Business-review company Yelp has decided not to move into the College Terrace Centre in Palo Alto after all, a Yelp spokesman said, citing construction delays.
The decision came in early 2015, according to spokesman Vince Sollitto.
"Yelp decided to expand in Chicago instead of the oft-delayed Palo Alto location and reached an agreement with the landlord to vacate the lease and make it available to another tenant," Sollitto wrote in an email. "Yelp has since expanded in Chicago."
Beyond that, Sollitto said, the "company has no further comment."
San Francisco-based business-review company Yelp announced plans in September 2014 to move into the College Terrace Centre, taking 38,000 square feet of office space at the 65,382-square-foot mixed-use, transit-oriented development at 2180 El Camino Real. The site includes 45,572 square feet of offices, more than 13,000 square feet of retail, eight affordable housing units and 227 parking spaces.
But while Yelp had signed a lease agreement, the company also had plans in Chicago. A month prior to signing its agreement at College Terrace, Yelp announced in August 2014 that it would open a 50,000-square-foot campus at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, hiring up to 300 people, according to the company.
In March 2015, the company announced it was adding another 10,000 square feet and up to 100 more jobs to its Chicago operations, according to a statement by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The company partnered with Skills for Chicagoland's Future, a public-private partnership partially funded by the City of Chicago, to recruit qualified, underemployed job seekers.
In Palo Alto, Yelp had planned to hire local sales and engineering employees, Yelp spokeswoman Rachel Walker said in 2014.
Yelp's departure might be fortuitous for the developers, who did not return phone calls asking for comment on this article. In the booming real estate market, the developers were able to negotiate a new pre-lease agreement for an unknown sum with another company for the entire 45,572 square feet of office space, according to a press release by Greystone, a New York-based real estate lending, investment and advisory company that is a partner at College Terrace Centre.
Greystone announced its partnership with property owners, the Clara E. Chilcote Trust, on Jan. 15.
The office space "is 100 percent pre-leased to a nationally recognized credit tenant," Greystone announced.
Palo Alto developer Jim Baer, who leases a space to First Republic Bank at 2275 El Camino Real at Cambridge Avenue, said that to his knowledge the company plans to lease the College Terrace Centre for branch banking on the ground floor and the upper-floor for financial services and professional offices.
College Terrace Centre has been a long time coming. The project was mired in delays since its initial approval by the Palo Alto City Council in December 2009 and had trouble securing financing due to the recession.
The last major hiccup occurred on Dec. 1, 2014, when the council raised concerns about a plan by developer Twenty-One Hundred Ventures Inc. to bring in a member of its development team, James Smailey, as the lessee for the grocery store. Under its "planned-community" (PC) zoning ordinance for the project, the project is required to have a viable grocery store to replace the now-closed JJ&F Market, which was located on the site for 68 years.
Smailey did not have any experience as a grocer, although he said he planned to bring in grocers with experience to run the operation. The council extended the project's building permit, which would have expired that December, until early March 2015. Seven days later, Twenty-One Hundred Ventures Adventera proposed bringing former Alma Plaza grocer Miki Werness in as the grocer. The council approved Werness' participation on Dec. 15, 2014.
The College Terrace project, which is now under construction, is about 55 percent completed. It is scheduled to open in late summer, Greystone said.