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Friday, Dec 8, 2023

IoT Firm Advantech Co. Taps Tustin for New HQ

Advantech Co., a Taiwanese-based maker of industrial PCs, embedded Internet of Things (IoT) devices and other tech products, has inked a deal that will see the company’s new North American headquarters built on the grounds of the Tustin Legacy development.

The South Orange County Community College District recently approved plans for a six-story 108,942-square-foot office to be built for Advantech at the Advanced Technology & Education Park (ATEP), an education-focused business park that began work in 2017 and is run by the school district.

An additional two-story 78,837-square-foot warehouse facility is also expected to be built for the company. It would be used for storage, light manufacturing, repairing, and packaging non-hazardous industrial computer related products.

Advantech will occupy the buildings under a 75-year ground lease deal that will see the company pay some $760,000 a year in rent at the start of the deal. Advantech has the option to buy out the ground lease for more than $24 million as early as 2034, according to school district filings.

The new development is set to be one of the new larger office projects for Orange County in recent years, outside of the Irvine Spectrum.

Irvine Move

Advantech, which currently operates its U.S. operations out of a roughly 27,000-square-foot building in the Spectrum area of Irvine, says it expects to move into its new North American headquarters in late 2025.

Construction is due to start this fall. School district filings indicate Mirack Construction and JJP Architechts and Planners are involved in the project.

“This new base will perfectly embody the company’s brand image, IoT expertise, and North American ambition,” the tech company said in a statement this month.

Advantech’s shares are traded on Taiwan’s stock exchange and it counts a nearly $9 billion valuation. It was reported to have about 150 employees in Irvine in 2020, when it told the Business Journal it was planning a big boost to its local operations and had begun searching out options for a larger base in the area.

Documents indicate the company’s been in discussions with the school district over a potential development at the Tustin site for several months.

The company has more than 1,000 product lines, serving medical equipment builders, industrial equipment builders, as well as networking, health and telecoms companies, with the product array becoming more diversified as the company moves into more industrial Internet of Things areas.

It works with partners across a diverse range of market sectors to provide edge-to-cloud solutions for a wide array of applications—driving smart cities, smart factories and the advancement of industrial and commercial IoT.

Education Partner

ATEP is on approximately 61 acres on Red Hill Avenue on the northwestern edge of the 1,606-acre former Marine Corps Air Station. The school district took ownership of the land through a deal with the city of Tustin after the former helicopter base closed in 1999.

Between 1.1 million and 1.7 million square feet of space could be built on the education campus, depending on product type.

Advantech’s campus, to be built on nearly 10 acres at the intersection of Red Hill Avenue and Victory Boulevard, would be the largest development for the campus to date.

The Advantech offices are expected to fit in well with the education focus of ATEP.

For the six-story headquarters office building, floors three through six are due to be utilized for a 74,396-square-foot R&D area for computers and related components, according to district filings.

In addition, Advantech “will be required to provide educational opportunities and support to the District and its students and staff, including the provision of direct educational support to ATEP’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, sponsorship of non-STEM college events and scholarships; and shared use of facilities and equipment; as well as support of District students through career coaching as well as paid internships and direct job placements,” filings indicate.

“We wanted to find a location that would address the needs of our existing team members in terms of city amenities and services, while also finding a location that would be an exciting and inspiring attraction for new talent,” said Ween Niu, general manager of Advantech North America.

At the Tustin spot, “we have a unique opportunity to cultivate new talent with community college students through an offering of internships, externships, mentoring, and even careers,” Niu said.

Preschool Addition to ATEP

The South Orange County Community College District has tapped a younger base of users for another addition to its education campus on the grounds of the Tustin Legacy development.

SOCCCD announced this month it had linked up with a private developer based in Phillips Ranch for a ground lease to develop a Goddard School, a private preschool, on the site.

PJRJPA Venture LLC signed a 75-year lease—with a 24-year extension option—for 1.4 acres at the Advanced Technology & Education Park (ATEP), an education-focused business park that began work in 2017.

The deal, first approved by the school district last August, was valued at $27.3 million over the length of the long-term lease, according to the Irvine offices of NAI Capital Commercial, which has been sourcing speculative developers for the campus since its inception.

The Goddard School development will include a 14,400-square-foot educational preschool with ancillary childcare services, outdoor play areas, a parking lot, and associated infrastructure improvements, according to NAI Capital.

The school intends to open this fall.

“Given the childcare needs that have increased as a result of the pandemic, the Board of Trustees proudly supported an additional early childhood education facility option in the area for families,” SOCCCD Chancellor Julianna Barnes said in a statement.

It’s the latest project to move ahead, since Saddleback College broke ground earlier this year on a nearly 50,000-square-foot facility at ATEP to serve as an extension of the college’s main campus in Mission Viejo.

The project will include “a state-of-the-art culinary arts program, logistics program, and advanced automotive program,” according to the school district.

Saddleback’s property joins that of Irvine Valley College, which opened the first building at ATEP in 2018 with the delivery of its School of Integrated Design, Engineering and Automation, a 32,492-square-foot career technical education facility.

The Goddard School aims to complement these facilities and future education projects as “an important partner at ATEP for the parents involved with the SOCCCD as well as the surrounding communities,” said NAI Senior Vice President Kirby Greenlee.

—Katie Murar

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