May 18, 2014by debbieheinze

By George Avalos
Bay Area News Group

SANTA CLARA — Levi’s Stadium has spurred a burst of nearby growth as developers position projects that they hope will bask in the glow of the 49ers’ new home.

The highest-profile projects are two mixed-use developments adjacent to the stadium, one proposed by Related California and the other by a group led by Hall of Fame 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. Both consist of hotels, retail and offices. Nearby, a major regional campus for Samsung is under construction.

And more is in the works. Roughly $3 billion worth of office buildings, retail centers, hotels and residences are under construction or on the drawing boards in the vicinity of the stadium, according to estimates by the cities of Santa Clara and San Jose.

“The stadium is bringing a vibrancy to the area that has been missing to this point,” said Bill Halford, president of Bixby Land, a developer that is buying, renovating and leasing buildings in Santa Clara and north San Jose in the area of the 49ers football field. “The stadium puts the area on the map.”

To be sure, some of that development would have occurred anyway because of the technology boom that has been underway for the past three years. But developers, realty executives and analysts say a considerable amount of the new activity is due to what they call the “stadium effect.”

Much like the China Basin district of San Francisco was transformed after the Giants began playing baseball at what is now known as AT&T Park, local officials hope Levi’s Stadium will anchor a bustling zone of restaurants, cocktail lounges, residential units, office buildings and tech companies.

“Santa Clara is really trying to do its best to mimic the AT&T effect,” said Mark Schmidt, a managing director with the San Jose office of CB Richard Ellis, a commercial realty brokerage.

That transformation is already underway. In March, Bixby Land paid more than $100 million for a seven-building office complex in Santa Clara a short distance from the football stadium. The developer intends to spend $20 million to transform the collection of decades-old buildings into a sleek, new office campus for technology companies. Bixby Land believes the complex’s location near Levi’s Stadium is a big boost.

“We are seeing a lot of interest in our projects near the stadium, due to the football field and the overall demand from tech companies,” Halford said.

Santa Clara Gateway, another new project, has landed a number of large tenants and is seeing plenty of interest for its remaining spaces. It helps that the stadium, just a mile away, is visible from just about every spot in the office park, Schmidt said.

“The stadium has definitely created a buzz,” he said. “That whole area around (Highways) 101 and 237 has become one of the hottest corridors in Silicon Valley right now.”

Projects either recently completed, under construction or being planned in the vicinity of the stadium total 12 million square feet, according to city officials in San Jose and Santa Clara. That includes retail, restaurants and entertainment facilities, such as theaters, for a total of 1.1 million square feet; hotels with a total of 1,600 rooms; and several hundred residential units.

“Because of the stadium, developers are paying more attention to Santa Clara and north San Jose — they see it as a further sign of good growth opportunities in Silicon Valley,” said Chad Leiker, a vice president with Kidder Mathews, a commercial realty brokerage. “The whole area will become a destination.”

The developers’ attraction to the stadium in part reflects their tenants’ attraction to it.

“I personally have experienced with tenants that they think being near stadiums like this one is kind of cool,” said Phil Mahoney, an executive vice president with the Santa Clara office of Cornish & Carey Commercial, a realty brokerage. “The stadium creates a sense of place for this area. It’s a catalyst to economic activity and companies wanting to locate here.”

Scott Connelly, development project manager for San Jose-based Barry Swenson Builder, which is constructing two hotels in North San Jose that will total 321 rooms, agrees that the nearby stadium is a big plus.

“We absolutely will benefit,” he said. “We’re close to the airport and we should see some upside from stadium business.”

Even some projects not in the immediate vicinity could be bolstered by the stadium effect, according to developers. Dean Rubinson, a senior vice president for Ellis Partners, which is developing the 101 Tech campus near the junction of Highways 101 and 87 in north San Jose, said the positive spillover from the stadium is far reaching.

“What happens with a stadium is the whole area gets national attention, the area changes in people’s minds,” he said. “Retail, restaurants and residential follow, and it helps office buildings.”

Goertek Electronics is moving from Sunnyvale to a larger space in Santa Clara Gateway on Great America Parkway later this year, and the nearby stadium has sparked a lot of discussion among the employees, said company spokesperson Yi Zhang.

“It’s exciting to be near the football stadium,” Zhang said. “A lot of the employees watch football very often. They buy tickets and go to the games. They love being near the stadium.”

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