Warm Springs: A Fresh Outlook on Yesterday’s Innovation District


One could make an argument that Silicon Valley is the toughest audience in the world when it comes to innovation. That doesn’t intimidate us. Drawing inspiration from our peer cities, Fremont focused on its unique advantages when creating the Warm Springs Innovation District: both size (850 acres of opportunity) and industry niche (advanced manufacturing).

And when we talk about size, we’re also talking about the beauty of a blank canvas.

To give you a better sense of what we’re talking about, 850 acres is equivalent to New York’s Central Park or all the lakes and waterway systems of Walt Disney World.

San Francisco Chronicle’s urban design critic John King has already given us a pat on the back.

“In a region where imaginative planning often is constrained by fears of the unknown, it's startling to see a major city take an open-ended approach.”

Source: John King, San Francisco Chronicle article

Here was our strategy: create a mixed-use public realm that prioritizes not just job creation, but also residential neighborhoods, connectivity, open space, urban vibes, and of course, the best food trucks the Bay Area has to offer. 

We’re dreaming up a place that ticks off all the qualities that people look for in a 21st century workplace. For instance, today’s employees, especially those who fall into a younger demographic, often prefer public transportation over the “pleasure” of driving to work in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

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And with BART now extended to Warm Springs, we’re hoping more millennials will choose Fremont to build their careers, start their own families, and grab their morning cup of joe.

What else is brewing here? Ground has already been broken on new housing developments, an elementary school, and the Tesla campus expansion project. When the dust settles, this burgeoning neighborhood will house more than 20,000 new jobs, state-of-the art educational facilities, community parks, 4,000 new housing units, and more.

Not to mention the half-acre parcel of land within the Innovation District that will be dedicated to serving early-stage startups and companies. We’re calling this our Innovation Cultivator.

Steve Blank, who knows a thing or two about innovation having founded startups ranging from MIPS Technologies to E.piphany and who currently teaches entrepreneurship at Stanford and UC Berkeley, weighed in on the project.

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Well put, Mr. Blank.

We’re also planning a tech center that will amp up our dedication to groundbreaking research and advanced manufacturing. A nod to Warm Springs’ longtime prowess in hardware production, Sobrato Organization has dreamed up a 22-acre master plan for this Silicon Valley Technology Center. The center will include office and R&D space as well as a 110,000 square foot building dedicated to advanced manufacturing.

While the Innovation Cultivator and Technology Center projects are in motion, companies of all shapes and sizes are already calling the Warm Springs Innovation District home. Tesla Motors, Lam Research, Delta Products, Seagate, Western Digital, ThermoFisher, Boston Scientific, and startups in clean tech, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing have all placed their bets on us.

As a Fortune Magazine story pointed out, “A lot is riding on the success of hardware-software hubs like Fremont because advanced manufacturing and services are vitally important to modern economics.” We’re up for the challenge, believing we’ve got the right ingredients to — dare we say it? — truly innovate.