There are many assumptions that come into play when a developer and financial partner decide to construct an office building on spec. For Wilson Meany and Stockbridge Capital, a major one was this: Tech tenants need to see it to believe it.
“Knowing you’ve broken ground, and you’re going to be able to deliver, makes it a lot more real,” said Janice Thacher, principal at Wilson Meany.
To wit: In October, the partners broke ground on Station 4, a 210,000-square-foot building at Bay Meadows, their 80-acre master-planned village in San Mateo. It’s the first — and largest — of five planned office buildings there, located across from the Hillsdale Caltrain station.
Almost from the day, leasing interest perked up. “It was when we broke ground,” Thacher said. “As soon as we did that, we were signaling to the market that it would be delivered.”
The terracotta, glass and aluminum building, designed by HOK, was envisioned to capture tech or biotech tenants with wide 60,000-square-foot floor plates, high ceilings and spitting-distance access to Caltrain.
The market responded, and in August, Palo Alto-based SurveyMonkey announced it would swing into the project, leasing the entire building. One attraction: Future capacity for growth at Bay Meadows, which is getting harder to find elsewhere on the Peninsula.
“Having the ability to manage our growth for years to come was key,” CFO Tim Maly said in August. “That means taking a very sizable space and being confident that there will be more space developed in the longer run, when we hopefully outgrow the space we take.”
It’s a huge vote of confidence for Bay Meadows, the former horse-racing track that Wilson Meany and Stockbridge spent years entitling. The project was difficult because of resistance to density and change. But the success since Bay Meadows got under way shows it’s the right project at the right time.
“It is a high-density, transit-oriented development, and we hope this is a model for future development in the Bay Area,” Maly said.
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