Genentech wins approval for large headquarters growth in South San Francisco

South San Francisco has given biotechnology the go-ahead to continue booming.

On Tuesday evening, the city council approved Genentech’s massive expansion plan to nearly double the headquarters’ campus by adding it to 4.3 million square feet over 15 years. The long-term plan, one of the Bay Area’s largest real estate projects, is a sign that the biotech industry will remain an area of ​​growth for a coronavirus-torn regional economy.

“It’s been a fantastic partnership and this master plan literally gives us the flexibility and space to ensure we continue to have the positive impact we have on the local community,” said Genentech CEO Alexander Hardy said in an interview before the vote.

Individual new buildings require future permits and there are no plans for immediate expansion, Hardy said. New buildings would be constructed on the company’s existing 207 hectare campus to replace parking lots or older buildings.

The company employs around 15,000 people, 10,000 of them in the Bay Area. About half have worked remotely, but many workers continue to go to laboratories, Hardy said. The company has around 700 vacancies.

“We really have a phenomenal campus. It’s such an important part of Genentech, ”he said. “Although remote working has increased, the campus will remain a really important part of Genentech’s future.”

South San Francisco city councils watch a presentation Tuesday on Genentech’s 15-year expansion plan, which they later approved.

South San Francisco

Genentech is working on 10 drugs that could potentially treat COVID-19, including Actemra. It has partnered with Regeneron to make the antibody cocktail of casirivimab and imdevimab, drugs that President Trump was given to treat his coronavirus.

Founded in 1976, Genentech pioneered the use of DNA technology to develop drugs – for example, the manufacture of synthetic insulin for the treatment of diabetes. The company is a subsidiary of the Swiss healthcare giant Roche.

As part of the expansion, Genentech will pay at least $ 30 million in city fees to fund affordable housing, and more than $ 30 million after construction is complete, and $ 15 million in transportation modernization fees. Fees include $ 1 million to finance residential units or small backyard houses managed by the nonprofit Hello Housing.

The plan was originally proposed in 2017 and required a full environmental assessment.

“This is the culmination of over three years of work,” said Mike Futrell, South San Francisco city manager, at the hearing on Tuesday.

Roland Li is a contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: roland.li@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @rolandlisf

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