Sonos is now the only company in downtown Santa Barbara that occupies more than 100,000 square feet of space. The company signed leases collectively valued at more than $21 million in 2013, according to Hayes Commercial Group, j5 and is now downtown Santa Barbara’s largest private-sector tenant.
Sonos executive Ingvar Meijers, who leads the firm’s global facilities team, told me that even as the privately held firm has expanded around the world, it has deepened its commitment to the South Coast. “People really enjoy being downtown and enjoy the urban lifestyle that comes with it,” he said. “We believe it’s kind of part of our culture.”
Sonos’ employees enjoy the perks of being able to walk to restaurants, stores and coffee shops and catch a breath of fresh air when they travel between the firm’s spread-out offices, he said. The company even has bicycles for those workers who prefer to pedal between its buildings.
Sonos currently has about 270 employees in town. About two years ago, it had about 100. “We keep on growing;’ Meijers said.
Greg Bartholomew of Hayes Commercial has represented Sonos since its inception and was approached by Sonos in late 2012 with an assignment. The music gear maker predicted that it would need a lot more space in 2013 to house its growing corporate operations and tasked Bartholomew with finding the right places. The only catch? Sonos needed 100,000 square feet of R&D and office space and wanted it right in Santa Barbara’s tight-knit downtown. “The requirement was unprecedented – there is no instance in memory of a private-sector tenant seeking space of that magnitude in the heart of downtown,” Bartholomew said in a statement. “To put this challenge in perspective, here is a snapshot of the downtown leasing market at the end of 2012. There were just four office spaces larger than 10,000 square feet available for lease, only one of which was suitable for Sonos. For R&D use, there were only four industrial spaces available for lease of any size, totaling 19,000 square feet.”
According to Hayes, Bartholomew scoured the downtown area and met with property owners to find available spaces that weren’t on the market.
By mid-year, Sonos had found four spaces totaling the square footage it needed: 25 E. Mason St. (46,790 square feet), 419 State St. (27,773 square feet), 614 Chapala St. (22,000 square feet) and 820 State St. (8,474 square feet). The first three properties were not on the market, Hayes noted.