Top 5 Bay Area Submarkets for Office Construction

Tech giants are still developing the nation’s most innovative office projects across this region.

Year-to-date through September, 139.1 million square feet of new office supply was under construction nationwide, according to the latest CommercialEdge national office report. Office starts are still significantly below pre-COVID-19 levels and gateway cities have been affected most by the pandemic’s aftermath. San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Chicago have been slow to add new office product to their development pipelines, as opposed to Sun Belt markets, which continue to outperform all other regions.

In September, the Bay Area (East and South Bay), driven by the market’s thriving tech and life science hubs, had 10.3 million square feet of office space under construction—the third largest pipeline in the country after Manhattan and Boston—while 7.9 million square feet of office space taking shape within the San Francisco Peninsula market.

Between January and September, six properties amounting to 1.9 million square feet of office space were delivered in the Bay Area, while 3.2 million square feet of office supply came online in San Francisco. Almost 100 percent of these properties are Class A product, reflecting the area’s strong demand for high-quality workspace. Here are the top Bay Area submarkets for office construction, based on CommercialEdge data.

5. Emeryville

Situated on the East Bay between Berkeley and Oakland, Emeryville is the home of Pixar Animation Studios, along with several well-known tech companies. As of September, the Emeryville submarket had 867,572 rentable square feet of office space under construction across five office properties. Out of the five, four are life science facilities—echoing ongoing trends within the submarket.

Emeryville Center of Innovation. Image courtesy of BioMed Realty

BioMed Realty is behind the largest life science project in the making within the Emeryville submarket. In April 2021, the company received approval for the expansion of its Emeryville Center of Innovation campus. At that point, the campus consisted of a 303.000-square-foot research building, fully leased to Zymergen Inc. Four new lab/office buildings totaling 950,000 square feet are planned for the extension, with the first phase, comprising 281,000 square feet, already under construction.

4. Mountain View – Shoreline

An integral part of Silicon Valley’s early history, the city of Mountain View houses the headquarters of numerous large tech companies, including Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn and Samsung. As of September, the Mountain View – Shoreline submarket in Santa Clara County had 994,810 rentable square feet of office space in the making.

Google is wrapping up construction on its Google Charleston East building within the company’s first ground-up campus dubbed Bay View. Designed by two of the most revolutionary architecture studios, Bjarke Ingels Group and Heatherwick Studios, the 595,000-square-foot project will house roughly 3,000 employees. The canopy-covered, 111-foot tent-like structure will aim for LEED Platinum certification.

3. Sunnyvale – North

Google Caribbean. Image courtesy of the City of Sunnyvale

Part of the Santa Clara Valley, Sunnyvale represents the birthplace of the video industry. Some of the biggest tech players have offices in the city, with the area’s largest employers including Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and LinkedIn. In September, 1.3 million square feet of rentable office space was under construction within the Sunnyvale – North submarket.

Google is currently developing a two-building, 40.5-acre office campus in the Sunnyvale – North area, to total more than 1 million square feet. The City Council approved the project known as Google Caribbean in 2020 and construction broke ground the following year. Bjarke Ingels Group is also behind the ziggarut-like architecture of the buildings.

2. San Jose – CBD

With a significant jump from the previous entries in terms of under-construction pipeline, the San Jose – CBD submarket saw 2,972,330 square feet of office space in the making, as of September. As the cultural and financial center of Silicon Valley, San Jose is the most populous city in the Bay Area and the third most populous city in the state. One of the wealthiest cities in the world, San Jose has the third highest GDP per capita—as well as the fifth-most expensive housing market—on the planet.

Park Habitat. Rendering courtesy of Westbank

The two largest office developments currently taking shape in San Jose’s CBD are both rising along Park Avenue. Located at 180 Park Ave., Westbank’s Park Habitat project will create 1.3 million square feet of office, museum and retail space. Designed by world-renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the mixed-use building is set to become one of the first net zero carbon workspaces in the country. Construction officially broke ground in April, with planned completion in 2025.

1. South San Francisco

As of September, South San Francisco had the largest under-construction stock across the Peninsula and Bay Area submarkets, reaching 2,982,010 square feet, according to CommercialEdge data. The city has one of the nation’s largest life science hubs. Last year, a total of three office properties amounting to nearly 1.2 million square feet came online in the area.

Kilroy Oyster Point. Rendering courtesy of Kilroy Realty

In June 2021, Kilroy Realty Corp. broke ground on the second phase of Kilroy Oyster Point, a 50-acre, 3 million-square-foot life science and office megadevelopment. The first stage of the waterfront project, totaling 656,000 square feet, was completed last year. The second phase dubbed Gravitate will create 860,000 square feet of lab and office space, across three separate buildings. The seven- and eight-story ensemble will target LEED Gold certification.

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