North First Campus Phase 1 Design

Apple has purchased the 43-acre development site at 2347 North First Street in North San Jose’s Golden Tech Triangle which developer Lowe Enterprises had been marketing as a potential 1.8 million square foot North First (‘n1’) campus, designed by Gensler “with tomorrow’s rising companies in mind.”

North First Campus Design

Apple paid a little more than $138 million for the site, which is actually entitled for the development of up to 2.8 million square feet of office space, according to the Business Times. Lowe Enterprises acquired the site for $39 million in December 2010.

The North First Campus site is just across Orchard Parkway from the existing 300,000-square-foot tech campus at 2325 Orchard Parkway, the former headquarters of Atmel Corporation which was remodeled by Ellis Partners as ‘101 Tech’ and leased to Apple last month.

If developed with 2.8 million square feet of office space, the North First campus would be roughly the same size as Apple’s circular ‘iCon’ building rising in Cupertino which will house up to 12,000 employees when finished late next year.

Don’t be surprised if Apple scraps the existing plans for the North First Campus and engages an entirely new design team for the development. In fact, we’d be surprised if they don’t.

91 thoughts on “Apple Buys 43-Acre Campus Site In San Jose”
  1. Its a race, IMO, between San Jose and Oakland as to which will be “the” Bay Area city in 40 years.

    This is a plus for SJ but Oakland, the transportation hub, will eventually win out IMO.

    All Oakland needs is to land the Google expansion rumored for an Oakland site and/or see a Vancouver-like False Creek development and it will cinch the crown.

    This will play out over the next 30 – 40 years. Oakland at a disadvantage with its relatively small population base but with its area and a fair amount of high and medium density development it could easily exceed 1 million residents in a few decades..

      1. There are rumors that a big Silicon Valley company (Goodle, Facebook?) is looking at large blocks of space in Oakland. Making Oakland their North Bay headquarters I guess.

        Plus lots of medium sized companies are moving to Oakland.

        Plus, if the Warriors get shot down in SF, a Coliseum City development with the Raiders/Warriors and A's will be a massive boon for Oakland.

        HSR – the wildcard. I'll leave it at that other than to say what the voters vote the courts can take away.

        Its happening man. It will just take a few decades.

          1. This is up to 2.8 million square feet of tech office space that isn’t going to be in Oakland.

        1. 1) oakland is east bay, not north bay.
          2) what medium sized companies?
          3) the warriors are definitely moving to SF
          4) HSR not going to OAK

        2. So you just have conjecture, not anything to show that anything in Oakland has actually changed? I’ll eat my left hand if Google or Facebook moves their HQ to Oakland (lol).

          I would love to see Oakland prosper, but it’s really impossible without major political change. Oakland is as NIMBY and scared of growth as SF, without nearly as much demand to grow. That doesn’t lead to “taking over as the Bay Area #1” – it just doesn’t.

        1. Apple should be looking much more seriously at acquiring substantial space in SF. But they are so arrogant they think engineers will fall over themselves to live in crummy San Jose just so they can work for Apple. They are a huge corp now, and that Apple-employee-awe is shrinking by the minute. Cook and co should wise up.

          1. Considering that Apple is the largest company in the world by market cap, I think they’ll be ok.

            You, on the other hand, are going to be very, very rich once you short the stock and it collapses.

          2. Dude, who said anything about their success? My comment pertained to the way they treat their employees, and their my way or the highway attitude towards just about everything.

        2. Any numbers on the homebase (Cupertino) and surrounding cities like Sunnyvale, Campbell, Los Altos, and Mountain View?

        3. I think the 14% number comes from a 2013 presentation in support of their new Cupertino HQ project: “Economic and Fiscal Impacts Generated by Apple in Cupertino – Current Facilities and Apple Campus 2.”


          “Apple is the second largest technology employer in Silicon Valley, with approximately 16,000 full-time employees based in the Cupertino area in 2012….

          Apple’s Cupertino-based employees reside throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, with 64% living in communities within Santa Clara County. Key concentrations in the Bay Area include the following cities: San Jose – 25%, San Francisco – 14%, Cupertino – 8%, Sunnyvale – 8%, and Santa Clara – 6.0%”

          The 280 commute from SF to Apple in Cupertino is about the same distance as the commute to this location, but 101 has worse traffic. The commute by car from Park Merced or the new BVHP developments to Apple Cupertino takes about as long as their respective commutes by MUNI/walk to much of SF CBD. This would give Apple major offices on both the southern and eastern edges of the silicon valley CBD and only ~20 minutes apart.

  2. Oh, Lennar has been trying to market its almost 3 million feet of office space in their HP development to hi-tech firms but so far zilch. They are in negotiations with a private K through high school education concern for a chunk of that space as I understand it.

      1. I’ll bet BVHP gets more tech action than Oakland. At least it’s in ess efff. And in a few years it’ll even be considered real SF too. Wheeee 🙂

  3. All you doubters!

    All it would take to start the ball rolling, and maybe some developer has this in their mind already is, hear me out.. ….

    Oakland has far lower office rent rates than SF and has had significantly higher office absorption than SF for a while now. A lot more absorption this last quarter.

    So, the demand is greater there. Oakland needs a signature building. A tech center tower for the Bay Area is how I’d market it.

    The Salesforce tower will be 62 stories I believe.

    Oakland comes up with a proposal for a taller building. 70 sotires or whatever. The tech center.

    It will easily be the tallest in the Bay Area and the West coast for a while. Though I believe there is a proposal for a tower in LA taller than the KAL tower which will be the tallest on the West Coast until and if this 100 plus LA tower is built. Seattle is talking a mega-tower too but that is a ways off.

    Oakland need not go that high (100 stories) and with their office absorption rate and the signature nature of the building.

    Voila! Really, a “minor” thing like this is what will change the whole Bay Area dynamic city-wise and specifically Oakland vs San Jose.

      1. He bought it at the Oakland center for advanced THC studies – a joint (get it) project between Berkeley (consumption analysis) and UC Davis (agricultural production technologies).

      2. No, no.

        Think of the possibilities. A Warriors stadium on the Bay with roof retracting for incredible views, a symphony hall on the Bay. A la Sydney.

        Those things can happen in the Bay Area, but never in SF. Only in Oakland. Not in SJ which is not on the Bay and another thing it has going against it.

        Go to Vancouver if you have not – you will be blown away with what kind of smart, intimate and yet high-density development can be done in a city on the water. And you will maybe understand why I am so critical of SF.

        Again, this won’t, will never happen in SF. SF shooed Lucas away, it turned down the original Mission Bay lagoon proposal (think False Creek), it sent the 49ers packing. The city is a loser in that sense and won’t change.

        And, little secret, the best Bay Area views are from the Oakland Hills south to San Leandro and Fremont. The mid-Peninsula comes in a close second. I have a hi-tech friend couple who just sold their Noe home (w/o a view) for one with views in the Oakland Hills of 3 bridges. You sort of have to crane your neck to see the third bridge (San Mateo) but it is there.

        Oakland/Richmond real estate is the best investment, real estate-wise, you can make in the Bay Area right now. It is set to take off. Well its already taking off. Friend bought a 1 bedroom condo on Howe asking 299K and had to offer just over 400K to get it.

        1. “I have a hi-tech friend couple who just sold their Noe home (w/o a view) for one with views in the Oakland Hills of 3 bridges”

          “Oakland/Richmond real estate is the best investment, real estate-wise, you can make in the Bay Area right now. It is set to take off. Well its already taking off. Friend bought a 1 bedroom condo on Howe asking 299K and had to offer just over 400K to get it.”

          The tipster trap. AKA The friend anecdotes are the plural of data trap. Slightly reminiscent of Pauline Kael and the Nixon election. “I can’t believe SF is still more popular. Al my friends prefer Oakland” etc.

        2. You are completely insane or completely high.

          I support your vision 100%! (And would wager exactly zero dollars that you will be right. I don’t have time to list all the reasons this will never, ever, ever happen)

    1. There is a reason Oakland rents are (and always have been) lower than San Francisco’s – and the same basic rules of economics dictate that it makes no economic sense for a develop to want to build a megatower in Oakland.

    2. Oakland is much more prone to earthquake destruction as it sits on the much more active and dangerous Hayward fault. In ’89 that’s where most of the damage occurred. The next quake will set Oaktown back another 20- 30 years.

      1. I must mention that the 89 quake wasn’t even on the Hayward fault, but the San Andreas, which runs through San Francisco, yet the east bay had most of the damage. Now just think of the destruction of an earthquake actually centered near Oakland on the Hayward fault.

        1. The San Andreas fault doesn’t run through San Francisco (it’s off shore)…and the epicenter was way down in Santa Cruz, so SF and Oakland were about equal distances from it. And I’m pretty sure the East Bay didn’t have “most” of the damage, which was pretty widespread throughout the Bay Area (especially the farther south you go, towards the epicenter, which luckily is less urbanized), with the worst stuff concentrated in certain areas with more unstable ground. I’m also pretty sure that Oakland didn’t have any one neighborhood that sustained damage to the degree of say, the Marina district in SF. The main thing in Oakland was the collapse of the cypress viaduct, which was structurally deficient, and collapsed onto a bunch of motorists, causing the majority of the fatalities in the quake.

          But yeah, when the big one hits the Hayward fault, it’s gonna be bad.

    3. Good lord Dave, do you not understand how you’ve contradicted yourself here?

      “Oakland has far lower office rent rates than SF and has had significantly higher office absorption than SF for a while now. A lot more absorption this last quarter.

      So, the demand is greater there.”

      Selling more of something at a lower price in no way indicates “greater demand”. If Oakland’s absorption rate really is higher, they’ll quickly fill up and rents will rise to match SF’s. It ain’t exactly easy to build a supertall in Oakland (harder than SF? Definitely possible if gentrification started to happen in large amounts).

      1. “Selling more of something at a lower price in no way indicates “greater demand”.”

        That’s exactly what it means! What it doesn’t mean is that Oakland is more desireable than San Francisco.

        1. What? Seriously? Selling more of something at a lower price means that there’s more supply, not that there’s more demand. If we had enough supply to push SF’s prices down to Oakland’s level, we’d undoubtedly see more of them sold in SF, hence greater demand in SF. This is like middle school econ folks.

      2. Good point. Easy to foresee the Oakland Anonymous / Occupy NIMBYs going ballistic if higher density were ever proposed for Oakland, let alone supertalls – would make the 8 Washington fight look genteel by comparison.

  4. I’m sure they will build lots of apartments in San Jose so that the workers won’t have to commute and they all want to live in San Jose anyway. Oh wait, never mind. This will exacerbate house prices more in San Francisco. Right now David Campos is in his underground bunker trying to figure out how to smuggle eighteen grandmothers in wheelchairs onto an Apple Bus for an anti-displacement protest in Cupertino. (I know, harsh but true.)

    Remember when the steel mills built company towns with places for workers to live?

    Outer Sunset houses at $1.5mm before 2017. Safe with nearby surfing.

    [Editor’s Note: As noted above, keep in mind that nearly twice as many of Apple’s Bay Area employees live in San Jose versus San Francisco.]

    1. Amazing how so many experts here have no idea that the South Bay has many, many more engineers than SF. Sure, a certain demographic of engineer wants to live in SF, but that’s not every engineer. And even those will go south if they get married and have kids and don’t earn 500k household, they’ll try to set up a life closer to Apple.

      San Jose is being smart. I bet that 20, 30 years from now the “sophistication gap” between SF and Oakland, San Jose, etc, is far narrower. It will still have the hills, parks, and ocean, however.

      1. Most engineers can’t afford to buy in San Francisco or the Peninsula unless they win the startup lottery.

        1. They can if they have a partner earning six figures and together they earn 300k. That is common enough to drive up prices; it’s not just equity winners. it’s also family money.

          1. Theoretically, you could. But sinking that much of a DINK income into a mortgage is a very precarious position, it drastically reduces employment and family flexibility, creating a ticking time bomb of future stress. Better to live in a less expensive neighborhood.

    2. Great, so where is Apple adding the new San Jose housing being built to support the 3,000 new workers (25% of projected 12K potential workers) there and where is the Apple housing built in San Francisco to accommodate the 1,680 new workers (14% of projected 12K potential workers)?

      1. You may not be aware, but there are thousands, if not tens of thousands of new housing units in downtown SJ within five miles of this new Apple campus.

        1. Sure. Please identify the tens of thousands of new housing units.

          I am sure that San Jose can build more housing than San Francisco. It is quite a feat to come up with a political landscape as toxic as ours. But even with San Jose doing its best, many of these new workers will CHOOSE to live in San Francisco.

          It would be great if Apple and other big companies could conceive of their massive “campuses” as providing (yep) places to -en espanol- dormir. That is, a dormitory.

          Big tech companies love the ecosystem of the valley and workers love the climate and lifestyle. But at some point the demographic impact that these companies have on the communities needs to be addressed in the political sphere.

          Don’t get me wrong. I dabble in real estate and I love having a huge influx of people with money to buy and rent. It’s just the weird “Moratorium in the Mission” protests and bizarre political stances adopted by our elected officials find natural targets in our digital overseers.

          They would do well to incorporate a housing tower in the development of this site.

          1. i don’t really see many sf/sj daily commutes, that’s too radical for any but the most hardcore.

          2. My impression is that people who thrive in Silicon Valley tend to have hard core personalities.

            My son’s pre-school class of 15 kids in the Richmond (neighborhood, in SF) has not one but two Apple parent families, each with over 10 years at the company.

          3. Have you been to downtown San Jose? There are probably a dozen mid range housing towers and more on the way.

            (Granted you may not believe they exist, but hey never let facts get in the way of the narrative)

          4. About four miles north of downtown on First St. there are a similar amount of housing units being built. Not as highrise as in downtown but huge. First and Tasman is going from single story office buildings to eight story mixed buildings really quickly. It could easily overshadow downtown SJ in a couple of decades.

            Closer to Apple’s massive construction project there’s almost no residential being built. A modest four story apartment building is going on on the former orchard at the corner of Stevens Creek and Tantau. Enough to house about 0.03% of Apple’s new HQ occupants.

      2. I believe those employees already exist (and currently live) in SJ and the city. My guess is this site is to consolidate all the employees in the numerous smaller, leased buildings Apple has scattered throughout the valley that won’t fit in either of the two campuses it has in Cupertino.

        From what I can tell, where/when they can, Apple owns its own land and buildings.

        1. Makes sense. After Apple vacates the various smaller buildings, do you think they will remain empty? Of course not, new companies will take that space. New office space in a growing economy will ensure space for more new workers.

          Net new office and commensurate net new housing are the way forward.

          1. @soccermom, If I guessed correctly, I’m sure the vacated offices will fill up over time. Some of the leased spaces have quite a few SF, so I doubt new companies will take them unless the buildings are carved up for multiple, smaller employee bases. Outside of that, I’m not sure what other larger established companies in the valley (or wanting to relocate there) are growing that quickly to need that much new SF.

            But yeah, they’ll eventually fill up…

  5. Where’s the housing for the workers employed there?
    Looks like more reliance on SF for the housing development, no fair-share impact fees I presume are being assessed to the apple corporate developments… sad state of affairs in government….

  6. About 15 minutes (via light rail) to the new Milpitas BART station. I predict big things for San Leandro housing…

  7. Since when is it a race between Oakland and San Jose? How many people are actually involved in this race?

  8. it’s true. oakland is full of crime and murder. you’ll probably get shot if you come over here. all you san Franciscans, please do us oaklanders a favor… stay on your side of the bay. don’t bother visiting or moving to our side. you’re happier in your cold, windy city and we’d prefer you stay there. i hate to speak for the entire Town (but i will), but it’s safe to say that we have no interest in being the “tech capital” of the bay and even less interest in more bland buildings, hipsters, tech bros or yuppies. it’s really dangerous out here, so as long as you can afford it, just stay in SF.

      1. What’s this egregious use of the royal “we.”. ** I ** moved to Oakdeathland last year after 14 years renting in SF. The weather is way, way better. I do have an interest in Oakland becoming a tech center, if not a tech capital. I have had it up to here with humbler than thou sentiment about the character of Oakland.

        It is time to reclaim it after decades of dysfunction and moidah.

  9. San Jose is building a lot of multi family housing at the moment. Santa Clara county had the largest number of building permits issued in the bay area in 2014.

  10. Actually, this is Big News for Oakland.

    The site is about 3 miles from the soon-to-open Milpitas BART, which can easily be served by a circulator shuttle or bike ride. Milpitas will be a 40-50 minute ride from most of Oakland. That will add up to less than the typical SF-to-Cupertino commuter bus ride.

    Rather than destructive competition, people should realize the symbiotic potential of Oakland and San Jose, now joined together with frequent and scenic above-ground BART service (without a failure-prone Transbay tube or Caltrain frequency/capacity limitations)

    1. Exactly. Oakland is on the cusp of great things. For lots of reasons, including transportation ease from the various job bases, Oakland inevitably will become the hub of the Bay Area nexus.

  11. The Smug is strong in this thread.

    For every person who can’t imagine living anywhere but the city there are four who can’t imagine living IN the city.

    EBGuy is on the right track and thinking like a speculator.

    1. Bought this crib in Fruitvale a year ago, valuation up 10% YOY – and thats in an outright crappy neighb. Doubt it’ll remain crappy for long at this rate.

      1. Yeah but just because parts of Oakland are increasing in value doesn’t mean SF ain’t increasing either. In good economy, win-win. In bad economy, let’s hope Oakland doesn’t loose as much value as it did last recession, while most of SF dropped much less. Dats da question.

        1. Of course you are correct, Otown housing prices will probably undergo a disproportionately severe decline in a downturn. I.e. 2x (or more) percentage-wise, compared to SF.

          Unless/until there is SUCH a huge demographic change that >75% or more of Oakland (by both area & percent of housing units) becomes middle-class or better. I’m doing my part down here in the Vale.

          1. Please don’t call it the vale. It’s worse than Frisco. This isn’t Game of Thrones. 😛

    1. @B, it’s my understanding that those renderings were from the previous developer who was marketing the property. I’m sure Apple will move forward with their own designs. My guess is that whatever Apple builds, it will be a take on their Campus 2, Phase 2 designs.

  12. 5 parking garages
    0 Housing Units

    who is responsible in the mac organization, or the city for that matter, for any semblance of reality in the design of their campuses?

    This is why LEED certification, and Green Building design are a perpetual joke……

  13. Jeez, the amount of snark and jealously in this thread is insane. Don’t worry peeps, San Jose isn’t going to usurp the “Alpha Minus Global City” ranking for SF anytime soon, so relax. Can you possibly imagine that there are large subsets of the population that prefer the relative peace and quiet of suburbia and it’s accompanying “boring” culture? Did you know that not all of Apple’s workforce consists of 20-something hoodie wearing techies who live in the mission eating $5 toast and drinking $8 pour over coffee? In fact, I’m told a significant number of tech workers care more about quality schools, space for their family, and low crime rate. Certainly San Jose doesn’t have anti-urine walls and there’s a big population of people living in a van down by the river, but hey, everything city has to have a little bit of “culture” right?

    1. Santa Clara County has 62 times the land area of SF. To do their part, they need to be building at least 10-15 times as much as SF, which means thousands and thousands of 4-8 story projects or hundreds of highrises. They’re doing basically nothing right now, piddly developments in Milpitas aside.

  14. Set the Wayback Machine for DotCom 1.0. This plot is just north of the the old HQ for BEA Systems. And just south of there is where Eric Schmidt held court in his first gig as CEO.

    1. Hah. I remember meeting at that BEA HQ in 1999 for a sales pitch on one of their internet middleware components that we were considering to integrate into our DC1.0 product. The salesman made sense and we needed that particular piece of functionality. But we didn’t get the funding required to purchase lavish pieces of SW. So BEA, Oracle, and a bunch of other providers lost out on our business as we ended up coding our own solutions cobbled together with openSource stuff. Over the next three years our well funded competitors dropped like flies, hobbled by the weight of their 3rd party licensing commitments.

  15. SF, San Jose, and Oakland will all do well, as there is great demand in a variety of sectors. If people start thinking “San Francisco Bay Area” instead of your own city located in that region, we can help one another. It’s time to take the broader view.

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