Bayer’s 651K sf Berkeley campus expansion plan moves to final vote

Company would invest in educational programs, affordable housing and child care as part of deal with East Bay city

The prospective plan for the Berkeley campus (Bayer)
The prospective plan for the Berkeley campus (Bayer)

Bayer’s plan to add more than 600,000 square feet to its Berkeley campus advanced to a final vote after two years of negotiations, a project that could mean over $30 million in community benefits for the East Bay city.

The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously this week to extend a development agreement between Bayer and the city by another three decades. The vote certified a final environmental impact report for the company’s expansion of its almost 1.2-million-square campus on Berkeley’s west side. A final hearing is set for Dec. 14, Bayer spokesperson Cathy Keck said Thursday.

If the city votes to extend the pact, set to expire in February, Bayer plans to hire another 1,000 employees for its Berkeley campus over the next 30 or so years, according to the San Francisco Business Times. In return, it would receive about $33 million in payments from the company over the course of the agreement.

The money would go toward creating a fund for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math that would be managed by city and company officials and provide five-year grants for STEAM career programs, the Business Times reported. It would also help fund infrastructure, affordable housing and child care, and public arts.

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The city would receive those payments even if Bayer doesn’t fully build out the maximum allowed amount — more than 1.7 million square feet — on its 46-acre campus, Berkeley City Councilmember Terry Taplin said earlier this week. The company intends to demolish nine buildings containing about 267,000 square feet and build 918,000 square feet of new facilities. It wouldn’t expand its boundaries beyond the Union Pacific railroad to the west, Dwight Way to the north, Seventh Street to the east and Grayson Street to the south.

A key element of the deal is a streamlined process that would allow those facilities to receive permits “in a timely fashion,” Keck said. “That predictability is essential.”

The earliest the company can begin to submit permit applications as part of its expansion plan is mid-January, assuming it receives final approval, Keck said.

[San Francisco Business Times] — Matthew Niksa