The University of California Santa Cruz this week signed a 20-year lease for nearly 130,000 square feet of office space at the spectacular former headquarters of Borland Ltd. at Scott Valley’s north end.
The university also announced it will relocate its technology, human resources, financial services and communications departments – whose 500 employees comprise about 15 percent of its total administrative staff -- from the west side of Santa Cruz into vacant offices in two connected three-story buildings at the scenic seven-building campus built in 1993.
“We’re thrilled to have UCSC here,” said Scotts Valley Mayor Donna Lind. “UCSC will be a good neighbor and a good partner, and their employees will be buying their lunches and groceries and shopping here.”
“Five hundred people coming to Scotts Valley, shopping and eating — that’s nothing but good news,” said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Danny Reber.
“We will be calling it the UC Santa Cruz Scotts Valley Center,” said Campus Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway in a letter to UCSC employees Monday.
The center’s connected buildings surround a small park, with indoor and outdoor fountains and numerous balconies.
University officials said they are planning to make the move in the last weeks of 2016, leaving three leased offices and one university-owned building on the west side of Santa Cruz.
The owner of the property, Chinese investor Hong Bo Li, is committed to $3.8 million in interior renovations in 2016, including reopening a large on-site cafeteria. The owner also will be responsible for all utilities, taxes and maintenance.
The stunning announcement is being called the county’s biggest lease in years – one of the biggest single leases in Northern California. It will allow the university to add research and academic facilities, and combine its administrative services offices in a single location at the Enterprise Technology Center. The university indicated last year it was exploring the possible move.
Most importantly for Scotts Valley, the UCSC announcement is the latest in a string of announcements of new commercial development in northern Scotts Valley.
It also symbolically plugs a physical and emotional gap created more than a decade ago when 1990s rising software star Borland was acquired and moved to Silicon Valley in 2000. The Borland departure was followed by significant down-sizing by Seagate, which also moved most employees back Over the Hill.
Kaiser Permanente last month announced it would be opening a medical clinic on the other side of Highway 17.
The city this year granted initial approval for a new Marriott hotel to be built immediately north of the technology center, for a 2017 opening. A new Lexington Hotel a short distance away on Scotts Valley Drive, is scheduled to open later this year.
All of this news comes as the city prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
When the technology center property was purchased in 2013, it was vacant, a poignant reminder of the city’s dashed 1990s dreams of a mountain-based Silicon Valley South. Since then, a quiet Scotts Valley 2.0 has been gradually filling up the nearly 450,000 square feet of office space in the seven connected buildings just north of the Granite Creek exit on the east side of Highway 17.
Commercial real estate broker Steve Sheldon of Santa Cruz said that in the last three years, 14 businesses, most of them high-tech firms, have leased about 125,000 square feet of office space at Enterprise Technology Center.
One firm, startup Kamama, has expanded its lease from 1,200 to 18,000 square feet. The center is also is corporate headquarters for ETR, an international health education firm. Physicians Medical Group relocated its headquarters from Santa Cruz to the Scotts Valley building complex.
Sheldon said he is optimistic that new leases – bringing more high-end workers to Silicon Valley – will continue to gradually fill the technology center.
For more information, visit news.ucsc.edu/scottsvalley.