CUPERTINO, CA-Apple CEO Steve Jobs surprised city officials here earlier this week with news that the iconic company has acquired nine contiguous parcels totaling 50 acres in town for the development of a second major campus in the city. The goal is to bring together some 3,000 employees that are spread among dozens of off-campus buildings in town because they do not fit onto its existing one-million-sf headquarters campus.

“We started Apple in my parent’s garage 30 years ago this month–we started on April Fool’s Day–and after about a year we moved to Cupertino, and have been here ever since,” he told the City Council. “What’s happened at Apple is our business has basically tripled in the last five or six years–from $6 billion in sales to $20 billion in sales basically—and what that has meant is our headcount in Cupertino has dramatically expanded.”

In response, Jobs said the company “rented every scrap of building we could find” in the city, but “we keep getting further and further away from our (headquarters) campus and the whole situation is inconvenient and frustrating for people.” As a result, he said the company decided “many months ago” that a new campus was necessary, “but we didn’t think we could do it in Cupertino.

“But after looking at a lot of things, we found something in Cupertino. It’s a lot more expensive, but it was something where we could stay in the area we like best, so we’ve actually gone ahead and acquired this property—actually nine separate properties—and by putting these together we can make approximately a 50-acre campus and put 3,000 to 3,500 people on it.”

The acreage, which abuts Pruneridge and Tantau avenues, is located across Interstate 280 from its existing headquarters. Based on the number of people Jobs expects to occupy the new campus and a common ratio of 250- to 300 sf per person, the built space on the campus could range from 750,000 sf to 1.05 million sf.

The design process will begin in about three months. The development process is expected to take three or four years. Jobs told the council he didn’t expect to find enough land in Cupertino for the project, and mentioned more than once that the company a lot more than it would have elsewhere.

“So we are pretty excited; we found something very unexpected,” he said. “Since we are your largest taxpayer, we thought you might be happy about that.”

The parcels were acquired anonymously so as not to drive up the total purchase price, according to one city official. The company is believed to have employed Houston-based Hines Interests LP, a commercial real estate developer that specializes in site selection, rezoning, design, financing and construction management. A Hines official declined comment.

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