John Arrillaga, who parlayed holdings of Northern California farmland into an empire of office parks for the emerging tech industry now known as Silicon Valley, reaping billions in the process and establishing himself as one of the state’s foremost developers, died Monday. He was 84.
Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, Arrillaga’s daughter, confirmed his death in a Medium post.
Richard Peery, Arrillaga’s business partner of 55 years, described him in a statement to The Real Deal as “a class act, a principled man and a loyal business partner.”
Through their firm Peery Arrillaga, the duo began turning thousands of acres of orchards in what was then known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight into offices in the 1960s. The developers completed over 20 million square feet of corporate campuses for companies such as Apple, Cisco Systems, and Intel, and helped transform the area into the nation’s tech mecca.
The valley’s output, pegged at $275 billion in 2019 by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, is higher than Finland’s.
Peery and Arrillaga were the first inductees into NAIOP’s Silicon Valley Developer Hall of Fame in 2007, a year after the pair sold less than half of their real estate portfolio — more than 5 million square feet — for $1.1 billion. It represented quite a return on investment from the $2,000 of the duo’s own money, plus some financing from others, that they used to acquire the sites of the campuses, according to Fortune.
“The free-flowing, cowboy style that is high tech would not have happened nearly as efficiently without Peery and Arrillaga,” Dan Rosenbaum, then-president of NAIOP’s Silicon Valley chapter, said during the Hall of Fame induction event. “They got out there shoulder to shoulder and built it.”
Arrillaga attended Stanford University on a basketball scholarship and later became a big benefactor of his alma mater, making a $151 million donation in 2013, at the time the largest by a living donor in the institution’s history. He also completed and donated over 200 buildings to its campus, Andreessen-Arrillaga, who is married to noted Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, said in her Medium post.
Arrillaga and his first wife Frances had two children together, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen and John Arrillaga Jr., principal and co-founder of A&E Real Estate, one of New York’s largest multifamily landlords. After Frances died in 1995, Arrillaga married Gioia Fasi, a former attorney.