Real Estate Deals: New lease brings Twitter to the East Bay

This article appeared originally on San Francisco Business Times.

Editor's note: The Business Times named the Twitter lease as its Game-changer Award in our Real Estate Deals of 2021 program.

Yet just a few months later, the social media giant started kicking the tires of office space in the East Bay office, a process that culminated in September’s lease at 1330 Broadway in Oakland.

It was arguably even more important to Oakland, validating its appeal to a name-brand tech tenant at a time when Covid-19 was still ravaging the office market.

Elaine Wolfe, director of global leasing and planning and a key force behind the company’s choice of Oakland, says it was the vibrant Uptown neighborhood that turned Twitter’s head, with its restaurants, coffee shops and culture.

”It’s very central,” she said. “The location right in Oakland was spectacular, just steps from BART.”

Twitter is joining the companies that see Oakland’s central-Bay Area location as convenient for their East Bay employees eager to cut down on commute times. Wolfe doesn’t see remote work vs. office as polar opposites — more like different points on a spectrum. While all of Twitter’s employees remain free to be fully remote, she said others prefer working in a more convivial and amenity-rich atmosphere, have too many distractions at home to concentrate or have jobs where collaboration with colleagues is at a premium, whether that’s five days a week or an occasional hour here and there.

“It’s available to any employee who wants to work there,” she said. “We surveyed our Bay Area ‘tweeps’ — we wanted to get a pulse on if there was demand” for an Oakland office, “and there was.”

The office is being designed with the era of remote and flexible work in mind, with plenty of collaboration spaces intended to foster informal and spontaneous connections, plus some designated quiet spaces employees can retreat to when needed.

Wolfe said the company hasn’t set a targeted number of employees who will work from the Oakland office all or some days. Using usual tech metrics for space per person, it could accommodate 300 or more.

The deal was also a feather in the cap for major Bay Area landlord TMG Partners, which was — as it has previously acknowledged —slower than some others to see the appeal of Oakland. The building adjacent to the 12th Street BART was TMG’s first Oakland acquisition. It bought the building in 2015, giving it a top-to-bottom renovation before leasing it up and selling a controlling interest to investor KKR in 2018.

Now it’s a believer, having moved on to far bigger Oakland projects: 300 Lakeside Drive, where it acquired about 1 million square feet that it is preparing as the future headquarters of PG&E, and Telegraph Tower, the 28-story, 875,000-square-foot high-rise it plans downtown.

The deal

Address: 1330 Broadway, Oakland
Size: 66,000 square feet across top four floors
Tenant: Twitter
Landlord: KKR and TMG Partners
Tenant reps: Christina Clark and Matt Lehman of Cresa
Landlord rep: John Dolby of Cushman & Wakefield