EAST PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) — A huge swath of land in East Palo Alto is now owned by a company associated with the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs, the latest in a series of purchases by the company.

Palo Alto-based Sycamore Real Estate Investment LLC bought 30 acres of land in East Palo Alto’s Ravenswood Business District, a parcel which runs from the edges of East Palo Alto to the foot of the Dumbarton Bridge.

Sycamore, associated with Apple founder Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs, has bought up East Palo Alto properties in 2015 and 2016 and now owns about 46 acres with the latest purchase.

“They are among the largest private landowners in the city through these acquisitions,” said East Palo Alto Assistant City Manager Sean Charpentier.

But the big question is, what do they plan to do with the 45 acres they now own, in an area that’s part industrial and part undeveloped – and wholly in need of a facelift?

“The new vision for this industrial area really focuses on community benefits and employment and revenue generation for the city,” said Charpentier. “It’s also about improvements for the quality of life for the existing residents.”

Calls to Sycamore Real Estate and Emerson Collective, another company helmed by Powell-Jobs, were not returned.

Emerson Collective spokeswoman Marcy Stech told Palo Alto Online: “At this point, we are too early in the process with the community and the city to comment for your piece.”

East Palo Alto is in the midst of a transformation. The real estate market is red-hot with median home prices topping$1 million, and businesses are eyeing investment opportunities as well.

“It’s a little bit like, ‘Will the last working-class person turn out the light before they move to Stockton or Fresno?'” said Paul Bundy, who rents space in the warehouse at the heart of the redevelopment site.

He hopes whatever comes next takes into account the people who were here before. “It would be nice to see low-cost housing to address the needs of a broad segment of the community,” said Bundy.

The city says they haven’t received a proposal yet that spells out exactly what the plans are for the land. But they expect those conversations to begin later this year or early next year.


  1. Mark Dinan says:

    East Palo Alto has so many needs, it will be interesting to see what will be built on the many properties. Bars & Restaurants – a pizzeria maybe? Office space for non-profits and/or tech workers? “Missing Middle” Housing for teachers? Car Mechanic/Oil Change spot? Nail/Beauty/hair Salon? Grocery Store? Cafe Zoe in EPA? Dry Cleaner? Bank space?

    EPA is economically thriving, with average houses selling for around $1 Million. Unemployment is low, around 2%. Violent crime is also low, and the murder rate has fallen ~98% in the last 25 years. It is a great time to invest in EPA, and I am very curious what Emerson has in mind with their many properties.

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