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The Irvine Company rounds out Silicon Valley with Santa Clara Square Project

The state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is helping set the stage for the makeover of a large swath of property near California’s Great America in Santa Clara.

The Irvine Company has staked out a large footprint near Highway 101 and Great America Parkway for a modern master-planned project called Santa Clara Square. The Irvine Company (opens new window) calls it “. . . a 100-acre sustainable community of office workplaces, specialty shopping, apartments and a vibrant main street.”  Santa Clara is the heart of Silicon Valley, and is one of the hottest real estate markets in the nation. Innovation abounds, and The Irvine Company’s design reflects that.

It involves melding three separate sites into a single mosaic. “I am pleased to be involved in this fast-track project that is centrally located in the most thriving and innovative area of Silicon Valley,” DTSC Project Manager Jayantha Randeni said, noting that the Department “worked on an accelerated schedule” to help the developer meet certain deadlines.

This Silicon Valley Business Journal (opens new window) story describes how The Irvine Company assembled property to provide the template for Santa Clara Square. As the company reconfigures and redevelops the property, it also is cleaning up arsenic, lead and pesticides – remnants of its agriculture heritage.

Orchards dotted the landscape from the 1930s until industrial and office buildings supplanted them in the 1970s. As construction progresses, DTSC is overseeing the cleanup of the legacy pesticides – ensuring protection of the environment and community.

DTSC was there (opens new window) when the 16-acre Technology Campus project started in early 2014. More than 50,000 cubic yards of impacted soil was excavated and either hauled offsite or entombed under the new parking garage. Three new office buildings totaling over 600,000 square feet are near completion.

DTSC’s oversight continues as the ambitious project progresses. A public comment period runs until June 12, 2015, in connection with a draft cleanup plan (opens new window) to accommodate five proposed new office buildings totaling 1 million square feet, and a series of parking garages and lots, on 22 acres. The proposed cleanup plan calls for excavating and consolidating up to 63,000 cubic yards of soil beneath paved parking lots, buildings or, in landscaped areas, beneath two feet of new soil. Encapsulation is a common cleanup method.

In addition, DTSC is involved with the retail phase of the project – 125,000 square feet of shops on 14 acres that is being redeveloped in two phases. The old buildings are gone, and Whole Foods has already signed a lease in anticipation of a 2016 debut. Chemicals connected to old pesticide use and oil from a hydraulic oil spill in 2005 are being cleaned up to clear the way for the new buildings. Much of the excavated soil is being buried under new structures, according to the response plan (opens new window). 

Santa Clara Square is an ambitious development – This Jan. 23, 2015, story in the San Jose Mercury News (opens new window) has more on it – but it isn’t the only large-scale project that DTSC is involved with. The Department is helping bring jobs back to Alameda County, supervising the cleanup of a potential new NFL stadium and is playing a role in the construction of a new basketball arena and railyard development in Sacramento.

These efforts go to the heart of DTSC’s mission: Protecting the environment, keeping people safe and turning brownfields green.