Apple's new campus still a long way off

April 2, 2008: 11:18 AM ET
Apple CEO Steve Jobs addresses the Cupertino City Council on April 18, 2006. Image: City of Cupertino

According to city maps, the site of Apple's new campus will be bounded by Interstate 280, Wolfe Road, Pruneridge Avenue and Tantau Avenue. Image: City of Cupertino

Steve Jobs's plans for a new Apple campus in its hometown of Cupertino, Calif., are taking a little longer than expected to become reality.

Two years ago this month, the Apple (AAPL) CEO made a surprise visit to a Cupertino City Council meeting to deliver big news: Apple had been looking for an additional site for its growing workforce, and considered leaving its longtime home. But the company managed to cobble together nine pieces of land about a mile from Apple's current digs, and decided to stay in Cupertino after all, using both locations.

"We haven't started designing anything yet," Jobs said at the April 18, 2006 meeting. "It'll take us, you know, three or four years to design it, get all the approvals and get it built."

Apple can easily afford any building project. With nearly $19 billion on hand, it has the third largest cash reserves in the tech world, behind Cisco (CSCO) and Microsoft (MSFT). Even so, Jobs said two years ago that Apple paid more for the Cupertino site than it would have paid in other Silicon Valley cities, though he expected it will be worth it once Apple builds a second campus in Cupertino to accommodate between 3,000 and 3,500 people. "It's going to cost us more than we'd like," he said, "but hopefully in five years we'll have forgotten about that and we'll just have a second nice campus in Cupertino."

An Apple spokesman pointed out that Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said in an earnings call that month that Apple hoped to break ground "in a few years." He also said that Apple would "hopefully complete a second campus in around four years," according to a transcript.

Those timelines might have been ambitious. Two years after the announcement, Apple has not applied for permits to build on the site, confirmed Ciddy Wordell, a project manager for the city of Cupertino who is in charge of the North Vallco development area where the new Apple land is located. "They must go through a planning approval process, get a use permit and an architectural review," Wordell said. "It might even involve a general plan change."

Once all of that is done, it often takes about two years for a major construction project to be completed. So unless Apple gets its campus plans moving more quickly, it looks like the whole ordeal could drag on a bit longer than Jobs had hoped.

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