Aduro Biotech Inc. — a startup that aims to develop different immunotherapies for cancer — will house its headquarters at 740 Heinz Ave., a Wareham Development life science building.
Originally, the Berkeley-based startup partially leased the building last September with the option to take the entire building, according to CEO Stephen Isaacs. Since then, Isaacs said, they are exercising that option out of anticipation that the company’s staff will grow significantly in coming years.
“This is probably the last remaining major space for biotech available in the East Bay,” Isaacs said. “We can put up to 400 people in this building, and that’s not an unreasonable aspiration for us in the next two or three years.”
Berkeley City Council approved Wareham Development’s application to build a research and development project at the location in 2009. Then in 2011, according to senior planner Greg Powell, the developers filed a revised application — which entailed demolishing the entire building, a former dried coconut warehouse, to construct a new structure.
The revisions were approved by City Council in 2013, and the construction of the four-story, 110,000 square foot building was completed in 2015.
Isaacs said he made it a priority to keep Aduro in Berkeley because the city is a part of the company’s culture. Aduro is invested in the community and plans to stick around, Isaacs said, as is evident from its close ties with UC Berkeley and its community outreach programs that offer internships to low-income Berkeley students.
West Berkeley — where 740 Heinz Ave. is located — was originally zoned to incorporate manufacturing industries and be “a center for craftspeople,” said West Berkeley activist Katherine Harr.
While the greater Berkeley community has been grappling with lack of affordable housing options for years now, Harr said she thinks diversity of land use should be a priority as well.
“Should Berkeley change with the times and allow biotech instead of empty buildings, or does Berkeley want to retain a vibrant craft culture,” Harr said in an email. “Can Berkeley do both?”