Tracy pins economic hopes on 1980’s-style office park

I don’t usually discuss the goings on in other cities, but a recent story from Tracy caught my eye. Last week, city officials triumphantly announced the approval of a project on the city’s western edge. This 1,796 acre project, situated off of a highly visible stretch of I-205, could bring “tens of thousands of jobs” to Tracy and the greater metro area. Mayor Brent Ives referred to the project as a “game changer,” with the hopes of wooing tech companies away from Silicon Valley. This all sounds like fantastic news, so what kind of intrepid, forward thinking kind of development is Tracy banking on?

An office park.

I hate to be a buzzkill, but the excitement of this announcement is overblown for a number of reasons. Fancy new office parks in the region have not done very well in recent memory, and high-quality tech jobs do not want to be in office parks. To be fair, I don’t know very much about the specifics of this project—dubbed Cordes Ranch– or Tracy in general. What I do know is that these types of single-zoned suburban office parks are typically not the economic game-changers that Tracy officials are hoping for. Here’s why:

Office parks are not the economic powerhouses they once were (photo c/o Wes Janz onesmallproject.flickr)

Office parks are not the economic powerhouses they once were (photo c/o Wes Janz onesmallproject.flickr)

If Cordes Ranch was built 30 or 40 years ago, this would have been a marvelous economic development plan for Tracy. Back then, businesses flocked to office parks to take advantage of cheaper land and proximity to their workforce. These suburban locations provided the amenities that workers back then wanted: ample roads and parking spots for their cars and spacious yards for their families. Unfortunately for Tracy, today’s workers are much different, and companies are adjusting their locations accordingly.

As I have written several times, tech companies want to be where the best and brightest want to live. Increasingly, these workers prefer walkable, urban communities that are accessible by more than just cars. Today’s young, educated workforce doesn’t want suburban homes and they don’t want to work in office parks. As one official explained in the new book The Metropolitan Revolution, “The current generation of tech workers doesn’t want to toil in the soulless Office Space complexes surrounded by moats of parking that dot [the office parks’] sprawling vastness.”

This is not just theory, either. The dwindling relevance of the American office park is well-documented. According to the Wall Street Journal, suburban office parks continue to empty as downtown office space remains stable.

“The national office vacancy rate in downtowns was 14.9% at the end of the third quarter, the same level as in early 2005—while the suburban vacancy rate hit 19%, 2.3 percentage points higher than in 2005, according to data firm Reis Inc.

In the first three quarters of this year, businesses in the suburbs vacated a net 16 million square feet of occupied office space—nearly 280 football fields—while downtowns have stabilized, losing just 119,000 square feet.”

And this was in 2010. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to confirm that this trend is still valid. See this story, and this one. And here’s one more, just to be sure. In fact, to stave off extinction, many older suburban office parks are attempting to reinvent themselves by incorporating mixed-use elements. It remains to be seen if this tactic will be successful.

Cordes Ranch is exactly the kind of environment that repels high-skill jobs. From what I can tell from the site plan, the project consists of low-density commercial and industrial with some retail sprinkled in (Tracy’s General Plan looks like there is an area zoned “village center” near the northeast corner of the project, but The Record reports that no residential is including in the specific Cordes Ranch plan). There is also a large amount of space dedicated to parks, which is nice, but doesn’t make up for the fact that Cordes Ranch is a typical office park at heart.

On top of that, suburban office projects continue to languish in the region. Why does Tracy think Cordes Ranch will somehow succeed where others have failed? Take Park West Place in Stockton. Billed much the same as Cordes Ranch, PWP was supposed to be the premier retail and commercial center of the area. Today, the AG Spanos building sits around a woeful 70% occupancy space, and the retail options are your mediocre Wal-Marts, Lowes and Targets.

Moreover, Cordes Ranch is located near another mega-project by the same developer: the 100 acre Mountain House Business Park. Both Pegasus Development projects appears to be of the same variety, offering class-A office space, some retail and lovely park and open space. But this begs the question: how much office space does west San Joaquin County need? It appears to me that both Cordes Ranch and Mountain House Business Park would be in direct competition with one another.

Again, I don’t know all the details about these projects, and they very well could end up being successful, and for the sake of our neighbors to the west, I hope they are. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that the economic boost envisioned by city leaders in Tracy will come to fruition. These types of office park projects coveted by local officials signal a misunderstanding of the how tech and start up industries think.

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Categories: Community Commentary

Author:David A. Garcia

David A. Garcia founded SCL in March of 2012. He holds degrees from UCLA as well as Johns Hopkins University and currently works as the Chief Operating Officer at Ten Space in Downtown Stockton, and previously worked as a researcher/analyst for a congressional agency in Washington DC. The views expressed here are solely of the author.

24 Comments on “Tracy pins economic hopes on 1980’s-style office park”

  1. Jon Seisa
    September 24, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    For that vast open space, and based off current design trends and strategies in the high-tech sector, the design will most likely take its cues more along the lines of a campus-like “high-tech knowledge park/hub” strategic design plan. I’m pretty sure they will do this approach, instead of the outdated and rudimentary business park, particularly since the potential Silicon Valley clients would only be enticed via specific and required criteria amenities and lifestyle attributes that the project will need to incorporate for the profile of their personnel’s proclivities, needs and tastes, i.e. community courtyards, plazas, walkability, greenbelt bike/skateboard trails, groves/parks, food courts, recreational facilities, reading oasis, gym, bike paths, tennis courts, retail/restaurants, post office, reprographics, ponds, fountains, running brooks, and so on. Plus, there is now a big rivalry amongst the big tech giants to up the ante on their corporate headquarters’ environmental identity with new cutting edge architectural designs, i.e. Facebook’s “Hacker Campus”, Apple’s “Spaceship”, Amazon’s “Biosphere” and Google’s “Googleplex” that completely reinvent the once dreary office space.

    Frankly, as I’ve said before, I think Stockton would be extremely wise not to miss the boat and to investigate and adopt a major master plan to do the same as Tracy to tap a presence in the Silicon Valley connection and somehow incorporate a “technopolis” knowledge park within its jurisdiction to establish itself as a satellite to Silicon Valley and attract the extremely profitable high-tech industry, institutes, tech labs, etc., and attract that younger highly educated and cultural demographic citizenry with high disposable income that will regenerate the city and drastically expand and strengthen Stockton’s economic base. Boise, Austin, Portland and other cities have successfully done so, and they are not in such close logistic proximity to Silicon Valley as Stockton advantageously is.

    I also can see how the region west of I-5, south of French Camp Road, east of the San Joaquin River and north of Lathrop’s city limits is the ideal location for a 5,280 acres (5.25 sq. miles) master planned technopolis living community with an integrated design of a web of new university complexes, research institutes, tech labs, knowledge forums, cyber-centers, inter-fusion tech centers, international tech expo center, pavilions, tech and patent library, IP legal center, financial center, global tech commerce plaza, and a plethora of other support amenities from parks, lakes, hotels, agoras, golf parks, a riverwalk, amphitheater, retail/restaurants, entertainment and cultural plazas to high density housing. (This 5,280 acre technopolis already exists in my “STOCKTONTOPIA: Re-Envisioning the Delta City”—- and I named it “EL DORADO BAY” Technopolis: “Where the Future is Golden”.)

    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Silicon-Valley-2-0-High-tech-hub-bets-on-2506602.php

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2331658/Facebooks-hacker-campus-Apples-spaceship-Googles-new-Googleplex-Amazons-Biosphere-battle-hi-tech-offices.html

    • September 24, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

      No chance for a Technopolis here in Stockton.

      To put it very simply. High tech firms locate where the top management of such firms finds it convenient for their own commute. Plus you need top research universities for an area to flourish as a techno-candidate. And the high-tech bosses decide that; not cities or countries or employees of such firms.

      If a university such as UC Davis can’t get a technopolis in its milieu, Stockton does not even have a realistic chance. Neither does Lodi, Tracy, Manteca and elsewhere in SJC.

      BTW, as far as I know the Mountain House Business Park never took off the ground(1.7 million square feet of commercial). Plus there is another major project in Tracy called Tracy Hills which has an almost identical business plan as far as mix of commercial uses are concerned.

      Approving the zoning of such mega projects without concrete evidence of even meager market demand/acceptance raises a sanity concern about the local officials who approve such disjointed and demand unsupported exercises on paper.

      And they are usually done to cut off the oxygen of other cities/counties. Say, to deflate Patterson or cities in other counties. It’s actually more of an intimidation tactic which shows complete amateurism in both its conception and execution.

      • September 24, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

        A correction is due. The Tracy Hills project has been re-configured from a mostly commercial to a mostly residential project. Which goes to show you that the demand for office/logistics/warehousing space the Cordes Ranch is after might not be there after all. When large projects like Tracy Hills undergo radical re-designs it means that there was no forethought in the original concept place and someone is now compensating for it:

  2. Jon Seisa
    September 24, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    Well, I certainly wouldn’t be so discouraging. Anything is possible. Markets and possibilities can change in either direction and adroit strategic adjustments are made; this does not imply failure; it is called business.

    Institutes, like MIT, have established co-ops and new satellite campuses and other IT institutes, including international universities wanting a foothold in the U.S., like China and Israel, have penned collaborative deals to join forces with other entities in creating joint-optimizing new regional high-tech endeavors and new institutions in the high tech sector that never existed before and go far beyond regional tertiary institutes and create economies of scale. If Mexico (of all places) can establish a high tech knowledge park, then certainly Stockton/San Joaquin County can in its closer proximity to Silicon Valley. What Stockton lacks is merely strategic vision to conceive an ambitious, aggressive and long term projected plan to nurture a high-tech sector with field focus, incrementally.

    Producing patentable high-tech products and their related manufacturing, applications and export is the wave of the future in the new emergent Knowledge Economy that generates serious revenue and a heavy influx of investment into the local economy, not business as usual of merely growing and exporting standard consumption goods, like tomatoes and asparagus. Stockton is strategically primed to go beyond the usual and enter the high-agritech sector, and thus strategic collaboration with high-tech entities and multinational firms is highly key to position Stockton as a hub for agritech and/or biotech innovations that can exponentially magnify crop production, innovate hydroponic farming, establish breakthroughs in the alternative green energy revolution, or enter the worldwide probiotic innovative food market. This will be Stockton’s game-changer. It has to start somewhere, and that start is at the beginning and strategically phased outwardly towards high-yielding critical mass. Note that it’s Ireland’s high tech sector, envied by China, that has literally saved it from the brink of despair. It really is the modern game-changer.

    http://www.siliconrepublic.com/innovation/item/33294-irelands-future-as-a-food

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/20/us-ireland-china-idUSTRE81J16L20120220

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/8049212/The-hi-tech-miracle-rescuing-Ireland-from-a-banking-crisis.html

    http://www.mediacontact.ie/mediahq/ida/61399/ireland-wins-hi-tech-research-centre-investment-from-dutch-multinational-fugro-nv.html

    • September 24, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

      Jon:

      As far as I know Ireland has a below EU average business tax rate and the fact that it’s an English speaking country makes Ireland a favorite/major landing point for many US and international high tech industries.

      You mentioned China, Israel, US. These are sophisticated state level players who have elevated Game Theory to a new art. They know how to play the game well and maximize outcomes. With what players is Stockton perfecting its own game theory “win-win”?

      You mentioned hydroponic and we have plenty of water around here but where is the closest hydroponic farm?

      Having a great and visionary strategic plan is not enough. You need to know and practice to the maximum your comparative advantage. Which in our case is what exactly?

      You mentioned proximity. That’s not a comparative advantage rather a geographical reference. Comparative advantage is about outperforming and outclassing your competition.

      Yours is an attractive plan but the hard part is making it apply to the local condition. How are you going to do that?

      • Jon Seisa
        September 25, 2013 at 12:50 am #

        Hi Dean… Well, a lot of questions, which is better than none, I suppose. Let me try to address them. My comments will be in capitals between your comments in lowercase…

        As far as I know Ireland has a below EU average business tax rate and the fact that it’s an English speaking country makes Ireland a favorite/major landing point for many US and international high tech industries.

        TRUE, NO ARGUMENT THERE. AND I CERTAINLY CONCUR THAT THE STATE AND FEDERAL COULD DO MORE IN THE AREA OF TAX-FREE FOREIGN CORPORATE ZONES TO ATTRACT INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT, REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS AND SECONDARY OR TERTIARY FACILITIES (JOBS).

        You mentioned China, Israel, US. These are sophisticated state level players who have elevated Game Theory to a new art. They know how to play the game well and maximize outcomes. With what players is Stockton perfecting its own game theory “win-win”?

        I DON’T BELIEVE THE PLAYERS HAVE BEEN DETERMINED YET. BUT LOGIC SAYS STOCKTON HAS AT ITS INTERNATIONAL PORT THRESHOLD, LOOKING WEST, THE ENTIRE PACIFIC RIM AT ITS VERY DISPOSAL, FOR STARTERS. WHY THINK SMALL?

        You mentioned hydroponic and we have plenty of water around here but where is the closest hydroponic farm?

        THAT’S EXACTLY MY POINT. STOCKTON SITS ON THE VERY HEAD OF THE CALIFORNIA DELTA COMPLEX OF 1000 MILES OF AQUATIC WATERWAYS, A VIRTUAL “HYDRO-WORLD” RIGHT BEFORE OUR VERY EYES, AND YET WHERE ARE THE HYDROPONIC PONDS, GARDENS, FARMS, RESEARCH LABS AND HYDROTECH SCIENTIFIC INSTITUTES AND AQUATICALLY ORIENTED HIGH-TECH MANUFACTURERS OF NEW HYDROPONIC AND HYDRO-ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES? OR, WHERE ARE THE HYDRO-SAVVY, WATER-RECYCLABLE AND HYDROELECTRIC SUSTAINABLE PLANNED HIGH DENSITY LOFTS AND HOUSING LINING PICTURESQUE CANALS WITH WATER TAXIS? AND WHY ISN’T THERE A STATE-OF-THE-ART “CALIFORNIA DELTA AQUARIUM OF THE PACIFIC” SITTING ON THE DOWNTOWN STOCKTON CHANNEL WATERFRONT? THESE ARE ALL SEVERELY MISSED OPPORTUNITIES.

        Having a great and visionary strategic plan is not enough. You need to know and practice to the maximum your comparative advantage. Which in our case is what exactly?

        I WOULDN’T SAY COMPARITIVE ADVANTAGE. WHY PARALLEL THE COMPETION OR BE A FOLLOWER WHEN YOU CAN DEFINE A NEW TURF? IT’S BEST TO BE AN INNOVATOR WITH A DEMONSTRATIVELY UNIQUE AND NOVEL ADVANTAGE THAT SEPARATES ONE FROM THE PACK AND MEDIOCRITY. STOCKTON HAS UNIQUE QUALITIES THAT IT HAS NOT TAPPED ADVANTAGEOUSLY YET, IF AT ALL, OR LEVERAGED TO ITS GREAEST POTENTIAL, I.E. MY COMMENT ABOVE REGARDING THE DELTA AND HYDROPONIC TECHNOLOGY,AND SO ON. I’M SURE THERE ARE OTHER ATTRIBUTES AND ASSETS IF A MERE ASSESSMENT IS MADE. STOCKTON AS AN INNOVATIVE AGRITECH HUB COMES TO MIND, AS WELL AS POTENTIAL TO DEVELOP INTO A REGIONAL BIOMEDICAL NUCLEUS. AND THE ASPECT OF STOCKTON, “THE DELTA CITY”, AS A MAJOR WORLD PREMIER RESORT TOURIST DESTINATION FOR AQUATIC RECREATIONAL SPORTS AND LEISURE ON THE CHANNEL OR A SPECTACULARLY DEVELOPED RESORT GATEWAY BAY TO THE CALIFORNIA DELTA LINED WITH HOTEL-RESORT-SPAS, WORLD-CLASS GOLF COURSES, CASINOS, ENTERTAINMENT VENUES, AQUATICALLY THEMED ATTRACTIONS, A HOST OF EATERIES, FAMILY-FRIENDLY RECREATIONAL FUN, AND SO ON, ALL CREATING JOBS ON SO MANY LEVELS TO IMPROVE STOCKTONIANS’ STANDARD OF LIVING, EXPAND THE CITY’S ECONOMIC BASE AND INDUSTRY DIVERSITY, WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY REINVENTING ITS IDENTITY WITH GREAT INTEGRITY AS A HOSPITALITY CITY WITH THINGS TO DO… THIS HAS NOT EVEN BEEN CONCEIVED, LET ALONE TAPPED, ON ANY SIGNIFICANTLY PLANNED LEVEL (EXCEPT BY ME). INSTEAD, EACH YEAR MILLIONS FROM THE BAY AREA DRIVE RIGHT PAST STOCKTON TO LAKE TAHOE, AND MANY OTHERS DRIVE UP AND DOWN CALIFORNIA STRAIGHT PAST STOCKTON, NEVER STOPPING BUT FOR A TANK OF GAS AND PERHAPS A CHEESEBURGER… ANOTHER MISSED OPPORTUNITY, BECAUSE STOCKTON DID NOT LEVERAGE ITS INCREDIBLE NATURAL ASSET IN A DYNAMIC WAY, THE “GATEWAY TO THE DELTA”.

        You mentioned proximity. That’s not a comparative advantage rather a geographical reference. Comparative advantage is about outperforming and outclassing your competition.

        YES, BUT BEFORE YOU HAVE COMPETITION YOU HAVE TO ENTER THE RACE. RIGHT NOW STOCKTON IS SITTING ON THE SIDELINES, ON THE BENCH, IN A STATE OF COMPLETE INERTIA. HOW IS IT TO GAUGE THE COMPETION THAT WAY? THE TRUTH IS IT CANNOT. WHERE ARE STOCKTON’S DYNAMIC, INNOVATIVE AND VISIONARY 30-YEAR MASTER PLANS, BESIDES A MERE SINGULAR “COMPLETE STREET PLAN” THAT HAS ABSOLUTELY NO VISION OF WHAT WILL ACTUALLY OCCUPY THAT DISTRICT BESIDES THE TYPICAL AND ORDINARY MIXED/USE COMMERCIAL RETAIL AND HOUSING DENSIFICATION PRODUCING ONLY MODEST LOCALLY INSULATED ECONOMIC IMPACT? STOCKTON THINKS TOO SMALL; IT HAS TO MAKE A BIGGER MOVE, AND THEN GO FROM THERE.

        Yours is an attractive plan but the hard part is making it apply to the local condition. How are you going to do that?

        I WOULD SAY ITS VERY PRESENCE BECOMES APART OF THE LOCAL CONDITION; THAT’S HOW IT’S APPLIED. ACTIVATION OF THE SYNERGY OF INTERACTIVE COMPLEXITIES THEN ENSUES AND POSITIVE BENEFITS GO BEYOND THE PHYSICAL BOUNDARIES OF THE PLANNED COMMUNITY AND SPILL OVER INTO THE VASTER COMMUNITY AT LARGE, GENERATING A RADIATING ECONOMIC CONCENTRIC EFFECT.

      • September 25, 2013 at 6:47 am #

        Good rebuttal. I think we want the same thing but the devil is in the details.

        For starters Stockton needs to abolish its subsidy mentality which dictates that unless there is a subsidy of sorts Stockton remains risk averse.

      • Jon Seisa
        September 25, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

        Yes, very true Dean; the standard modus operandi of relying on behemoth tax burden and debt accruing loans/bonds is over, and new investment strategies are required.

        To advance Stockton into the future and attract new businesses, new industries, new institutes, a new intelligent work force, new city dwellers with a citizenry demographic profile and employment pool having higher education, higher income level and higher culturally groomed attributes, capital is required, investors and VCs, domestically, nationally and internationally. So where is Stockton’s overall “Strategic Marketing Plan”, an investment portfolio with comprehensive financing instruments, and featuring punctuating assets and mapped out possible asset-enhancing project proposals (high-intensity vision) that outside investors can examine that will target those potential investors to build the projects that will attract the needed citizenry who are a category of people who reinvest in the community, are self-starters, launch businesses, are selfless and philanthropic in nature, promoters of the cultural arts, spearhead charity events, donate to the community chest, set up charity and medical foundations, create new wealth, enhance and rehabilitate historical structures, launch new museums, campaign for a new world class cultural arts center or civic center, and so on? Everything is a steppingstone, but there needs to be a comprehensive strategic plan with vision and milestone dates.

        Well, at least Tracy is getting it right, they are targeting the high-tech sector and high-tech corporations with unlimited wealth, possessing an employee demographic base that meets all the above aforementioned. Stockton would be wise to take its cue from Tracy and grab a piece of the high-tech pie, because that’s really where it’s at. In the last decade, there are literally hundreds and hundreds (if not thousands) of new spin-off high-tech and internet small companies ranging from $250 to $50 million annual gross revenue spawned from out of Silicone Valley that have garner mind-boggling 3,000% to 10,000% growth rates in the last 3 years alone, from 2009 to 2012 period. Immediately, Stockton should swiftly sector off a big chunk of downtown on the waterfront and say, “HERE! This is our new High-Tech Cluster. We named it the ‘STOCKTON TECHNOCORE’. COME! INVEST! BUILD!” (And I’m not joking.) This is the type of high-intensity vision that should be in Stockton’s “Strategic Marketing Plan”.

      • September 26, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

        I hear you.

  3. Jon Seisa
    September 24, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    Well, I did some digging around and the strategy that Tracy is implementing is what I have said Stockton should be doing, positioning itself to become a connective Silicon Valley satellite and high-tech cluster, and Tracy has been engaged in the alignment and vision for a decade now and has developed an ambitious and aggressive 30-year master plan, all my same recommendations for Stockton. But logistically Tracy is the next logical steppingstone from Silicon Valley, and this is being driven by the Bay Area/Silicon Valley inflated housing and property market due to the high-tech industry’s success and creation of wealth and thousands of tech companies in the area.

    In addition, and after the coming next boon wave, Tracy is strategizing the establishment of a Bay Area university satellite campus (probably Stanford) to provide engineering and high-tech IT education. They’re thinking big and with longevity. They are forecasting themselves as not just an extension to Silicon Valley, but also a new haven for the next generation of homegrown tech startups in which one or more will become the next industrial global giant with roots exclusively in Tracy. This is a very savvy and dynamic strategy having vision, not pie in the sky, because the trendscoping they’ve done makes perfect sense and all indicators are pointing in the direction of Tracy, as I have advocated this for the Stockton/San Joaquin County area. This is what Stockton should really be doing, IMHO. I hate to say it, but I have a strong feeling Stockton will one day be a suburb of Tracy.

    Forbes featured an article on the Tracy high-tech vision: http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemalone/2013/06/05/silicon-valleys-newest-address-look-east/

    Dublin and Livermore, east of Tracy, are reaching saturated growth, and now the expansion is eyeing Tracy, over the hill.

    “Already, a number of giant tracts of open farmland around Tracy are being snapped up by major corporations and developers. Amazon.com has announced plans to open a major fulfillment facility; Restoration Hardware is expanding its existing facility. One thousand seven hundred other acres are also being developed for commercial use – for an estimated 31 million square feet of commercial space employing 37,000 workers. A similar expansion is underway on Tracy’s residential side. San Joaquin County chief deputy county administrator Harry S. Mavrogenes, estimates that 15,000 new homes are already in the works in and around Tracy – enough to nearly double the city’s population to 150,000. “These homes range from townhouses to executive homes in elegant private communities. Best of all, in terms of marketing Tracy as a place to live, housing prices drop 30 percent the moment you cross Altamont pass.” Indeed, it may be even a better deal than that, given that the average price of a Silicon Valley home jumped more than 20 percent in just the first three months of 2013.”

    Here is a follow-up article in the Tracy Press: http://www.tracypress.com/view/full_story/22947105/article-Tracy-vying-for-role-as-Silicon-Valley-satellite

    • September 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      Jon:

      If you really want to go after Silicon Valley you got to understand your customer first. Please watch this and see if you could reach any conclusions about Stockton’s potential in this regard:

      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/silicon/player/

      The Forbes article is more of an infomercial and in the paid for advertising category. It doesn’t cut it as anything serious. Because it fails to make Tracy’s case. That’s not how you make a case.

      • Jon Seisa
        September 24, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

        Oh Dean, I just remembered you… you used to post on here a lot and I haven’t seen you in quite a while. How have you been? So good to chat with you. I’ll check your posts out when I have more time, thank you!

      • Jon Seisa
        September 26, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

        Unfortunately Dean from my end, this very fascinating video ran sluggishly and stopped (so much for high-tech… lol). It does look like a great historical account of the microchip and Silicon Valley, though. Was there an encapsulated point from the video that you wanted to highlight pertinent to, as you said, to Stockton in regards to the customer and a means of tapping the synergy of Silicon Valley?

      • September 27, 2013 at 7:08 am #

        Jon:

        The one that caught my eye was:

        a. Silicon Valley was created through Stanford University providing land leases for way below market rates as an incentive for incubators to locate around this very important research center.

        b. Most if not all of the high tech breakthroughs were driven by military applications.

        Therefore it looked to me that in order to create a technopolis one needs 1. a research university/academia controlling large amount of space in its milieu and 2. a large player(s), such as the government for example, driving innovation.

        The present US government – again as an example – has a stated goal that in 5 years from now we will have energy independence and the only country we will be importing oil from beyond 2020 would be Canada, thus breaking the vicious cycle of dependency on Mid-East oil. Such target creates many opportunities in the field of CH4 fuel conversion and methane hydrates exploration. Stockton might be able to benefit from such if it could pioneer R&D in this or similar fields (say renewables). Again, this is an example to draw the big picture from which selectively Stockton could choose certain areas of specialization. Energy to me is a very important field for innovation and new applications.

        http://www.cnbc.com/id/100450133

  4. David Garcia
    September 25, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    Great discussion. Coincidentally I am reading a very good book on these exact topics called METROPOLITAN REVOLUTION by two Brookings scholars. I highly recommend it, it discusses how cities and metros around the country have innovated their way to success. The lessons from this book have very practical implications for Stockton

    Regarding the post, I have a few thoughts:

    – The main point of the article is that the proposed plan for Cordes Ranch looks like a boring office park, and there is nothing from the developer that leads me to believe I am wrong. Start ups and small tech companies do not want office parks, they want urban environments. Cordes Ranch and Tracy do not offer this at the present time, but that could change.

    – I am not bashing Tracy. Stockton needs Tracy to succeed. As part of the greater Stockton metro area, Tracy’s success can only be good for Stockton, and vice versa. Metro regions rise and fall together (the book i mentioned has the research that backs up my claim), and any us-versus-them mentality needs to be eliminated. I noticed in the county’s recent publication marketed to bay area companies, each city is marketed separately, and I believe this is a mistake. It’s important that the all central valley cities be marketed as one metro area instead of each city making it’s own individual pitch. Stockton can provide things that Tracy can’t, and I am sure the same is true the other way around.

    – That being said, Stockton should be marketed as the metropolitan center of the region as it has the most assets (transportation, university, cultural events, diversity, etc) and biggest chance to attract real talent, which will start when the greater downtown area’s full potential is realized. I have great hope that that day will come sooner rather than later.

    – UOP is absolutely critical to the region’s success. Luckily the current administration understands that they stand to gain tremendously by expanding their reach, but there is a lot more that can be done. The same can be said about the city’s medical institutions. A meds and eds approach needs to be part of the equation.

    • Jon Seisa
      September 25, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

      Of course, I agree with you, David, that a standard office park is definitely not the most ideal way to go, in fact I would highly discourage it. I hope the designers involved will be more savvy than that. But if that is the initial direction, well, at least it is a start, a doing, and mistakes will be learnt on the other side and subsequently a fine tuned direction evolves as more investment and development augments those initial plans, and other phase plans of expansion will be improved architectural design models, more on the line of the cohesive and integrated campus trend as I mentioned above. (Incidentally, I didn’t think at all that you were bashing Tracy—apologies if any of my posts mislead you to believe this.)

      I’ll have to check out your book recommendation; that sounds simply fascinating; thanks a bunch!

      I really think Stockton is highly ideal for an URBAN-oriented high-tech cluster, designated as a specific district downtown near the waterfront. And strategically, this would be the more ideal way for Stockton to enter this industry while invigorating its urban core; and later after the fruition of the next tech-wave has solidified when the new emergent tech giants will be clamoring for even more space, then a vaster visionary development could be implemented outside of Stockton, like the one I had envisioned, “El Dorado Bay Technopolis”.

      The more immediate urban high-tech cluster, though, must consist of several city blocks, like a minimum of 24 blocks earmarked for the planned district, where the existing structures are renovated for occupancy, or large corporations come in purchase and transform the structures with upgrades for their occupancy. I hope the city wakes up to this next decade’s tech-wave and strategizes a plan to align the required elements that will attract the high-tech industry’s movers and shakers and capture some of the market. Dan Cort’s idea for the downtown UOP satellite campus is a very good idea, and it will add to the mix and phenomenon. But there needs to be a sweeping high-level and integrated strategic master plan, overall, with a lot of key ingredients and infrastructural upgrades. This can be done in tandem strategy to what Tracy is doing, and would not be considered competition, but a fortified dovetail strategy for the benefit of the entire San Joaquin County Metro Vicinity.

      But in addition to this, there needs to be an ambitious “beautification campaign” the approaches in and out of Stockton towards downtown, and a clean-up agenda for the peripheral districts adjacent downtown, so that the insulated “island syndrome” is not present, where residences and workers in the high-tech cluster feel they are unsafe in the peripheral zones, or assaulted by urban blight. So the strategy should include bilateral renovation and development in those areas, i.e. east of downtown to Airport Way or Wilson Way, and south of the Cross-Town Freeway, the entire Mormon Slough vicinity. In particular, this area needs to be radically transformed.

    • September 26, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

      In reply to yours and Jon’s comments:

      Why don’t we ask for an evaluation from someone like the Tumml accelerator? Invite them in or simply e-mail them and ask what do Clara & Julie think Stockton should do to attract attention and follow through as a high tech destination:

      “Tumml is led by a pair of recent graduates from the Sloan School at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Clara Brenner and Julie Lein.”

      http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2013/04/01/new-incubator-aimed-at-helping-urban.html?page=all

    • September 27, 2013 at 8:22 am #

      I see no reason why Stockton can’t be “Big Time” in the LNG truck conversion business. Trucking is part of the local ag-culture and LNG is the future. What more natural than having the heart of this truck conversion business right here? Stockton goes after electric small vehicles (which is questionable as a technology and certainly unfit for big vehicles) and disregards the truck market which is in its blood/culture/history? How come? :

  5. Jon Seisa
    September 26, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

    This young man, Michael Clark, developed an innovative strategic proposal of collective finance mechanisms for joint-optimization to facilitate urban economic renaissance and renovation with reciprocating drivers built into the dynamic finance matrix, which he posted a couple years ago on the Open-IDEO Challenge – “How might we restore vibrancy in cities and regions facing economic decline?”, in which his proposal is entitled “Collective Impact Financing to Spur Urban Renaissance” and is patterned after the support mechanisms of the Euro-JESSICA Model (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas). It’s worth a review.

    http://www.openideo.com/open/vibrant-cities/concepting/collective-impact-financing-to-spur-urban-renaissance-

    http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/thefunds/instruments/jessica_en.cfm

    There are many possibilities, I suppose; it’s just finding the best approach that will fit Stockton’s unique needs.

  6. Anthony
    September 26, 2013 at 11:52 pm #

    Enjoyed the article but tend to always remain optimistic about my hometown county (and hometown Stockton). I think Tracy is just the beginning to the “North Central Valley” and in particular Stockton Metro. I also enjoyed the conversation by Dean and Jon, very insightful. Jon, I have the same sentiment that Stockton has so much potential but seems to always miss the mark or fails to move when time is right. Maybe the Tracy project will once again wake up SJ County’s giant into once again becoming the “boss” and center of culture, innovation, progress, economic activity, and creativity. I’d also really love to see some images of this Stockontopia Jon, it’s similar to what I’ve imagined creating in some simulated future scenario of my hometown should it finally grab the bull by the horns and become what it rightfully should be: A leader and successful city near a beautiful and bountiful natural wonder (the Delta.

    • September 27, 2013 at 7:20 am #

      One possible area for Stockton innovation could be the truck fleet conversion from traditional fuel to CH4. Listening this T.B. Pickens speech you may also think of a few more areas for potential Stockton excellence:

    • Jon Seisa
      September 27, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

      I have to agree with you, Anthony, on the Tracy stratetgy opening the door to Silicon Valley and ushering in the obvious and inevitable, a new era of high-tech culture for SJC and Stockton that will have broader and overwhelming benefits, and as David has observed, will lead to Stockton’s urban core reinforced development as a major business nucelus due to the city’s aligning central amenities. I really think and anticipate the overspill effect will be good for all. Tracy/West-SJC just seem like the next logical expansion zone for SV’s space problem. Where else can they logically go? The Pacific Ocean? I think not.

      Once “Stocktontopia” (my blog on my visionary strategies and designs for Stockton) is up, I’ll let you know. I just designed the main logo, looks awesome. The more ideas, the merrier.

      • Jon Seisa
        September 27, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

        Sorry, I posted the above comment in the wrong location -lol. And there doesn’t seem to be a way to correct it. It was in reply to Anthony’s post above. Apologies.

        Meanwhile, Dean, what a great idea! Here in LB our RTD buses are hybrids, another thought.

  7. Anthony
    September 26, 2013 at 11:53 pm #

    sorry…..the beginning to the (insert) NEW ” North Central Valley”….

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