Tenants Show Interest in Emeryville’s Greenway Building

By Sharon Simonson

Wareham Development is in discussions with three tenants considering leasing space at its newly unveiled 99,000 square-foot Greenway Building at its EmeryStation Campus in Emeryville.

“One of them that we hope to have here is not in the cluster now,” President Richard K. Robbins said June 19. “It is a multinational research firm that is now largely on the East Coast and in Europe.”

The four-story glass, precast concrete and stone-clad office building is the latest addition to the developer’s 1.5 million-square-foot largely laboratory campus. Like other buildings in the research cluster, Wareham has built the $50 million core and shell on speculation and is now seeking tenants. The triangular building echoes its triangular site and backs up to the Emeryville Greenway, a bike and pedestrian corridor that traverses the entire city.

Wareham links EmeryStation to another one million square feet in west Berkeley known as Aquatic Park Center. Between the two campuses, Wareham has entitlements for up to four million square feet of development, said partner Geoffrey B. Sears. More than a million square feet of the EmeryStation campus is laboratory space, Robbins said. The company hopes to add 250,000 square feet to EmeryStation every three years or less, he said.

EmeryStation is north and west of the campuses for Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Inc. at 4560 Horton St. in Emeryville and Pixar Animation Studios at 1200 Park Ave., also in Emeryville. Both companies are among the city’s largest employers.

Experience has taught Wareham that its tenants need space on demand, Sears said. Because need springs from scientific discovery, the timing by definition is unknown, so having space available to capture demand when it arises makes sense. The Greenway building is much smaller than other speculative lab developments the company has done at EmeryStation in the past, he said, including the 250,000 square-foot EmeryStation East, which is immediately across the street from the new development.

In total, Wareham has 4.5 million square feet of master-planned, multi-tenant mixed-use campuses in Emeryville, Berkeley, Richmond, Marin County and Palo Alto. The company reports 99 percent occupancy in the last three years. It has a long-term commitment to the technology corridor that begins at the foot of the Bay Bridge in Emeryville and travels north up the bay to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

By all accounts, in Emeryville, the San Rafael developer has transformed a formerly polluted and all-but-moribund industrial district into a bustling biotech, life science and green-tech research hub. “For those who haven’t been here, it’s hard to believe what was here before,” Emeryville Vice Mayor Kurt Brinkman said. “What this used to be was a terrible site with lots of chemicals.”

Brinkman said the town of 10,000 is heavily populated with people who use it as an outpost from which they commute to and from San Francisco for work. Fifty-one percent of the households in the city are composed of a single person, he said. With EmeryStation, Emeryville hopes to attract families to town to support its schools and broader community. “The type of people who don’t want to be in traffic and want to be able to bike to work,” he said. “We want the jobs but not the transportation issues.”

He attributed the neighborhood’s radical transformation to Wareham president Robbins’ “tremendous vision.”

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