The USGS campus is owned by the General Services Administration (GSA), the government agency that serves as a property manager for federal office buildings.
The GSA is gathering market research and will re-evaluate the sale's terms, Andra Higgs, a Region 9 Public Affairs Officer, said in an email. Information is being gathered from interested parties, who include developers, investors, nonprofit organizations, corporations and individuals, according to Higgs.
The federal property at 345 Middlefield Road in the Linfield Oaks neighborhood, dubbed Rockaway Grove, is over 17 acres and includes many buildings and laboratories, as well as the GeoKids daycare. The minimum bid on the federal auction site was set at $120 million and required a $750,000 deposit in order to participate.
The USGS team has been gradually relocating from Menlo Park to Mountain View and plan to vacate the laboratories and offices by fall 2023 according to Jane Reid, deputy director of regions 8 and 10 which includes California. Moving the agency's West Coast science center to the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field was framed as largely a financial decision when it was announced in 2016, although research benefits were cited as well.
The GSA is obligated under federal law to charge market-rate rent for its properties, even in pricey locales such as the Bay Area. In 2016, annual rent for the campus was $7.5 million and was expected to go up significantly when the 10-year lease ended in late 2017.
When it changes hands to a private owner, it will be up to the Menlo Park City Council to decide what kind of redevelopment to allow at the site. In the council's most recent discussions on the site in December, council members were considering designating portions of the site as a public middle school and as high-density housing. It's currently zoned for public facilities.
The USGS campus is included in the city's Housing Element plan as a potential development site, and Assistant Community Development Director Deanna Chow said that there have been inquiries to the city regarding the property.
More information on the sale will be posted online as information becomes available.