South San Francisco officials advocated a plan that would allow Genentech to nearly double the size of its sprawling campus, paving the way for more than 4 million square feet of further commercial development.
The South San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously recommended that council members agree to allow the crown jewel of the city’s biotech hub to significantly expand its headquarters along Oyster Point during a meeting on Thursday, October 15.
Given the plan that will ultimately have to be adopted by the South San Francisco City Council, this is testament to the company’s commitment to the community it has been in for decades. Officials praised the ambitious vision.
“I think this master plan framework will be great for the city,” said Commissioner Robert Bernardo. “It will be a great blueprint for the future.”
The revised master plan document aims to allow up to 9 million square feet of construction space on the 207-acre site along Oyster Point, which is essentially the same as the approximately 5 million-square-foot facilities currently on the 207-acre property.
The proposal presented last year continues an update process launched in 2017 – the latest in a series of revisions to the campus plan, first established in 1995. It was originally updated in 2007 when a development cap of 6 million square feet was set. In 2013 the plan was changed to make way for a 27 acre development.
Earlier discussions suggested that the latest update could accommodate 12,000 additional employees, which would mean more than double the 10,000 employees currently on the premises. However, company officials have noted that the estimate is based on a formula that assumes Genentech is creating as much as possible under the plan, and officials are not yet required to set a development plan.
If the council members approve the master plan, individual new projects or additional construction phases are proposed and reviewed as part of the public standard examination process.
In return for the officials who blessed the master plan, Genentech offered a number of community benefits through a lucrative development agreement.
Under a 15-year contract, Genentech offered South San Francisco $ 30 million for affordable housing and $ 15 million for transportation initiatives. In addition, the company would support the development of residential buildings east of Highway 101 while advocating the establishment of a parish in the area.
Biotech companies that populate the Bayshore have traditionally spoken out against building homes near their business premises. Commissioner Michele Evans expressed her appreciation for the company’s rethinking of its position on the matter.
“This has not been a good source of discussion in the past,” she said, pledging to hold Genentech accountable for its promise.
Genentech also promised to limit vehicle journeys to campus while creating new open spaces along the Bay Trail and investing heavily in public art.
Commission chairman Alan Wong admired Genentech’s partnership with the city and hoped the relationship could serve as a blueprint for other life science companies.
“I think they were not only a great partner to the city, but also a good role model for other biotech companies in the region,” he said.
Commissioner Norm Faria agreed and praised the thoughtful expansion plan proposed by a leader from the thriving local industry.
“They think about the community, they think about their growth and that’s something that is easy to support,” he said.