Lender would co-locate with farming trade groups
SANTA ROSA — American AgCredit is moving forward with a long-held vision to cast its new Santa Rosa headquarters as a hub for other agriculture organizations, more than doubling the planned size with a single 120,000-square-foot office building near Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport.
The lender had originally planned a multibuilding campus at the site, located at the corner of Aviation and Airport boulevards. A 50,000-square-foot headquarters building would have been the first of a two-phase approach, located on a 3.5-acre parcel the company purchased for construction at the corner of Skylane and Aviation Boulevard in October of last year. That acquisition included a two-year option to purchase an adjacent parcel of the same size.
Yet the rapid growth of the institution, which has $6 billion in assets, helped inspire talk of accelerating those long-term plans with a single large structure. The institution purchased the adjacent parcel this year and plans to break ground in spring, according to Terry Lindley, senior vice president of marketing.
“We built our current office here 15–16 years ago,” he said. “We’ve been out of space for a long time.”
The farm lender is expected to occupy around 85,000 square feet in the new building, with room to accommodate anticipated growth of its Santa Rosa workforce of around 25 percent to 30 percent in coming years.
American AgCredit has about 100 employees in its 32,000-square-foot headquarters at 200 Concourse Blvd., just to the west toward the airport. That office was opened in 1998, when the lender was named Pacific Coast Farm Credit and had $500 million in assets.
The name changed to American AgCredit in 2000, following the first of five significant mergers that most recently included the $1 billion acquisition of Colorado-based Farm Credit Services of the Mountain Plains. The member-owned financial cooperative now has 34 branches in six states and over 400 employees.
The company has also recently grown through acquisition in crop insurance, adding Petaluma’s Chris Maloney Crop Insurance Services this year and bringing its California premium volume to about $10 million. In Kansas and Oklahoma, volume is around $40 million.
Designed by Santa Rosa’s TLCD Architecture, the planned three-story structure is set to include a highly modular interior meant to accommodate the changing needs of the nation’s sixth-largest farm credit lender. Its design takes numerous cues from the aesthetics of the region’s agricultural lands.
Continued growth and collaboration across business units helped spur design of the modular interior space of the new headquarters, one that allows the majority of interior walls to be easily reconfigured, according to Don Tomasi, a TLCD principal.
The structure will include a large interior courtyard featuring three 35-year-old valley oaks, and an exterior of brown, perforated zinc is designed to enhance the natural appearance and provide sun shading, he said.
“Since they are an agriculture company, it made sense to reflect that,” said Mr. Tomasi.
Energy-efficiency measures include a floor-based air-circulation system. Gradual changes to the building’s exterior lighting will create a dynamic appearance through the evening, Mr. Tomasi said.
Mr. Lindley said that American AgCredit will sell its current headquarters and branch in Larkfield after moving to the new location. It also will exit the 15,000 to 20,000 square feet of space it currently leases. Construction is expected to last 16 to 18 months. Project cost is pending full completion of bidding.
Talks are still underway concerning the move of other organizations into the new headquarters. Likely candidates are Sonoma County Winegrowers, Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, Sonoma County Tourism, Sonoma County Farm Bureau and similar organizations.
Mr. Lindley expressed confidence that the vision of bringing many of the region’s wine and agriculture interests under one roof was within reach. That concept helped keep American AgCredit’s administrative nucleus on the West Coast, along with an expectation for expanded business travel opportunities from the nearby airport.
“It’s a big project,” he said. “But we plan to be here for a long time.”
Santa Rosa-based Jim Murphy & Associates is the project general contractor.
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