers Levi’s stadium in Santa Clara—home to the league’s fiftieth annual Big Game in 2016—the centerpiece of its commercial real estate panel.[contextly_sidebar id=”1438650933e6ff26dbb3a3c9fa203c9d”]Jonathan Harvey, the Turner-Devcon project director of the 21-acre Levi’s stadium site, says the field will be ready for play on August 2, just 5 months away, when the San Jose Earthquakes will host their first soccer match there. The field itself is well underway and nearly ready to sod. The US Golf Association sand-based natural turf has been growing for the last year in Livingston, Calif., and the sod will be brought to the job site shortly. Since the project broke ground in late April 2012, the Devcon-Turner team has been busy preparing the 68,991 seat LEED Gold-certified stadium for its fall 2014 debut.
The city of Santa Clara has had a relationship with the San Francisco 49ers that started back in the mid ’80s. The professional football team decided to build a training facility in the Silicon Valley city when little else surrounded the site. But it wasn’t until 2006 that the 49ers made their intent to move to the South Bay official. The ambitious extraction from San Francisco became real in 2010 when the City of Santa Clara won voter approval to move the project forward, according to Lisa Gillmor, a three-time Santa Clara City Council member and former Vice Mayor, who moderated the panel.
But the stadium, which according to Harvey is going to include groundbreaking and secretive technology—he was unable to provide any detail except to say that it is unlike anything that has been seen at another football stadium—represents just the stage for the rest of the play. Across the street, just north of the Levi’s stadium, two prominent developers have their sights set on something much bigger.
The Centennial Gateway is a 620,000 square foot mixed use project that will include a 200-room, 4-star hotel balanced by a Class A office structure and 100,000 square feet of retail space.
“We’re really looking to create a place that has an 18-6 environment, if not 24-7,” says Hanns Lee, senior vice president and Northern California head of Los Angeles-based Lowe Enterprises, the developer of the project. “It is embracing the notion that this is an entertainment district that was, of course, first established by Great America and now modernized with the NFL stadium.”
The feel is going to be urban. The goal is to create a high density and urban environment that harvests the energy that has been established by the stadium.
“And our project will embrace the stadium itself,” he adds.
William “Bill” Witte, president of Related California, an Irvine-based West Coast arm of Related Companies based in New York is also developing a similar, albeit a much larger, mixed-use project. The 230 acre site next to the Lowe development is currently a golf course owned by the City of Santa Clara. While the site has a number of environmental challenges associated with it, Witte’s immediate thought on the opportunity was, “How often do you get to develop 230 acres in the Bay Area or Silicon Valley?”
The development will feature a large, 89-acre section called City Center that will combine a lot of the same entertainment, food and beverage options as Lowe’s project right next door. But, the goal is really to create a central gathering place – one that has scale, location, synergy, and serves all age groups, from families to singles. “The whole can be greater than the sum of [its] parts,” says Witte. The comprehensive plan includes housing, primary and secondary retail locations and lots of options for all ages and life stages.
The panel beamed with excitement and had optimism to spare. But then again, the panel consisted of developers and city management people who are making the whole thing possible; it is hard to imagine it otherwise.
Yet, it is hard to ignore the resurgence of the Bay Area, and Silicon Valley in particular. Everyone seems to be gravitating to the region from the rest of the country. The NFL is in agreement, as well, which is precisely why they awarded the little Silicon Valley city its greatest show.
Photo courtesy of Colliers International