Friday, March 18, 2005

Lusting for the Stem Cell HQ

Can you say stem cell concierge? Can you say private jet service? If you can, you are talking about the bids cities have made for the headquarters of the California stem cell agency.

Lust is a good word for it. Longing for the permanent headquarters of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has prompted localities throughout the state to cough up commitments for crisis counseling to cops.

We have put together the following compilation of bids from a variety of newspaper reports over the past several days. It is only semi-complete, as is everything on this blog. Totally missing is San Mateo County, which was not available when we gathered the information. That is important because that county is where Robert Klein, chairman of CIRM, lives and does business. We will give you San Mateo when it weighs in.

Basically all the areas are offering free rent for 10 years. Some offers exceed the requested square footage by 3,000 feet. Links to a bunch of HQ news stories are at the end of this piece.

Keep in mind that this listing is based on what has been reported. Do not assume, for example, that Sacramento has not offered free health club memberships while others have. Probably it has not been reported in the press. Moreover, the negotiation process in the bidding will see many added incentives.

We are going to go with The Big Tomato (Sacramento) first in a blatant display of partisanship. This writer lived in the The Big Tomato for 21 years, most of which were a great pleasure. That said, we have been absent from the Golden State for more than six years. We have no financial interest anywhere in California, either in real property, biotechnology of any sort, venture capital, stocks or anything else, unless they are held in a mutual fund. But we do figure that listing Sacramento first in this rundown will give it the heft to put it over the top. Everybody else will have to be satisfied with alphabetical order.

Sacramento -- The city of Sacramento and the Angelo Tsakopoulos family made an offer the city valued at $7.3 million. It includes rent-free offices at One Capitol Mall in Old Sacramento, free parking and conference space, and up to $800,000 in cash for tenant improvements. The Angelo Tsakopoulos family also offered $450,000 in free utilities and services. Wendy Saunders, Sacramento's economic development director, said the city's contributions of conference space and parking were worth $750,000. Views of the Sacramento River are promised as well as a short jaunt to the Capitol itself.

Emeryville -- City leaders want to keep the headquarters right where it is now, in temporary facilities at the Emery Station office park on Horton Street, across the street from an Amtrak station. City officials said that slightly more than half of all U.S. biotech companies have their headquarters in the Bay Area -- a third of them in Emeryville, such as Chiron and Bayer corporations. The offer includes free health club, free use of Pixar Animation Studios' digital theater and gourmet kitchen; reduced rate hotel rooms for visiting scientists; free use of conference rooms at Chiron Corp.; free parking; free shuttles from BART. The current landlords have touted their connections to Chiron, one of whose founders is Ed Penhoet, who is vice chairman of the stem cell agency oversight committee.

Los Angeles – Space at City National Plaza downtown, along with $1 million in grants “to support administrative efforts,” private jet services, free round-the-clock concierge service, a police liaison and 10 free days of large meeting space.

San Diego – A $9 million offer, according to the city. But then it adds that it is “worth a million dollars (more) to be out there on Torrey Mesa overlooking Torrey Pines Golf Course and the Pacific Ocean, and to be surrounded by UCSD and some of the finest research institutions in America." San Diego offers a "readiness team" to assist in planning, coordination and startup of the facility, furnishings and systems and an "advisory council,"a group of top local executives available for advice, introductions within the community, resources and crisis support. Included are 100 hours of free legal services, free branding and marketing advice from public-relations firm Mentus.

San Francisco – The $10 million package includes 20,000 square feet of free office space in a year-old building at 250 King St., known as Mission Place, across the street from the Giants ballpark and a short walk to UC San Francisco's new biosciences campus in Mission Bay. It also includes free shuttles, discounted gym memberships and the use of City Hall, SBC Park and city-owned convention facilities for gatherings, free high-cost videoconferencing equipment and broadband access, free and discounted office furnishings, free and reduced-rate hotel rooms and limo service and no-cost Web communications.

San Jose – The San Jose mayor, whose name shall be omitted in this sentence because he is shameless, personally pony-expressed 10 copies of his city's 25-page proposal to Sacramento, all in the hopes of generating more press coverage. San Jose offered two locations: The Concourse in North San Jose Innovation Triangle, 1731 Technology Drive; or Fairmont Plaza downtown at 50 W. San Fernando St. Perks: $500,000 in free tenant improvements, free parking, on-site exercise facilities, cut-rate hotel rooms, free furniture, security liaison at San Jose Police Department, donated video and computer setups,free round-the-clock concierge service and 10 free days of large meeting space.

Here are links to many of the stem cell HQ stories: San Francisco Chronicle, San Diego Union Tribune, Sacramento Bee, Los Angeles Times, LA Business Journal, Silicon Valley Business Journal.

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