San Diego Developer Offers Perks for Tech Elite, Lands GoPro Outpost

Can a sleek tech campus with “concierge” services reverse the gravitational pull that Silicon Valley seems to exert on San Diego tech startups?

Maybe.

GoPro (NASDAQ: GPRO), the digital camera maker based in San Mateo, CA, is expanding its suburban San Diego outpost—moving over 100 employees into a renovated and amenity-laden campus just 400 feet from South Carlsbad State Beach in Carlsbad, CA. The company is expected to add more employees after that.

While GoPro’s workforce in San Diego is only about 10 percent of the company’s 1,000-plus employees, the new Carlsbad business park was designed to attract tech companies by providing the kind of perks that Silicon Valley millennials have come to expect—without the Bay Area’s out-of-control prices, traffic, and culture.

“This place is like a lab. These buildings are living, breathing things,” Cruzan partner Pete Spencer told a group of business and technology journalists during a Friday afternoon tour of the 175,000-square-foot facility on Avenida Encinas now known as “make.”

Cruzan partner Peter Spencer

Peter Spencer

Cruzan, a Del Mar, CA-based commercial real estate developer and investment firm, acquired what was once a single enormous building (The International Floral Exchange warehouse and distribution center) two years ago for $12.5 million. The redesign opened the building into several distinct office buildings, and Cruzan has been working with other real estate firms to recruit tech and life sciences companies as tenants for the space.

The city of Carlsbad’s economic development office featured the new campus as part of a two-day media tour (intended primarily for out-of-town media) to promote the coastal region about 35 miles north of San Diego as a growing hub in its own right. The scenic coastal city, which has about 14,000 businesses and a 2013 population of nearly 111,000, also is looking for ways to attract innovative life sciences, IT, action sports, and cleantech companies.

Make, Carlsbad, tech center

Make commuter shuttle

In a bid to provide the same sort of amenities that attracts talented employees to companies like Google in Silicon Valley, Cruzan is providing what property manager Jim Mandler calls “concierge-level services” —including a fully-integrated yoga studio, fitness center, and spa; avant garde café; surfboard lockers and shower space; bicycle lockers; outdoor amphitheater; horseshoe pit; fire pit; and electric vehicle charging stations.

Cruzan also purchased a shuttle so workers won’t have to drive between the facility and Carlsbad’s nearby commuter rail station, or the McClellan-Palomar Airport, a general aviation airport that caters to corporate jets and is less than 5 miles away.

While GoPro has so far declined to detail its expansion plans in San Diego, Cruzan’s Spencer said the company agreed to serve as the developer’s anchor tenant. GoPro has leased 45,000 square feet of office space at make, and plans to move in before the end of October, he added.

GoPro, founded in 2004 by UC San Diego graduate Nick Woodman, also asked Cruzan to install an outdoor party space for GoPro on the beachside roof of their building—along with a private elevator.

GoPro currently has numerous job openings for software engineers and analysts, and is expected to hire about 80 more employees after moving into the new space, Spencer added.

GoPro office in Carlsbad

Under Construction: New GoPro office in Carlsbad

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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