By Tim Hunt
Masud Mehran's legacyUploaded: Dec 3, 2013
Masud Mehran, one of the builders who transformed both Livermore and San Ramon, died last month at the age of 93.
He founded Sunset Development in 1951 and started building what was known as Sunset Town on the west side of Livermore. That project coincided with the establishment of Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national laboratories and the influx of employees. When completed, the area totaled more than 4,000 homes, 500 apartments and the Sunset office park. The firm currently is planning to redevelop the office area into homes and condominiums.
With the anti-growth politics taking root firmly in Livermore in the late 1960s and 1970s, Mehran turned his attention to San Ramon and purchased 585 acres The original thought was to build residences, but county leaders really wanted the revenue from a business development.
So Bishop Ranch was planned and has been an economic home run for both Contra Costa County and the city of San Ramon. The business park was approved by the county supervisors and eventually annexed to the city after San Ramon incorporated in 1983.
It started modestly with Toyota purchasing the first parcel for a warehouse that still operates today. However, two home runs followed when both Chevron and Pacific Bell (now part of AT&T) purchased huge parcels and eventually constructed more than 2 million square feet of office and research facilities.
Both companies were attracted to San Ramon by significantly lower rents than San Francisco. The park was part of the boom in suburban office parks such as Hacienda in Pleasanton as well as the major multi-story office buildings in downtown Walnut Creek and Concord.
Guided by Masud's son, Alex, Sunset Development built many additional office buildings that it continues to own and manage today. The park now totals more than 10 million square feet of office space with about 35,000 people working there. The list of tenants reflects the Fortune 500 as well as smaller companies and now includes Chevron's corporate headquarters.
Driving around Dublin at midday on Black Friday, I caught a traffic update on the radio. It cited back-ups on Interstate 580 from Hacienda to Fallon and attributed it to crowds trying to shop at Stoneridge Mall. Nice try, it was the shoppers drawn to the upscale Livermore Premium Outlets. Livermore police had warned earlier in the week that there would be lots of congestion around the mall which opened about a year ago.
Having just come from around Stoneridge, I can report traffic around the mall was not an issue.
The outlet mall is a destination shopping center with bargain shoppers willing to drive a long distance. The contrast between Stoneridge and the outlets will not bother the owner, Simon, because the company bought the outlet center the week it opened last year after owning Stoneridge for several years. It wins no matter which mall a person shops.