San Leandro to open new Tech Campus

Michele Dennis

Michele Dennis,

A crowd of nearly 900 people gathered to watch the inaugural lighting of a 55-foot tall polished steel skin female sculpture known as “Truth is Beauty” in celebration of the grand opening of the San Leandro Technology Campus on Oct. 18. Hundreds of people held candles as the statue’s 2,500 LED lights began to glow, softly illuminating the Tech Campus courtyard.

The statue is representative of the movement to encourage women to become more involved in the technology industry, said Gaye Quinn who works for Westlake Urban, a property management and development organization in the Bay Area and one of many, including the city itself, responsible for bringing “her” here. The “Truth is Beauty” statue was first introduced at Burning Man Festival four years ago.

San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter said at the event that the statue, whose bare female form gestures to the heavens, represents not only the new campus, which opens this fall, but the transformation this city envisions for the future.

The Tech Campus is located on the west side of the downtown San Leandro BART station and is one of several new projects underway in the city, including a nearly completed 200-unit affordable housing project right across from the BART station. A newly renovated promenade now connects BART and the city’s downtown plaza and features art installations and new restaurants. Other recent additions to the city like Drake’s Brewery and Ghiradelli Chocolate have breathed new life into this quiet community. The campus and its new sculpture are the latest in an infusion of new businesses to San Leandro.

OSISoft, a global industrial data analysis organization headquartered in San Leandro since 1980, partnered with Westlake Urban to design and build the campus, which will be implemented in three phases at a total cost of $200 million, according to Patrick Kennedy, CEO of OSISoft. “We have letters of intent for potential leasing contracts from several businesses for the new buildings,” he said. “We anticipate we’ll have no problem filling them.”

To attract new businesses to the San Leandro campus, the SLTC offers a 10 gigabytes per second fiber network that the New York Times reported to be the fastest broadband speed in the nation, and office space at approx $4 per square foot, less than half the cost of similar space in Silicon Valley, according to Kennedy.

Kennedy invested his own money to connect San Leandro with fiber. In 2010 he approached the city about leasing their existing underground lines so he could install a fiber network loop in exchange for 10 percent of the system for the city’s use. He spent $3 million to install the fiber pull which initially covered an 11 square mile area in the city and to start LITSan Leandro, the company that manages the fiber line’s business.

An additional $2.1 million federal grant from the Economic Development Administration enabled the city to add nine additional miles of conduit to the system, increasing the system to 20 miles, according to Jill Battenberg, San Leandro’s business development manager.

The loop, which now serves over 250 businesses, provides what Kennedy calls “an open fiber network” that serves the commercial industrial area in San Leandro. Fiber allows companies within the loop like those at the incubator complex The Gate, an art and tech community situated on a 24-acre property in Silicon Valley, to connect networks and multiple buildings together. It has been expanded to include the San Leandro School District and the San Leandro Main Library.  

The San Leandro Tech Campus has been in development for nearly ten years. The first phase of the project is nearly done and will be open by the end of the year. Its 134,000 square-foot, six-story building will be occupied by OSISoft.

Its second building is underway and will be about the same size; the third will be slightly smaller. One multi-tiered parking lot is complete and open, and an additional parking structure will be added with phase three. Westlake Urban is processing entitlements to build an additional 200 living units.

As for the inaugural sculpture, Kennedy said it’s intended to make a strong statement about art and the human spirit. “We have to look around us and enjoy what we have here,” he said. “The world is not just about bits and bytes.”