By Julian J. Ramos, firstname.lastname@example.org
FREMONT — In rezoning more than half of Ardenwood Technology Park, the Fremont City Council hopes to pave the way for an influx of high-tech businesses that potentially could create more than 7,500 new jobs.
The council’s June 21 decision to rezone 30-plus parcels totaling 150 acres allows Ardenwood to evolve from a lower density 1980s and 1990s industrial park into a 21st-century business park that can accommodate modern corporate campuses similar to those built recently in Cupertino, Menlo Park, Mountain View and elsewhere in the Bay Area.
Fremont’s deputy director of economic development, Christina Briggs, said the park historically has been home to biotech and biomedical companies, but the list of tenants has grown and diversified in the last couple of years with Silicon Valley clean technology companies, such as electric vehicle maker Atieva, moving in.
With office space on the Peninsula limited and companies looking to spread their footprint in the region, the rezoning at Ardenwood Technology Park is meant to position the site for growth, Briggs said.
“We’re setting it up for success up there,” she said.
Current tenants at the park include monitoring device maker LifeScan, LED manufacturer Soraa and German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim. Palo Alto-based developer Peery Arrillaga is the largest property owner at Ardenwood Technology Park.
“This is a major employment center now, and it can be even more in the future,” Mayor Bill Harrison said, adding that he expects the rezoning will bring more jobs to the area and bolster the city’s tax base.
At the moment, no specific projects are proposed for the park, Fremont Planning Manager Kristie Wheeler said.
The rezoning establishes three subareas within 32 parcels:
- Area 1, or the “gateway parcels,” consists of the five parcels along Campus Court adjacent to state Route 84 and Paseo Padre Parkway.
- Area 2, or the “edge parcels,” consists of 10 parcels along Dumbarton Circle, backing up to state Route 84, and Campus Drive, backing up to Paseo Padre Parkway.
- Area 3, or the “central parcels,” consists of the remaining 17 parcels along Dumbarton Circle, Campus Drive and Kaiser Drive.
Allowed land uses include corporate/professional, administrative, research and development offices and advanced manufacturing, as well as small-scale retail and service uses such as restaurants, delis, health clubs, banks and small retail establishments. In Area 1, the maximum height of buildings allowed would increase 40 feet, from 75 feet to 115 feet, and a full-service hotel would be permitted.
The maximum allowable floor area on the rezoned property could increase by 1.7 million square feet to 4 million square feet.
“This could potentially result in the creation of more than 7,500 new jobs for the city,” said Steve Kowalski, Fremont associate planner.
Vice Mayor Lily Mei said she sees a need for small retail businesses, such as a dry cleaner or a coffee shop, to service workers at the park. She also favored the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lots.
The environmental impact report for the rezoning identifies several “significant and unavoidable impacts” that could result, such as increased air pollution and traffic.
Councilman Vinnie Bacon said although he is concerned about more traffic, the potential for economic development is “very significant for Fremont.”
Formal adoption of the new zoning could take place at the council’s July 12 meeting.