Genentech is the largest of more than 200 biotech companies within South San Francisco, and accounts for more than 40% of the city’s total approximately 11.5 million square feet of biopharma building space. [South San Francisco Chamber of Commerce]

Genentech, a Member of the Roche Group, would double its workforce in South San Francisco, CA, the company’s home since 1978—and nearly double its lab space over the next 20+ years, under an expansion plan for its headquarters campus submitted to officials in the city that calls itself the “Birthplace of Biotechnology.”

The Master Plan envisions Genentech expanding its workforce from 15,000 to 30,000 workers—including employees, visiting scientists, consultants, and vendors—at its 207-acre campus adjacent to San Francisco Bay at aptly-named 1 DNA Way, and adding 1.6 million square feet of new labs to its existing 1.7 million square feet, according to a Master Plan Update presented at a recent Joint Special Meeting of South San Francisco’s City Council and Planning Commission.

Genentech spokesperson Heather Gloe told GEN that the company has no plans to double its employee base “or any specific plans related to employee growth.”

If we were to reach the full potential buildout outlined in the Master Plan update over the next 20 years or more, we would theoretically have space for an additional 12,000 people working on campus.”

At full buildout, Genentech stated in the Master Plan, employment at the campus would increase by up to 12,550 employees, in addition to consultants, service workers, and visitors.

According to the update, Genentech is the largest of more than 200 biotech companies within South San Francisco —and accounts for more than 40% of the city’s total approximately 11.5 million square feet of biopharma building space.

The additional lab space, plus a more-than-doubling of office space from 2.4 million to 4 million square feet—would nearly double the developed footprint of Genentech’s campus to 9 million square feet of total building space, from the current 4.7 million square feet of lab, office, and manufacturing space.

“We are seeking long-term opportunity for development within our existing campus footprint, in line with zoning regulations, as determined by future business need,” Gloe said.

She added that there are no specific development proposals associated with the Master Plan Update: “We may never reach the total potential buildout.”

“Committed to South San Francisco”

Carla Boragno, Genentech SVP and global head of engineering and facilities, pharma technical operations.

Genentech was established in San Francisco in 1976, and moved to “South City” two years later.

“Looking to the future, we remain committed to South San Francisco and to continuing our journey here as an engaged and valued corporate partner,” Carla Boragno, Genentech SVP and global head of engineering and facilities, pharma technical operations, stated in the Executive Summary of Genentech’s Campus Master Plan.

Genentech’s current 1.3 million square feet of manufacturing space “is expected to be retained but not substantially expanded, and potential redesign or reconfiguration of this net manufacturing space may occur as part of other future redevelopment efforts,” the company stated in its Campus Master Plan 2019: Public Review Draft, submitted to South San Francisco officials. “Genentech will continue to rely on existing on-campus manufacturing services, in particular, those manufacturing facilities that are closely related to critical R&D functions.”

The Public Review Draft did not pinpoint the location, size, or design of individual buildings to be built: “Because of the long-range nature of the Master Plan Update, flexibility during implementation is essential.”

Genentech is seeking city approval for faster, more flexible land-use reviews “to reflect the quickly changing needs of a research and development-focused corporation.”

Added Boragno: “As we advance our mission of pursuing groundbreaking science to make innovative medicines for patients, we look forward to continuing our contributions to the local economy and community.”

Transportation, housing commitments

Those contributions, according to Genentech, include committing “a minimum of $250 million” for programs designed to address community needs in:

  • Local transportation—Genentech promised to self-impose a “Trip Cap” limiting the total number of vehicle trips arriving on campus each morning during peak commuting hours, with a target of no more than half of those trips being single-occupancy vehicles by the time the campus is fully built out. The company also promises “substantial additional investments” in its employee transit system, which includes buses, ferries, and vanpools.
  • Housing—the company said it will partner with a local nonprofit to foster development of “more ‘missing middle’ housing, such as accessory dwelling units and other neighborhood-scale affordable housing.”
  • Education—Genentech committed to continuing its South San Francisco Unified School District “Futurelab” STEM education program, plus funding additional grants toward Next Generation Science Standards curricula and teacher support across all K–12 sciences.

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