Plans to nearly double the Genentech campus are positioned to take a step forward when South San Francisco officials review a master vision for the biotech titan’s headquarters next week.
The South San Francisco Planning Commission is expected to review the proposed campus master plan update Thursday, Oct. 15, and could recommend approval from the City Council during a planned meeting in December.
The revised master plan document aims to allow for up to 9 million square feet of construction throughout the 207-acre site along Oyster Point, up substantially from the roughly 5 million square feet of facilities currently occupying the property.
Allen Napetian, vice president and head of site services at Genentech, said the plan illustrates the company’s commitment to growing and staying in the city where it has flourished over the last four decades.
“Our intent is to be here and maintain a physical presence in South San Francisco as a part of this community for years to come,” he said.
The new master plan was unveiled last year and has since received reviews from officials who were generally supportive of the company’s direction. It continues an update process initiated in 2017 — the most recent in a series of revisions to the campus plan first established in 1995. It was initially updated in 2007, when a development cap was established at 6 million square feet. In 2013, the master plan was amended to make way for a 27-acre development.
In previous discussions, it had been suggested that the master plan update could make way for 12,000 additional employees, which would more than double the 10,000 currently occupying the site.
Napetian said Genentech is not bound to those projections though, and acknowledged the pandemic has altered the company’s perspective when imagining its campus population.
Yet despite the changes brought to the workplace by COVID-19, Napetian said workplace culture remains a critical part of the company’s plan for the future.
“We believe in the importance of maintaining a physical campus and presence in South San Francisco, and remain committed to the long term despite any short-term uncertainties,” he said.
The company has featured a flexible policy that would allow employees to work from home, which positioned Genentech to react quickly when health conditions required, said Napetian.
But he noted the company’s lab work and other initiatives requires workers to be on campus, adding some employees have been at the site since the shutdown occurred.
Assuming the threat posed by the coronavirus subsides eventually, Napetian said the campus master plan accounts for housing and transportation issues that could be generated by the company’s growth.
To that end, he said Genentech has offered significant financial contributions to local and regional efforts to build additional affordable housing and homes for the missing middle.
And for mobility issues, he said the company urges employees to abandon their single-occupancy vehicle and take alternative forms of transportation. That commitment will continue, and the company is looking to offer its fleet of buses and shuttles to workers from other adjacent companies, he said.
“The master plan is something that is very important to us and we see this as a way of creating multiple opportunities to be good partners with the city and residents and members of the community,” he said.
More broadly, Napetian said the company sees the plan as a vehicle for showing its dedication to staying in South San Francisco.
“South City is a special place. We’ve been here for about 40 years, and we look forward to continuing that and being good neighbors along the way,” he said.
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