Pleasanton still boasts an enviable location for many businesses, but the city's premier business park is in real need of a makeover.
That's been stalled as the city has wended its way through rezoning land for affordable multi-unit housing projects. The business park, once viewed as the premier suburban location in Northern California, has been losing ground significantly to its key competitor, Bishop Ranch in San Ramon. There also a good high-end office alternatives in nearby Dublin that have equivalent freeway access.
As of June, Hacienda's fact sheet put vacancy for office space at 26 percenta stunning number when compared with Bishop Ranch's 3 percent. Bishop Ranch has lured a number of tenants from Hacienda, while Ross Stores, a long-time Hacienda tenant, moved across the freeway to Dublin.
Both Hacienda and Bishop Ranch were planned and started development in the 1980s and both have dated buildings that should be redeveloped. The difference is that Bishop Ranch is owned and managed by a single firm, Sunset Development with four exceptionsthe AT&T complex, the Chevron headquarters, the Toyota and UPS facilities. Sunset built significantly more class A office space than did Hacienda, where buildings were developed by a variety of firms.
Hacienda values have declined over its 30 years of existence to the point where churches and fitness clubs can afford the space. That's not the case in Bishop Ranch.
The inability, over the last number of years, for Hacienda owners and investors to redevelop buildings has resulted in the business park losing its competitive edge.
That's been driven by the city's shift to a bureaucracy that favors process above allmaking progress is irrelevant. That process focus means little gets done without a citizens' task force and findings that may or may not be adopted by the City Council and then there's always the possibility of a referendum.
Pleasanton benefited for years from foresighted leadership that guided the city in a consistent direction that welcomed private investment and built an enviable property tax and sales tax base with Stoneridge Mall, Hacienda and other business parks and the Pleasanton Auto Mall. When the city leadership took years to decide what to do on Staples Ranch with a popular active adult/senior living facility that had no opposition plus the expansion of the auto mallthat was a clear signal.
The auto mall management, given the recession and declining sales, has decided to stay putmissing the opportunity to add an additional line of cars.
I'm reminded of a story that former Mayor Ken Mercer told me over a meal a few years agorecalling how the city of Hayward, which has an enviable location at Highway 92 (San Mateo Bridge) and Interstates 580 and 880, was in high clover with Southland Mall and a vibrant business community. Twenty years later, community leaders were desperate to redevelop the downtown and recreate a business environment. Hayward ranks pretty low when it comes to desirable communities.
Could it happen here?