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  • Writer's pictureVannesa Vasquez

PUP Picks- Revitalizing Bay Area Business: Rakuten's San Francisco Move and San Jose's Orchard Rise

The Orchard: A New Dawn for Downtown San Jose's SoFA District

Downtown San Jose is set to witness a transformative development with the planned construction of The Orchard housing tower, breathing new life into the SoFA district, a hub for arts, entertainment, and nightlife. This ambitious project is a collaborative effort between Vancouver's Westbank and San Jose's Urban Community, aiming to repurpose the site of the erstwhile Bo Town restaurant into a beacon of urban renewal and modern living.

Announced by Gary Dillabough of Urban Community at a San Jose Rotary Club event, The Orchard at 409 South Second Street is designed to be more than just a housing solution. It represents a vision for future urban living in Silicon Valley, offering 540 residential units to help meet the Bay Area's pressing housing needs. The project, approved by the San Jose City Council in late 2022, is poised to become a significant construction endeavor in the city.

Spanning over 600,000 square feet, The Orchard is planned as a mixed-use building, featuring commercial space on the ground floor alongside a diverse range of residential options, including studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom apartments. Residents will enjoy amenities such as a courtyard, rooftop terrace, pool, outdoor kitchen, and a unique Westbank Bicycle Club, among others.

Set to kick off in the first half of 2024, The Orchard is not just a testament to the potential for revitalization in downtown San Jose but also a part of a larger vision by Westbank, which includes reimagining iconic buildings and converting commercial spaces to residential use. Its proximity to San Jose State University, cultural institutions, and entertainment options underscores its significance in enhancing the urban fabric of the SoFA district.

Courtesy of Paramount Group

Rakuten Group Sparks New Subleasing Wave in San Francisco's South Financial District

In a significant move reflecting the dynamic shifts in office space utilization post-pandemic, the Japanese tech giant Rakuten Group has inaugurated a new office in San Francisco’s South Financial District, occupying 29,000 square feet of space previously leased by Glassdoor. This development, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, marks an expansion of Rakuten’s footprint in the Bay Area, complementing its existing regional headquarters in San Mateo and another office in the city.

Glassdoor's original lease in 2019 for nearly 60,000 square feet at 300 Mission St. was intended to consolidate its operations from Mill Valley to San Francisco. However, the pandemic led to a reevaluation of space needs, resulting in Glassdoor offering a substantial portion for sublease. Rakuten’s new office is strategically located on the 18th floor of a 24-story tower, enhancing its presence in a prime location directly across from Salesforce Transit Center and near the Embarcadero BART station.

The building, a project by Paramount Group, is distinguished by its design from Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, featuring high ceilings and a column-free layout that fosters an open and collaborative workspace. Rakuten’s choice to move into this space is part of a larger trend towards flexible and cost-efficient office solutions, which has seen San Francisco’s office vacancy rates soar to 35.9 percent by the end of 2023.

This move by Rakuten is not isolated, as other tech companies like Hive AI have also recently entered into sublease agreements within the South Financial District, indicating a growing preference for such arrangements in the city's evolving corporate landscape. Rakuten's new setup is poised to offer a more cohesive and efficient environment for its 550 Bay Area employees, underlining the company’s adaptation to the changing work culture and its commitment to fostering innovation and collaboration in the heart of San Francisco.


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