By Alex Girda, Associate Editor, and Paul Rosta, Senior Editor
More than two weeks after Salesforce.com surprised San Francisco by pulling the plug on its plans to develop a $2 billion campus in Mission Bay, its plans for the property remain unclear. Salesforce had announced its plans with great fanfare in late 2010 after acquiring the 14-acre parcel from Alexandra Real Estate Equities Inc. for $287 million.
In hindsight, Salesforce may have offered a clue that its change of heart was possible in January, when the company announced a $340 million, 400,000-square-foot lease at 50 Fremont Street. Instead of launching construction in Mission Bay, Salesforce now says that it plans to accommodate the expected addition of some 2,000 employees by leasing additional space in San Francisco.
It was the pace of growth that company officials cited last month in putting the project on ice, only days before city planning commissioners were scheduled to vote on the proposal. “It is clear to us that our original Mission Bay strategy may not provide enough space and flexibility for our needs,” the company said in a statement. “This means we are suspending development on our Mission Bay campus and instead focusing on further expansion of our downtown San Francisco campus.” That justification left many observers scratching their heads and speculating that Salesforce was unable to make the numbers pencil out for a massive investment.