Web-based Akamai acquires old Visa lot in San Mateo 

Visa may be everywhere you want to be, but since the financial-services brand left its corporate headquarters in San Mateo years ago, the commercial campus formerly known as San Mateo Executive Park has sat mostly vacant.

But no longer: The lot’s new owners have leased one of its six buildings to technology giant Akamai. The campus, on Clearview Way near the intersection of Highway 92 and West Hillsdale Boulevard, includes six buildings totaling 270,000 square feet, of which the Web content delivery firm will occupy 50,000 square feet, said Mike Sanford, senior vice president of Lowe Enterprises, the company investing $20 million into renovating the former Visa site.

Sanford said Lowe is fully modernizing the old buildings — adding stone and steel to the outside, full-length windows to the lobbies and updating plumbing and electrical wiring to support any kind of company.

Akamai Chief Financial Officer J.D. Sherman said the company already has offices in San Mateo, and when they started looking for space with more elbow room, they looked again to San Mateo.

"We’re almost doubling the amount of office space we have [in San Mateo] because we’re thinking about expanding beyond just this year or next year — it’s a seven-year lease," he said.

And more businesses are on the way, Sanford said. Online retailer CafePress.com also recently set up shop in 40,000 square feet of office space in the Bridgepointe area close to San Mateo’s waterfront and near the campus that will house Akamai.

City officials say the moves show the strength of the city’s market for office space, even while the nation dives into recession.

Though neither of the Web-based companies are likely to bring in sales tax for the city, both businesses will bring in revenue through their business tax certificates, said Laura Snideman, San Mateo’s economic development manager. Tax certificates make up about 4 percent of the city’s general fund, a figure that could go up if the city manages to attract more tech companies. She said as businesses open in the city, they bring benefits such as higher property values and more lunchtime restaurant and retail sales.

kworth@examiner.com

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