WeWork, a leading provider of coworking space in cities around the world, is looking to expand its reach into Palo Alto. The New York-based company plans on bringing its shared office culture to the three-story brick building at 3101 Park Blvd. that Groupon quietly vacated before the end of 2018.
According to the city's planning department, WeWork filed a permit on Dec. 19 to occupy the entire 40,140-square-foot building, as well as conduct $1.8 million worth of renovation work that includes upgrades to the building's exterior and the addition of a coffee bar. The permit is still under review, according to planning records.
The company's website also lists 16 new job openings in Palo Alto, including positions for researchers and software engineers.
When contacted by email on Monday, WeWork would not confirm whether it was expanding into Palo Alto.
"We have not signed a lease at that location and have nothing to share at this time," Gordon Bronson, head of WeWork's public affairs, told the Weekly.
WeWork's pending expansion into Palo Alto comes at a time of rapid growth for the company, which operates 24 sites throughout the Bay Area that are open or set to open soon (including ones in San Mateo and Mountain View). The San Francisco Chronicle reported that WeWork has become San Francisco's fourth-largest office tenant with 1.43 million square feet leased and owned. The privately held company is valued at $45 billion, making it the second most valuable U.S. startup behind Uber, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The 9-year-old company has built its success on leasing or purchasing office buildings, redesigning their interiors into coworking spaces with trendy amenities — such as meditation rooms and juice bars — and then renting out shared desks and office spaces primarily to tech startups. In recent years, WeWork has expanded its services to also include larger tenants with 1,000 or more employees.
According to the company's website, monthly rental rates for its new office on Concar Drive in San Mateo are $475 for shared desk space or $950 to $10,200 for private office space, pending the number of included seats. The company provides 1,650 desks at the 95,000-square-foot site, according to the Registry. Its new 72,160-square-foot site on West San Carlos Street. in San Jose offers 1,344 desks, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
Based on those numbers, the Park Boulevard site could accommodate around 725 shared desks.
Groupon, which provides daily coupons for subscribers, had occupied the Palo Alto office building for the past seven years after moving there in 2011 to attract more tech-savvy employees, Groupon spokeswoman Julie Mossler told the Weekly at the time. The three-story building was able to accommodate about 300 workers, she said.
The property was listed for lease on online real estate marketplace Loopnet as early as March 2018, but would not be available for a new tenant until Jan. 1, according to the listing.
On Jan. 7, the building was vacant. All previous signage from Groupon, which specializes in "daily deal" coupons, had been removed, except a side glass door.
Groupon is in the process of relocating to a new office in Santa Clara, expected to open by the end of this month, spokesman Nicholas Halliwell told the Weekly.
The company will operate a smaller office on California Avenue in Palo Alto, just a few blocks from the now-vacant Park Boulevard site, until this summer when the lease expires.
Those employees will then transition to the Santa Clara office, he added.
"Once the moves are complete, our Bay Area presence will consist of the new Santa Clara location and our existing S.F. office," Halliwell said.