Bayside Towers. Located at 4000 and 4100 E. Third Avenue, Foster City.
This article concerns another historic development in our city. And while Bayside Towers may not have the long history of some of the other developments, it still represents a novel one and is associated with some interesting history of the area and our city.
The area itself, a small northeastern segment of Foster City, close to the San Mateo Bridge, interestingly enough, was referred to as Guano Island, even on maps going back to the 1800s. Guano means seabirds and fertilizers, so can only imagine that people who were in the area, before and after Brewer Island was created, must have been amazed at the number and variety of shorebirds and their ability to create waste, that at that time was very marketable as fertilizer. Now we go forward to the early 1960s. While the area, itself, was still open, it did serve as a staging area, to gather needed materials for construction of the current San Mateo Bridge. Once the construction was all completed, with the opening of the bridge in 1967, the California Department of Transportation, did establish their bridge operations center very close by, just at the base of the bridge. This particular land, however, essentially remained open.
It was in the mid 1990s that Lincoln Properties, with nearby buildings already existing, just to the west of this land, decided it was time to add new commercial buildings at the site. The development group formally applied to the City in 1997 to construct what would be two, unique towers, standing next to each other on this open land. However, what was important about this development, with the obvious environmental impact in mind, was to insure construction would proceed with minimal impact. In addition, this also meant public access, to the then developed trail right on the Bay be supported as well as to enhance maximum enjoyment for the public in this pristine area. Thus a 100 foot long pedestrian bridge was constructed from between the buildings, over a sensitive habitat area, ending at the trail. Further, a small park was constructed in the far eastern part of the property, what would be just at the end of the new eastern parking lot, and would include park benches to relax and access to those who wanted to fish in the Bay from points right off of the trail. In addition, the environmental sensitivity of the project would require further approval, in this case from the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC).
The project was begun following the initial approvals. Development continued through the end of 1998 into 1999 with the City of Foster City Planning Department continually monitoring development and all critical aspects of the project. Several companies applied to be tenants once the towers were completed. One of the earliest, most noteworthy to apply, was Inktomi, pioneering in the development of backroom Internet technology.
With great fanfare, the towers were both completed by the latter part of 1999 and the initial business clients who had applied and accepted as tenants moved in. The first tenant of Bayside Towers was Inktomi Corp, which was founded by Berkeley professor Eric Brewer, who is currently VP of Infrastructure at Google Cloud. The building had a giant Inktomi logo painted on the roof for display to the airplanes that were landing at SFO.
Tower 1 (4000 E. 3rd Avenue) featured 136,000 square feet of retail space while Tower 2 (4100 E. 3 rd Avenue) featured 141,000 square feet of retail space. The towers have served an important city need providing a home for a variety of businesses, including technology pioneers, over the last two plus decades. A new owner did take over some two years ago and there has been some internal remakes of the buildings. A couple of the notable tenants now include First Science Tools and Zoox. In addition, now with the levee upgrade project in process, it has meant some related changes at Bayside Towers. For example, the pedestrian bridge is being completely refurbishing of the buildings and likely there will be upgrades made to the small park.
At this point, there is not even great certainly over the longer term future of Bayside Towers. One large technology company has been rumored to coming in and buying both of the towers. However, for now, please enjoy the Bayside Towers, if you are over on 3rd Avenue, and once the levee project is completed, along with the refurbished pedestrian bridge, it should be a treat to walk over it and take a stroll along the new pathway as you look to your side at the buildings.