February 20, 2023

The Brentwood Innovation Center: A Technology & Town Center Coming to Contra Costa County Along Highway 4

By Ricardo Noguera, economic development manager with the City of Brentwood

Historical range of life science industries in the San Francisco Bay Area

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to one of the largest markets for life science, pharma and biotech industries in the United States and supports one of the highest concentrations of higher learning institutions and universities which includes: University of California at San Francisco, Stanford, University of California at Berkeley, University of California at Davis, and many others. There is an enormous pipeline of talented professionals available to fill life science positions across the entire Bay Area. For the past several years, many employers from Genentech in South San Francisco to Bayer Labs in Berkeley have sought to locate near university campuses where the talent was readily available. Consequently, the San Mateo Peninsula from San Francisco southward along the Highway 101 Corridor to Santa Clara, drew and continues to attract both start-ups and expanding biotechnology firms. Along the east shore of the Bay, the cities of Berkeley, Emeryville, Hayward and Fremont have also served to foster both start-ups and expanding life science companies. With available land being scarce and far too expensive, developers are now forced to build vertical which is far more expensive.

Opportunities abound eastward

We are now witnessing the expansion of life science firms eastward along the Interstate 580 and 680 Corridors in Pleasanton, Dublin San Ramon, Walnut Creek and Livermore. Companies such as Astex Pharmaceuticals, Roche Pharmaceuticals, Supergen Pharmaceutical Products, Cerus Corporation and Lawrence Livermore Labs all call this area home. In fact, Livermore has been home to Lawrence Livermore Labs for several decades where a talented workforce has commuted from across the Bay Area to this town which is located about 50 miles east of San Francisco. Life science firms no longer must locate along the San Mateo Peninsula or Eastshore with the ease of commuting north, south, east and west across the 9-Bay Area County Region. Plus, with limited land available in San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Alameda, life science firms and their associated developers are considering expansion eastward.

Brentwood’s Innovation Center offers new opportunities for a life science campus

There are few multi-acre development sites available for life science campuses in the Bay Area today. Beyond the Concord Naval Station site along Highway 4, Brentwood’s Innovation Center represents one of the last shovel-ready sites remaining where the land use and zoning controls are in place to support a new and/or expanding life science campus and where the talent is either local or can reach the area in a far shorter time period because of the reverse commute; drivers from Berkeley can travel 60 miles to Brentwood in one hour during peak hour commute time. Both life science and technology firms considering expansion along the Highway 4 Corridor and the Brentwood Innovation Center in particular, are helping to mitigate the housing/jobs imbalance, reducing commutes for a workforce while improving their quality of life (less time on the roads and more with family), and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the amount of time and distance commuters are on the road.

For years, there has been discussion of the need to attract high end jobs and clustered development to Contra Costa County along Highway 4, the major east-west corridor connecting the Interstate 5 with the East Bay. With thousands of technology and healthcare professionals calling the cities of Brentwood, Antioch, Oakley, and Pittsburg home, there’s been a need to attract life science, technology and healthcare related employers to the area. Lacking such employers in the area, the talented workforce has been forced to commute three to four hours each day across the San Francisco Bay Area to employers such as Bayer Labs, Genentech, UCSF, and Stanford Medical Center, to name a few.

With the arrival of the 300-acre Innovation Center, life science and healthcare employers can now consider expansion and/or relocation opportunities on shovel-ready properties immediately adjacent to Highway 4 in Brentwood. The City of Brentwood is investing millions in public infrastructure improvements which includes extending Sand Creek Road northeasterly from Highway 4 to Heidorn Ranch Road this year. The City has also prepared a Programmatic Environmental Impact Report, reducing the time to secure permits for developers and life science companies. Most recently, the City adopted a Specific Plan to support a mix of technology, office and mixed-use development projects on both sides of Highway 4. Darin Gale, assistant city manager for the City of Brentwood shared “The Innovation Center will support a mix of technology-based companies, residents and retail and restaurant establishments within a new community which will enable the workforce to live, work and play within a one-mile radius no longer dependent upon a private vehicle but able to use a bicycle or walk”.

This site is strategically positioned between Sand Creek Road and Lone Tree Way offering excellent visibility and access for commuters from across the Bay Area. Ricardo Noguera, Economic Development Manager for the city added, “For employers seeking easy access from Highway 4 and great visibility, there’s no better site available in the Bay Area than the Brentwood Innovation Center. With an abundance of luxury homeownership and rental housing options, great quality schools and safe neighborhoods, nearby shopping and dining options (Lone Tree Plaza, Streets of Brentwood and Slatten Ranch), the Innovation Center has it all for expanding employers to consider from across the entire Bay Area”.

The City is also willing to consider an array of incentives including up to $1 million in cash incentives along with its’ partners, the State of California GO-BIZ and Pacific Gas & Electric Company, where millions more in incentives can be packaged to support the expanding life science industry.

For more information on purchasing or developing a site, please contact the City of Brentwood’s economic development team: Darin Gale, assistant city manager; (925) 516-5181 or Ricardo Noguera, economic development manager; (925) 516-5118.