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Coronavirus real estate: Developers eye Lawrence Station as tech offices for COVID era

Coronavirus real estate: Developers eye Lawrence Station as
tech offices for COVID era 1

SANTA CLARA — A modern tech complex under construction in Santa Clara is being developed with an array of features that are designed to produce new offices compatible with the coronavirus era.

The five-story office building is expected to sprout by year’s end at 3655 Kifer Road next to Lawrence Expressway in Santa Clara when it is complete, according to project developer Bayview Development Group.

The brand-new office project is being marketed to prospective tenants as a “Post-COVID 19 workplace,” according to a marketing brochure being circulated by San Jose-based Cushman & Wakefield brokers Gregory Davies, Brandon Bain, Greg Bennette, and Erik Hallgrimson.

“Lawrence Station is designed with flexible workspaces and to accommodate social distancing,” said Ted McMahon, chief investment officer with Bayview Development.

The whole idea is to ensure that the office building’s design wards off too much crowding.

“We are trying to avoid bottlenecks,” McMahon said. “The design encourages single directions of travel. We will have stairwells with lights to indicate an up stairwell in the morning and a down stairwell in the afternoon.”

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RMW Architecture & Interiors designed the new office building, which will total roughly 173,000 square feet and will be located a short distance from the Lawrence Station Caltrain stop in Sunnyvale.

“Silicon Valley has always been recognized as one of the most innovative places in the world, and Lawrence Station is exemplary of that innovation,” said Davies, a senior director with Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate firm.

Before the coronavirus erupted around the globe, modern office buildings in the Bay Area were typically designed at a spacing ratio of one employee for every 150 square feet to 200 square feet. That means a building 173,000 square feet pre-COVID could contain 865 workers to 1,155 workers.

The RMW Architecture design envisions spacing guidelines in Lawrence Station that are more in the range of about one worker for every 200 square feet to one per 225 square feet. That results in about 770 to 865 workers inside a building of the size and design of Lawrence Station.

“People are going to be fairly well spaced out,” McMahon said.

The building will also be able to accommodate stations to scan temperatures for people entering the facility if those are desired by a future tenant.

Bathrooms are designed to be gender-neutral and will allow people options to exit or enter by different doorways.

The “expedient redesign and implementation at Lawrence Station” by Bayview Development and RMW Architecture “has launched the project to the forefront in helping provide a safer work solution,” Davies said.

Although this building will have a new kind of design, the rents are still expected to be attractive for tenants, especially if a company factors in the importance of being able to assure employees of a safe workplace amid coronavirus-linked fears.

“The cost of rent will look like a good value relative to the expense of not being able to bring people back into the workplace in a timely fashion,” McMahon said. “You want people to be comfortable in their work environment.”

Office tenants are becoming more interested in Lawrence Station and other Silicon Valley office projects as companies become more confident that employees can be more readily protected from the coronavirus, McMahon believes.

“We had zero interest in the building from March to June,” McMahon said. “Then around late July and early August, we started to see a pretty significant uptick in tours and interest. There are some real tenant requirements out in the market right now. These indicators have me hopeful.”

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