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Google breaks ground on second Kirkland building
Google is booming.
The Internet giant has long outgrown its garage workspace that it occupied in California during its modest beginnings - exactly 15 years ago.
And as the company marked its anniversary this week with now-unparalleled growth, Google officials also celebrated another milestone in Kirkland on Thursday morning. The company broke ground on a second building that will double the size of what is already Google’s third-largest engineering center in the country.
Holding shovels with Google’s colors - blue, red, green and yellow - Kirkland dignitaries joined Google officials, elected representatives and SRM Development for a ceremonial groundbreaking.
“We have a lot of innovation happening here,” said U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene. “The fact that Google is expanding here highlights the area and the great talent we have here.”
Chee Chew, the director of Google’s Kirkland campus, said the groundbreaking was “a clear sign of how happy we are with our investment in this state.” That investment is $3.5 billion in Washington businesses, website publishers and nonprofits, DelBene added.
The new two-story, 180,000-square-foot building is set for completion in the spring of 2015. It will be placed at the formerly contaminated 5-acre Pace National Corporation site, adjacent to the current location at 747 Sixth St. South.
The current 195,000-square-foot campus employs more than 1,000 people and the company expects to hire about 1,000 more.
Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride said the city is “proud to be home to progressive businesses like Google.”
She said Google works with 57,000 small businesses throughout the state to help build their capacity on issues such as web presence.
The company is also a “great charitable partner” and has given $4.5 million in grants throughout the region for programs in engineering research, McBride said.
But the company has also impacted the Kirkland community, including recent volunteer work with neighbors on the Cross Kirkland Corridor.
“Without Google’s support, I’m not sure we would’ve been able to get the enthusiasm and wherewithal to purchase the corridor,” she said.
But all the praise during the event didn’t come without some initial criticism from nearby residents.
Greg Brodd, who lives in Kirkland’s Everest neighborhood near the Google campus, said he was concerned about the project’s traffic impact.
“It’s already hard to get in and out of 9th [Avenue South],” said Brodd during the event.
Anna Rising, chair of the Everest Neighborhood Association, said neighbors expressed concerns to the council and to SRM Development regarding the expansion project.
“The project is being built in Moss Bay, but traffic will be exiting in Everest,” she said. “We’re very worried how that is going to add to congestion.”
However, she said after working with SRM Development, they plan to install a traffic light and crosswalk on 9th Avenue South to help mitigate traffic.
“SRM has been very responsive and showed they care what we have to say,” Rising said.
During the event, Dave Tomson, the development manager of SRM, thanked the Moss Bay, Everest and Houghton neighborhoods.
“We appreciate your patience as we get through this process,” Tomson said. “We said all along we would be a good neighbor and we are listening.”
He noted though the new building will be longer than two football fields, its environmental footprint will be much smaller.
The project is on track to achieving a LEED Platinum certification, and Tomson noted there are only a handful of projects that have earned this certification in the state.
The project will have a 500,000 gallon system, designed for the Pacific Northwest, which will collect rain water that will be used to flush toilets and for irrigation.
In addition, it will have 41 percent energy efficiency, Tomson said.