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DEAL OF THE WEEK: Hamilton Landing

Birkenstock Distribution USA, the American distributor of the German sandals, clogs and other comfy shoes, is moving its headquarters to the office park at the old Hamilton Air Force Base in Novato.

The company agreed to pay about $30 per square foot for almost 15,000 square feet in the office project on the decommissioned base that has been redeveloped into housing, commercial space and community facilities.

Birkenstock is the 12th company to sign a lease in the Hamilton Landing office park since late last year, according to the project's owner, Barker Pacific Group.

The company plans to move into the new space next month, said Birkenstock spokesman Scott Radcliffe. Birkenstock, which began importing in 1966, had been shipping shoes from Europe to California through the Panama Canal. Shoes bound for East Coast customers then had to be shipped across the county, making the route inefficient, Radcliffe said.

At the beginning of this year, Birkenstock began using a distributor in Kentucky, allowing the company to shave about three weeks off transit time and decreasing its need for space. About 60 Birkenstock employees will move to Hamilton Landing from offices adjacent to a now-empty 130,000-square-foot distribution warehouse that was also in Novato.

"The reuse of Hamilton Air Force Base is in line with Birkenstock's environmental and community values," Radcliffe said.

The base was built in 1934 and 1935 and named after Lloyd Andrew Hamilton, a lieutenant killed during World War I, according to the California state Military Department. The base was decommissioned in 1974. Years of disputes followed about how to best use the land, and an environmental cleanup was complicated when potentially explosive methane gas was found.

The more-than-400-acre site now includes the office park, almost 2,000 residential units and community facilities such as a swimming pool, YMCA and hiking trails.

Barker Pacific controls 22 acres that include seven hangars that are being turned into office space and two vacant parcels that will be developed into offices and housing. The company will spend $150 million on the project. Barker Pacific has completed its renovation of five hangars and plans to begin work on at least one of the final two this year. Hamilton Landing will ultimately include about 465,000 square feet of office space.

Haden Ongaro, Brian Eisberg and Mark Carrington of Orion Partners Ltd. handled the lease for Hamilton Landing, while Meade Boutwell at CB Richard Ellis represented Birkenstock.


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