COVID-19 and the rise of telecommuting have raised questions about declining demand for office and housing growth and a possible mass exodus out of the Bay Area. But for Google, the plan is to stay the course and grow fast.
In an announcement Thursday, Google officials say they plan to invest a whopping $1 billion in new and existing sites across California in 2021 alone, much of it centered in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Nationally, the company anticipates creating 10,000 new jobs and investing $7 billion into its growth plans.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement that the expansion is a means to support state and local economies rebounding from COVID-19 which, paired with tight public health restrictions, caused a huge spike in unemployment and deep deficit spending.
"I believe a lasting economic recovery will come from local communities, and the people and small businesses that give them life. Google wants to be a part of that recovery," Pichai said.
As it stands today, Google already has 52,000 employees across the state of California, and that's likely to grow soon. The tech giant is expecting to finish two major projects in Mountain View — the 595,000-square-foot Charleston East project in North Bayshore and the 1.1 million-square-foot Bay View campus — later this year. Google is also beginning work on an office project in Sunnyvale, which the company touts as its first-ever "mass timber" construction design, as well as further expansion at San Francisco's Landmark building on Market Street.
The announcement comes despite reports that demand for new office development has slumped since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, which spurred most tech companies to require their employees to work from home. Even representatives from Google have said in past interviews that the company is in the process of reevaluating their space needs.
When Mountain View City Council members approved Google's Landings project in June last year, some worried that the project may not even get built.
Distinct from Google's past growth, the company's planned development spree also includes a huge amount of housing. Google's East Whisman and North Bayshore include a combined total of nearly 9,000 homes in Mountain View alone. In San Jose, a proposed mixed-use megaproject would include up to 4,000 homes.
Google officials said in the March 17 announcement that they will leverage a $250 million investment fund in order to help create 24,000 housing units, both conventional and modular, by 2029. Earlier this month, Google and Housing Trust Silicon Valley teamed up to provide $30 million in loans for affordable housing projects in the Bay Area. One of the recipients is Eden Housing's proposal to build affordable housing in North Bayshore.