The San Rafael City Council this week voted unanimously to clear the way for BioMarin’s expansion.
Numerous community members, business leaders and members of local carpenter unions stepped forward Monday night to encourage council members to approve the expansion, which includes a four-story office building and a parking structure at the San Rafael Corporate Center.
“We’d like to see BioMarin stay in the North Bay,” said Christopher Stewart, CEO of the North Bay Life Science Alliance. “Their corporate center will contribute to the regional economy by about $375 million annually. The additional building you’re looking at will add about $60 million a year to that growing economy.”
Marin Builders Association CEO Rick Wells lauded BioMarin for hiring local companies for construction needs and the head of the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce, Joanne Webster, said the city is honored the biotech leader calls the city home.
Council members approved the addition of the 54-foot tall, 72,396-square-foot building at 755 Lindaro St., and the parking structure expansion at 788 Lincoln Ave., for the corporate center — which BioMarin purchased for $116.5 million in 2014. The council also approved a zoning amendment that removed the medical office use previously approved for the center in 2011.
The approval brings BioMarin’s expansion closer to the construction phase, which is planned to begin during the first half of 2016, said Debra Charlesworth, a spokeswoman for the company.
The office building and the parking structure addition — which include an increase of 256 parking stalls and 41 surface stalls — will be architecturally compatible with the corporate center campus.
Because the new office building will take over 64 surface parking spaces that are currently accessible to the public on weekends and after hours on weekdays, additional surface parking lots at the campus will be converted into public parking under the same terms, according to city staff. Parking at the campus is often used by the public for San Rafael Pacifics baseball games.
Because community members and the Planning Commission requested a wide pedestrian trail behind the parking garage, along with native plants in the area closest to Mahon Creek, 15 parking spaces slated for behind the garage have been put on hold, said Raffi Boloyan, the city’s planning manager.
“If it’s needed as parking, we’ll require them to put it in down the road,” Boloyan said.
Parking at the campus will be studied two and five years after project construction is completed, according to city staff.
Councilwoman Maribeth Bushey expressed concern that the public might not be able to easily find the new public parking slots, which are buried in the campus, but city officials said on- and off-site signs will be installed to point the way. The off-site signs will likely be placed along Second Street and near Albert Park where the Pacifics play, city officials said.
Charlesworth said BioMarin is thrilled to expand in San Rafael.
“BioMarin is a growing business focused on making medicine to help children and adults with rare genetic disease,” she said in a written statement. “We are committed to San Rafael and being a part of a thriving downtown community. We are thrilled that the city is supportive of our plans to expand, as we continue to work towards our mission of making a big difference for a small number of patients.”
Mayor Gary Phillips shared the sentiment.
“We’re looking forward to this step and others as we progress,” Phillips said.