Gilead moves ahead with Foster City expansion plan 

Foster City officials are excited by the prospects of Gilead Sciences expanding its facilities, and say they have a plan to keep down traffic.

City Councilman Art Kiesel called Gilead’s expansion a “real good thing for Foster City.”

“The property values are going to go up and ... property tax is going to go up,” he said. “We’re going to have to deal with the traffic issue.”

Last week, the Foster City Planning Commission approved a use permit for Gilead Sciences’ new laboratory, the first of some 16 buildings the biotech giant intends to replace with larger structures as the company adds employees over the next 15 years.

The four-story, 190,000-square-foot lab located in Vintage Park will replace two existing office buildings that have a combined size of about 70,000 square feet.

The lab will be the first step in realizing Gilead’s general development plan and development agreement, which the city approved last year. Those plans laid out a doubling of the square footage the company is permitted to develop on its 40-acre site. “[The lab is] an example of what may come in the future with other projects,” said Kirk C. Syme of Woodstock Development, which is coordinating Gilead’s expansion projects.

“What we’re doing is building new buildings on the same building pads of old buildings,” said Syme. Syme said he did not know the cost of the lab or of Gilead’s planned development, designed by DGA Architects.

The plan — which includes closure of part of Lakeside Drive to traffic — has raised concerns in the City Council and among nearby residents about increased traffic.

Syme said the company will be making “significant traffic improvements” for Foster City.

Although details were not available from Foster City planning officials, reports in March 2010 said Gilead would provide $1 million to Foster City for roadimprovements. Among other upgrades, expanding the onramp to westbound Highway 92 and the auxiliary lane that runs between Foster City Blvd. onramp and Edgewater/Mariner’s Island off-ramp would “resolve” the traffic issue, said city manager Jim Hardy.

Gilead spokesman Nathan Kaiser declined to provide an artist’s rendering of the proposed laboratory.

“I can say we are pleased that the Planning Commission approved plans for our new research building and will provide further updates as this project moves forward,” Kaiser said in an email.

nkyriakou@sfexaminer.com

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