Sunset moving to Oakland

Jack London Square to become new home for venerable lifestyle publications company

Sunset will move its headquarters from the Menlo Park campus it has occupied since 1951 to Jack London Square in Oakland in December, Sunset's parent company, Time Inc., announced Monday.

The announcement ends more than six months of speculation as to where Sunset would end up, following the news that Time intended to sell the 7-acre property at 80 Willow Road.

The new headquarters will be located at 55 Harrison St. in the same building that will house the Water Street Market, an artisan food marketplace being developed by Carlin Company, the team behind San Francisco's Ferry Building Marketplace and Napa's Oxbow Public Market. Sunset will occupy approximately 20,000 square feet on the second floor of the mixed-use building, and its offices will include a test kitchen and wine cellar, Time's press release states.

"Sunset founded its campus in Menlo Park in 1951, when people were moving to the suburbs across the United States," said Peggy Northrop, editor-in-chief of Sunset, in an interview with the Almanac, the Weekly's sister paper. "Now, people are moving closer to urban cores, reusing formerly industrial spaces, and being closer to jobs and food scenes. Sunset is reflecting a trend that our readers are living. In that sense, a magazine always wants to be close to its readers. This is an opportunity for us to do that."

"We are pleased to welcome Sunset, its staff, and its amazing test kitchen to the Water Street Market building," said James Ellis, managing principal of Ellis Partners, developer and manager of Jack London Square. Ellis Partners was also responsible for the redevelopment of Palo Alto's Town & Country Village shopping center.

In addition to its new location in Oakland, Sunset will also operate out of Cornerstone, a public garden, event and retail space in Sonoma. Sunset's main test garden, an outdoor kitchen and on-site programming will be offered there.

The Menlo Park property was sold to Embarcadero Capital Partners, a real estate investment and management firm based in Belmont, the Weekly's sister paper, the Almanac, reported last December.

The campus reportedly sold for $78 million, less than the rumored asking price of $84 million, according to Almanac sources.

Sunset was founded as a travel magazine, which was purchased by Laurence W. Lane for $65,000 in 1928. Lane moved the publication from San Francisco to Menlo Park in 1951, and in 1952, sons Bill and Mel Lane took over company operations.

Sunset was one of the first tenants in Menlo Park's innovative garden office zone, established under Mayor Charles Burgess, according to a 1998 Almanac article by Marion Softky.

"There were no electric signs, no commercial retail and no manufacturing. It was perfect," said Mel Lane.

Residential architect Cliff May designed his first commercial building to resemble an early Spanish ranch home. Set on 7 acres adjacent to San Francisquito Creek, the adobe building with the patios and test kitchens was surrounded by spacious gardens designed by Thomas Church.

"It became a laboratory for western living and model for what the magazine promoted," said Bill Lane in the 1998 article.

The elegant headquarters also became a popular tourist destination as Gray Line made it a stop on its tours, and residents brought friends and out-of-town visitors to peer into the kitchens and stroll through the gardens. There was a time when 75,000 people a year took the Sunset tour, Softky wrote.

The Lane brothers sold the company to Time Warner in 1990 for $225 million. Mel Lane died in 2007 and Bill Lane in 2010.

The annual Sunset Celebration Weekend, its last in Menlo Park, will take place this weekend, June 6 to 7. Sunset editors, celebrity chefs and lifestyle experts from across the West will bring the brand to life, showcasing the region's hottest trends in food, wine, travel, garden and home. Tickets and more information are available at

Sunset produces lifestyle content through magazines and books, events and experiences, and digital and social media. It offers five regional print editions -- Pacific Northwest, Northern California, Southern California, Southwest and Mountain. In addition to its print and digital publications, Sunset showcases the region's unique lifestyle and noteworthy destinations through its flagship events, established home programs, licensing partnerships, books and International Wine Competition, the company stated.

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Like this comment
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 3, 2015 at 10:02 am

Hulkamania is a registered user.

Even the newer north Sunset building is beautiful. It's too bad they'll both be torn down but when someone spends $78M...

12 people like this
Posted by Ghost of Bill Lane
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 3, 2015 at 10:32 am

Bill Lane must be spinning in his grave!

14 people like this
Posted by SunsetSinksIntoCrassness
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 3, 2015 at 10:38 am

It shows that elegance, good sense and style are lost to avarice, money, lack of appreciation for what is important to a community and lack of any historical preservation sensabilities. Next it will be parks and the baylands which will be rooted up for the value of $$$. For shame.

8 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 3, 2015 at 10:44 am

Don't blame Sunset. If local leaders aren't convincing enough to keep businesses around here....oh well

5 people like this
Posted by jean paul coupal
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2015 at 11:00 am

Why didn't Google, Facebook or Apple buy this and make it a ""Thought Center"" and just leave it alone !!!

18 people like this
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2015 at 11:00 am

A good win for Oakland which for years was looked down upon. Now Sunset looks at Oakland as exciting and trendy with markets, food places and ideas.

13 people like this
Posted by Kristina
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 3, 2015 at 11:01 am

I just think it's very sad ... an end of an era. Something that cannot and will not be replaced. Ah, money ... tsk.

6 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 3, 2015 at 11:05 am

Thrilled to be moving to Oakland, huh? Yeah, right.

How much of that 78 million just ends up in the pockets of corporate officers I wonder as their bonus for being so profitable?

22 people like this
Posted by Day of Mourning
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2015 at 11:16 am

We need to declare a day of mourning for the loss of so much we value that is being demolished by the moneychangers in Palo Alto, in Menlo Park, in Mountain View, and more.
We need to bring back the idea of shame for traditional vices, like greed.

11 people like this
Posted by litgal
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 3, 2015 at 11:23 am

Very sad about Sunset's move. I grew up in a Sunset family as my Dad was editor of the book division at Sunset. How times have changed!

2 people like this
Posted by muttiallen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 3, 2015 at 11:30 am

muttiallen is a registered user.

Hard to have demonstration gardens in a 2nd floor office building with nothing around but paving. Sunset will never be the same -- but I've hardly read it in years. We do our gardening and cooking idea-gathering online now.

12 people like this
Posted by past
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2015 at 11:58 am

Where is the Historical Society or the Heritage Society. You can't take a redwood tree down in Menlo but you can demolish historical architecture and a Bay Area icon? For what, another glass and steel office complex? The laboratory for Western Living, style and culture in Oakland? Sunset has lost it's relevance and, like other dinosaurs, with be extinct along with gracious living.

13 people like this
Posted by Retired
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2015 at 12:20 pm

I worked at Sunset in the 90's and remember when the company was sold to Time Warner. The suits came out from NYC, directed all employees to the North Building, and told everyone how great Sunset was and not to worry because they believed "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Six weeks later the first 75 employees were let go. Of course a stand alone company is going to have duplication (accounting, marketing, etc.) but they lied. 400 employees were cut down to less than 200 by the time they got to me. It's all about making the organization a lean, mean machine and maximizing profits at all costs. Good luck in O Town; EPA was probably too expensive.

11 people like this
Posted by Dorothy Black
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2015 at 12:24 pm

I moved from Stanford to Oakland in 1999! Thrilled to have Sunset come to Oakland. Jack London Square has wonderful restaurants, boats on the water and more stores coming. Sunset will be in good company and I am delighted. Pay Oakland and the Square a visit. Dorothy Black

7 people like this
Posted by Sunset-for-Sunset
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Hard to believe that this isn't the beginning of the end for Sunset magazine.

It's possible that it might change it's name, and focus on an urban market, but that would definitely be the end of this once well-regarded magazine focusing on suburbanites and their homes.

5 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 3, 2015 at 1:11 pm

Watched a TV interview of the Sunset publisher last night. She essentially indicated that they're changing their focus to the new "urbanism". Thus the geographic change.

JL Sqaure is nice...but then there's the rest of downtown Oakland. No disrespect - but there are some big safety issues going on there right now.

6 people like this
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2015 at 2:00 pm

OH NO! How sad. I love the Sunset fair every year. We always ride our bikes over and enjoy the food and drinks while taking in the various sights! It will surely be missed.

4 people like this
Posted by TimH
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 3, 2015 at 3:14 pm

What's next for the Menlo property? I wonder if any community feedback will be entertained prior to tear down and "mixed-use" building plans. Perhaps that would be preferable to becoming another technology hub, seriously.

12 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 3, 2015 at 6:22 pm

I'm sad that we're losing Sunset but happy for Jack London Square and Oakland.

We spend a lot more time up there hearing live entertainment. In the last 2 weeks, we've been to great shows at Yoshi's Jazz Club in Jack London and at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley,

Where's the live entertainment here? Only at private house concerts and in Redwood City which so many scorn even though RWC has done such a great job of revitalizing their downtown.

I'll take their "new urbanism" over our sterility and Office Park Moderne mentality.

2 people like this
Posted by Jackie
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 29, 2016 at 3:07 pm

I lived on Baywood Avenue from birth until 1956 so I grew up with the Sunset Magazine. I am just heart sick to read that this lovely landmark building will be torn down. Tell me that it is just a rumor and not really true.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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