By Jacob Bourne
The Sobrato Organization has submitted a Master Plan to the City of Fremont for its Warm Springs Technology Center to be located on a 21.5-acre parcel bounded by Warm Springs Boulevard, Corporate Way, Reliance Way and Research Avenue. The proposal is for five LEED Gold certified commercial buildings zoned as Innovation District, a mere 0.5 miles from the new Warm Springs BART station that’s nearing completion expected early this year. The project is a key component of the Warm Springs/South Fremont Community Plan adopted in 2014, which envisions the neighborhood as becoming one the Bay Area’s major innovative job centers.
“It’s already a major employment area thanks to Tesla and other companies,” explained Kelly Kline, Fremont economic development director. “With properties by Sobrato and Lennar, we have an opportunity to add many more jobs.” Construction on Lennar’s nearby mixed-use residential project is starting this spring.
Kline estimates that a total of 40,000 jobs will be located in close proximity the new BART station once the projects in the pipeline are completed. The new transit option is a key part of the plan for the area as it will create an important link, once constructed, between San Francisco, other East Bay stations and San Jose, which could bring an additional 1.5 million commuters traveling both north and south along the corridor. Along with Oakland, the Warm Springs station represents a transit hub with strong connectivity to employment — a rarity East of the Bay where most BART stations are predominantly located near housing.
According to David Wage, associate planner, the Master Plan is midway through the Planning Department’s review process. He’ll be meeting with the development team later this week to discuss making some, “Minor, not substantive, technical changes to the plans.” Following a CEQA-related analysis that’s going on concurrently, Wage expects the project to go before Planning Commission and City Council hearings for consideration within the next three months.
The current Master Plan iteration outlines a project consisting of five buildings totaling 685,000 square feet of which about 570,000 square feet would be devoted to offices and the remaining 110,000 square feet for hi-tech manufacturing uses. Leased floor plates can be divided into 142,150 square foot sections. The five buildings, divided into three zones to be delivered in three construction phases, partially surround a large parking structure that’s also equipped with amenity spaces such as a fitness center. Zone 1 consists of two office buildings with the most visible frontage along Warm Springs Boulevard, while Zone 2 offers another two buildings geared for office use along Reliance and Corporate Way. Zone 3 contains the single story industrial building that may reach 44 feet in height.
A robust open space framework connects the development to the surrounding area via community gateways that provide access to bike, pedestrian and transit routes. The public open space segment features art installations and terraced landscaping. Private open space areas are equipped with outdoor seating for meetings and dining, exterior kitchens and other spaces that foster interaction.
Chase Lyman, Sobrato’s vice president of leasing and acquisitions, stated that the revised Master Plan will be submitted by the end of the week. Though the current plan describes the fifth building as industrial, he explained that it will actually be a flex space to be used as either office or manufacturing depending on the tenant. No space has been pre-leased, but Lyman said that he’s already heard from interested potential tenants with positive feedback about the design. Arc Tec and TGP Inc. have also been involved in the planning process.
“We’re excited about having this project in the Warm Springs area of Fremont,” said Lyman. “It has a great school district and a lot of housing on the way. BART is right across the street. At close to 700,000 square feet it’s hard to find that amount of space in a place that’s transit oriented.”
“It effectively incorporates the spirit of the Warm Springs Plan,” Kline remarked. “It offers a nice welcoming presence from the street plus amenities to appeal to future companies who want to locate there.”