Breaking: Berkeley Lab chooses Richmond for 2nd campus

Design for the Richmond Field Station Lab campus

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has selected Richmond as the site for its second campus. The Lab annnounced the news this morning on its website, saying the University of California-owned Richmond Field Station site “presents the best opportunity to solve the Lab’s pressing space problems while allowing for long term growth and maintaining the 80-year tradition of close cooperation with the UC Berkeley Campus.”

Three Berkeley-connected sites were on a shortlist of six for the campus. They were: Berkeley Aquatic Park West, located in West Berkeley; Emeryville/Berkeley, (which included properties currently occupied by the Lab in Emeryville and West Berkeley); and Golden Gate Fields, spanning the cities of Berkeley and Albany.

The Lab had originally said it would announce its decision in November 2011, but revised that to “early in 2012” in late November, saying it needed more time to fully evaluate its options.

“Each city, community, and their developer partners presented extremely thoughtful and well-formulated proposals for us to consider, for which we are deeply grateful,” Berkeley Lab Director’s Paul Alivisatos said in the release.

“The communities of Albany, Alameda, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland and Richmond have been true partners in this process. While we can only pick one site, we hope that the new relationships we’ve made will continue to help us foster excitement in science. The enthusiasm is wonderful affirmation of the desire of the entire East Bay to be part of developing scientific solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing our society.”

Berkeleyside will provide updates on this story as it develops.

Berkeley Lab second campus decision delayed into 2012 [11.22.11] 
Berkeley Lab holds meeting for Emeryville/Berkeley site [08.09.11]
Live from Berkeley Lab’s Aquatic Park West meeting [08.04.11]
Live from Berkeley Lab’s Golden Gate Fields meeting [08.03.11] 
Berkeley sites for Lab’s second campus in spotlight [08.03.11]
Berkeley bids for Lab’s second campus fly under radar [07.15.11]

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  • Bruce Love

    One implication is that Berkeley will supposedly eventually lose the Berkeley West Biocenter on Potter Street.  That is one of the facilities slated to be consolidated into the RFS site.

  • Alan Tobey

    All the more reason for Berkeley to conclude and implement its much-delayed West Berkeley Plan, which among other things will encourage a technology cluster that will be very complementary with the bioscience-oriented focus of LBNL’s second campus.

  • Bruce Love

    That’s the rarely questioned urban myth, Alan, you recite it well.

    Note that you’re violating Vivek Wadhwa’s rule #1 as reported here:

    What the position you advocate *does* do is it helps to entrench the UC and City powers that have brought us to our current state.   You’re basically reciting their “just trust us” line.

  • Anonymous

    I see what you did there, Bruce. What would Berkeleyside be without your sophistry?

    “…venture capitalists delude themselves that they can pick which technologies and companies will win” [emphasis added]

    Notice Wadhwa’s use of the word which. He is in fact saying that one should focus on technological innovation in general rather than picking a particular field or industry.

    “He advocates opening the doors wide.”

    Just as Wadhwa suggested, the West Berkeley Plan is about allowing research and development uses in general, not about picking what research or development takes place. If anything, the new West Berkeley Plan is still too restrictive. As things currently stand, the City of Berkeley has long insisted on picking a loser: manufacturing. The West Berkeley Plan would continue to allow manufacturing but but would also open West Berkeley to new uses so that industry and the free market may pick the economic winners and losers, and provide Berkeley with new jobs and revenue in the process.

  • Bruce Love

    Eric, you advocate for weakening use restrictions in order to have manufacturing compete against other uses.

    You fail to acknowledge that manufacturing is increasingly competing not against another *use* but against *developers*.   There is a serious source of market failures around how development financing works.     If the housing bubble burst of 2008 should teach you anything at all, it’s that development is easily gamed and does not in and of itself equate with economic growth.  

  • Charles_Siegel

    Sounds to me like Bruce is “picking the winner” by saying that he wants the city to support manufacturing, not tech.

    Vivek’s rule number 1 says:

    Don’t pick winners. Wadhwa said venture capitalists
    delude themselves that they can pick which technologies and companies
    will win. Their record in fact is poor. He advocates opening the doors
    wide because there is no way of knowing what will succeed and what will

    Bruce seems to be advising Berkeley to close its doors  to developers, tech businesses, etc. in order to protect manufacturing.

    Vivek says just the opposite: “open the doors wide.” 

  • Well, it’s not much of a surprise.

    Bruce/Tom/Whatever was making the same tortured arguments almost exactly a year ago today:

    At least now that the community knows who he is.

    (this comment has been moderated)

  • Bruce Love

    Charles, no.   I am not “picking a winner” I’m rejecting a loser:  Abrupt and sweeping West Berkeley zoning changes to favor development of “flex space” — an already and increasingly over-supplied category in the Bay Area and nationally.  The LBNL announcement already implies a loss of tenancy in that category.   Meanwhile, for the ordinary offices that most high-tech start-ups need?   Berkeley’s got lots and lots of vacancies already.

    When the madness of LBNL-expands-to-west-berkeley and spin-off-startups-save-us took root in Berkeley’s city planning — that was during the housing bubble.  That was during the time when LBNL was flying high on false promises of imminent big breakthroughs in energy research.   That was the same bureaucratic and planning mentality that at a national level obliviously gave us the Solyndra fiasco  (including overlapping movers and shakers making this mistake happen). 

    The invariant of all that pie-in-the-sky magical thinking about “high tech” and “capturing LBNL spin-offs” is that it has always played out to favor developers in Berkeley who can make bank without needing any serious stake in the overall impact on economic development for the city.   It’s a scam.   It appeals to Berkeley’s cultural self-image as being exceptionally smart but in the end, it relies on how many in Berkeley uncritically rely on a few authorities.  The net result is that a few developers make bank and the city at large pays.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Solyndra?  Is the city going to fund some of these developers?

    As far as I have heard, the city is just loosening zoning to “open the door” to  them. 

    If there is really no call for new space for tech startups, if it is really overbuilt (as you claim), then developers should be smart enough not to build more of it, and manufacturing will continue to use that land.  

  • Bruce Love

    Charles, yes, the city winds up subsidizing these developers as when making deals to give UC more land, making tax concessions, and so forth.

    Developers don’t have reliable incentive to build projects that lack sustainable demand.   Developers and development financiers most often make their money on the front-end — as the recently collapsing real estate bubble  amply illustrates.  They can leave behind a blighted ruins and still make bank.