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HAYWARD, CA-Optisolar Inc. is in the process of reviewing its real estate needs. The locally based thin-film solar start-up last week announced it had let go 290 of its 612 employees and suspended the build-out of its 650,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Sacramento. The company, which has taken in approximately $300 million in equity investments to date, is reportedly trying to conserve cash while seeking additional finding, including a loan from the federal Department of Energy.

The company has three leaseholds in Hayward, at 31032 Huntwood Ave., 31023 Huntwood and 31172 Huntwood Ave. The first address, owned by Rreef, is its 80,000-square-foot headquarters and production facility, the second address is additional administrative space, the square footage and ownership of which was not immediately available, and the third address, owned by PNK LLC, is 60,000 square feet of expansion that the company committed to in the fall but has not yet occupied.Company spokesperson Alan Bernheimer tells GlobeSt.com the company is in the process of determining which spaces to let go and which spaces to keep. One of the leases, at 31023 Huntwood, is set to expire soon, he said. The company’s manufacturing plant in Sacramento, in leased space within McClellan Business Park, has been partially built out but its completion is being put off until the second half of 2009. The company has longer-term plans to expand the plant to 1 million square feet.The layoffs affect 185 Optisolar employees in Hayward and 105 people at the company’s Sacramento manufacturing facility. After the layoffs, the company will have about 247 employees in Hayward and an additional 75 in Sacramento.

The lease for the expansion space, which commenced in November, totals five years and approximately $2 million ($0.53 NNN per square foot per month on average). Optisolar reportedly took the building “as is” and received some free rent and a small TI allowance from PNK LLC. It planned to use the space for office and R&D.

The deal was a good one for PNK, which acquired the building in 2002. When the deal was signed, the building was fully leased to a roofing company that has since moved and a subsidiary of PNK which was scheduled to be out by the end of October. One of PNK’s leasing agents, Brady Thomas of Colliers International, told GlobeSt.com at the time that the only big lease deals being signed were by solar companies.

“If it weren’t for the solar companies there would be few deals of this magnitude getting done,” Thomas said. “They are the only companies growing; everyone else is buttoning up until they can figure out what’s going on with the economy.”

Optisolar was one of several solar companies that took down space in the Bay Area in 2008. In June, Innovalight Inc., a maker of thin-film solar panel modules leased 35,537 square feet of a 49,000-square-foot, two-story building within AMB Property Corp’s two-building, 85,454-sf Arques Business Park in Sunnyvale.

In April, SVTC Technologies, an independent semiconductor process-development foundry that is venturing into the solar market leased 85,000 sf in San Jose that will be used to provide solar panel manufacturers the same service it offers the semiconductor industry. The space is within Hellyer Oaks Technology Park, a two-building 353,000-sf complex owned by Golden Gate Real Estate. “We will be loading this building up with equipment that solar manufacturers need for their product development,” SVTC executive Kurt Laetz told GlobeSt.com at the time.

In March, Stion Corp, a manufacturer of thin-film solar technology signed a five-year lease that relocated its headquarters to San Jose. The company is expanding from 11,000 sf in Menlo Park to 65,000-sf in the Edenvale industrial area of South San Jose. In early 2007, Palo Alto, CA-based Nanosolar Inc. leased 90,000 sf of a 203,800-sf building at 5521 Hellyer Ave. that is owned by Mission West Properties.

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