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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, July 30, 2012, 7:00 am

Study: BioMarin to give big boost to San Rafael economy

Also: Industry West now 88% full with 55,000sf of new tenants

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    Jeff Quackenbush, Business Journal Staff ReporterAs construction crews prepare 120,000 square feet of offices in San Rafael Corporate Center for the expansion of Novato-based BioMarin Pharmaceutical later this year, Marin Economic Forum has analyzed how much the arrival of more than 300 employees in the city will affect the greater business community. The figures are eye-popping.

    BioMarin plans to have 345 research-and-development and administrative jobs in San Rafael, some relocated from the 300,000 square feet of facilities in Novato and some part of the company’s growth at about 100 positions a year.

    “This will help us grow and keep us in Marin,” said spokesman Bob Purcell.

    That influx into Marin County’s largest city is projected to result in about 200 additional jobs in other San Rafael companies that do business with the maker of treatments for rare diseases, according to analysis by Robert Eyler, Ph.D., a Sonoma State University economist and interim head of the forum.

    BioMarin is projected to spend $50.2 million on its San Rafael operations, which suggests $30.7 million of additional indirect and induced business activity, based on Dr. Eyler’s figures using the Impact Analysis for Planning (IMPLAN) model used by governments worldwide. Indirect activity comes from researchers and office workers frequenting local restaurants, delis, grocery and other stores. Induced activity comes when employees hired by those support businesses to accommodate the added demand then make their own local purchases.

    “Like dropping a rock into a pond, the BioMarin expansion to San Rafael has effects on many industries throughout Marin County based on new business revenues, jobs and tax revenues,” Dr. Eyler wrote in the half-dozen-page report titled “The Importance of Commercial Real Estate Economic Impacts on Marin County, Calif.”

    Because of the economic activity, local and state governments would reap $4.3 million annually from new employment, sales, property, personal income and other taxes and fees.

    The point of the study was to emphasize how local governments should consider the wide-ranging economic impact of the commercial real estate development and tenant-improvement projects before them.

    The forum conducted similar analysis on Lucasfilm‘s proposed Grady Ranch digital movie studio, which was scuttled earlier this year amid opposition to the project from some neighboring residents. That study found the county lost 690 jobs, nearly $83 million in economic activity and $3.8 million in annual taxes and fees.

    ***

    Industry West Commerce Center off Todd Road in southwest Santa Rosa has brought in 55,000 square feet of leases in recent months, bringing the 275,000-square-foot industrial developments to 88 percent occupancy, according to developer Vince Rizzo.

    All of the deals have been in the largest of the three buildings, a 116,000-square-foot distribution warehouse at 256 Sutton Pl. In June, East Bay-based automotive parts importer and distributor Worldpac moved into 23,000 square feet, adding to its more than 95 North American locations. 

    J&B Aviation Services, a Vacaville-based provider of airline and military aircraft support systems and part of of Illinois ToolWorks, moved into 24,000 square feet three months ago.

    Earlier this year, PG&E signed a two-year lease for 8,400 square feet to store large electrical grid components for replacement projects along California’s North Coast.

    That leaves just the 24,000-square-foot former Billington Imports wine warehousing space to lease in the property, plus 15,00o adjacent square feet that could be secured through negotiations with an existing tenant, according to Mr. Rizzo. Existing tenant Graybar Electric signed on for another three years in its 13,000-square-foot space at 237 Todd Rd.

    “We’ve been pretty busy in the past nine months,” he said. “Leases we’ve signed in the last year were very similar to leases signed in mid- to late-2008. I’m very happy to say rents are not down or up but flat.”

    One of the appeals of the project is its newer industrial space and truck trailer-high loading docks, according to Sean Heaton, who has been marketing the property with fellow Cushman & Wakefield agent Tony Sarno.

    Another milestone for Industry West Commerce Center this year was the final resolution of a three-year court battle with Central Pacific Bank of Honolulu over the conversion of the $15.9 million construction loan to permanent financing. Industry West Commerce Center LLC filed for Bankruptcy Court protection in January 2010 as the bank demanded payment in full. The court approved rolling the loan into a seven-year takeout loan, effective in September 2010. The bank appealed the decision, and that was denied in March of this year.

    ***

    In another sign of increased economic activity in Petaluma, telecommunications equipment startup Cyan and real estate brokerage Keller Williams expanded by 8,700 square feet all together at Basin Street PropertiesRedwood Business Center office building at 1383 N. McDowell Blvd.

    Cyan, maker of communications network equipment and software, expanded its 14,800-square-foot office by 7,200 square feet.

    “Our rapid market expansion has driven a steady need to build-out our team,” said Rick Johnston, Cyan vice president of business operations and customer services.

    Keller Williams increased its 3,700-square-foot space by 1,500 square feet. Those leases bring the 58,300-square-foot building to 98 percent occupancy.

    Basin Street moved its 5,000-square-foot Petaluma administrative offices to its Theater District mixed-use development downtown to accommodate the growing tenants.

    “For Basin Street, getting kicked out of our office space is a good problem to have,” said Scott Stranzl, vice president.

    Send items for this column to jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or call 707-521-4256.

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