Seagate Technology has offered $90.3 million to buy the cavernous Solyndrasolar-panel factory along Interstate 880 in Fremont, according to new documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
The proposed purchase price is 70 percent below the $300 million cost of construction of the building, as detailed in bankruptcy court records. The Obama Administration's Energy Department underpinned development of site through a 535 million loan guarantee.
"Seagate has entered into an agreement to purchase the building subject to a diligence review over the next 45 days," Seagate spokesman Brian Ziel said in a statement emailed to this newspaper.
The sale of the 412,000-square-foot complex, just off Interstate 880 on Kato Road, was arranged through commercial realty brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle, which had been hired by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to handle the marketing of the property. The plant was idled when solar-panel maker Solyndra imploded nearly a year ago.
If all conditions are met and the parties are in agreement, Seagate would complete the purchase of the building and 30-acre site on which it sits by no later than Feb. 28, 2013, court records filed on Wednesday show.
With large operations in Cupertino, Seagate undertook an extensive search for space before it settled on the Solyndra building in Fremont.
"Seagate has been looking to expand its lab operations and find expansion space," said Chris Shaffer, a senior vice president with Cornish & Carey Newmark Knight Frank. "They looked all over the place, and also examined sites in north San Jose."
The company has not announced what precisely it will do with the new building or whether it will shut down any of its operations elsewhere.
"If and when the purchase is complete, we will provide our plans for use of the building," Ziel said in his email.
The federal loan guarantee for the factory became a focus of controversy when Solyndra abruptly closed its doors and jettisoned 1,100 employees last August.
Solyndra manufactured cylindrical solar panels and gained prominence after President Barack Obama visited the Fremont factory in 2010.
"This is a state-of-the-art facility, it's a beautiful building," said Doug Norton, a senior vice president with commercial realty firm CB Richard Ellis. "This is great if the deal gets completed and Seagate invests in the site."
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