The rendering shows one of the three buildings at the proposed Pearl Place development in Boulder where Google intends to expand. (Courtesy Google)

Google made staying in Boulder priority in expansion quest

BOULDER – Google did explore other opportunities in the Denver metro area in its quest to expand its Colorado presence, but ultimately wanted to stay in Boulder.

Google announced what had been rumored in recent months locally, that the company intends to lease 330,000 square feet of office space at the pending Pearl Place redevelopment at the southwest corner of 30th and Pearl streets.

The move would consolidate Google’s three local offices – and soon a fourth temporary space – into one location and give the Silicon Valley-based tech giant the capacity to expand from about 300 Boulder em

ployees to as many as 1,500 over time.

Company officials didn’t disclose which other cities in Colorado were explored.

“When we searched for a new site we had very specific criteria such as the caliber of the work force, the right business climate and the infrastructure to support the needs of Google’s operations,” Scott Green, Google’s Boulder site director, said in a statement. “Boulder and Colorado have surpassed our expectations.”

Google spokesperson Curtis Hubbard said the company did not seek out any local or state incentives largely because the company didn’t need them.

“I think they view themselves as a community partner, and so that’s how they operate is to not seek things they don’t need,” Hubbard said.

Boulder Economic Council executive director said his organization had multiple conversations over time with Google about plans for expansion but said he couldn’t get into specifics about what functions the BEC had in aiding the company’s search for a spot in Boulder, where large office spaces are at a premium.

“They’re one of our most important employers of course, and it’s part of our ongoing work to cultivate those relationships and provide assistance when we can,” Harald said. “Our priority was to do what we could to help them expand in Boulder.”

While the employee ramp up is expected to happen over time, scaling up to 1,500 people would make Google one of the Boulder Valley’s top five or six employers along with the likes of IBM, Level 3 Communications, Boulder Community Hospital and Ball Corp.

“It’s basically affirmation of Boulder’s strength as an IT center,” Harald said. “A big part of that strength is that Boulder is the kind of community that gives companies here a competitive advantage when they’re recruiting new employees.”

But Harald said there are other intangibles Google brings with it as well, such as its participation locally in the nonprofit and education arenas.

Since 2011, Google has awarded $1.9 million in grants to Colorado nonprofits and schools in areas like science and technology education, carbon reduction, and access to the Internet.

The Pearl Place development is scheduled to go before the planning board for site approval Thursday night. The development covers a 4.3-acre site that wraps around the Chase Bank at the corner of 30th and Pearl, and will replace various commercial buildings there.

Two 110,000 square-foot buildings are scheduled to be included in Phase 1 of the development, with construction to begin in the third quarter of 2015 and an early 2017 opening date. The second phase would come later.

Denver-based Brickstone Partners and Forum Real Estate Group are development partners in the project, which was first proposed last summer and originally also included a hotel.