In his final public appearance on this earth at a 2011 Cupertino City Council meeting, Apple co-founder/messiah Steve Jobs promised the council that Apple’s 175-acre “Apple Park” campus featuring a spaceship doughnut inspired structure would be “the best office building in the world.” But it sucks to live next to the best office building in the world, according to residents whose homes are adjacent to the almost inhabited Apple headquarters, as the Mercury News reports that construction noise, debris, and traffic have been a constant hassle for Sunnyvale residents.
“My life has been a constant hell since October 2013,” Sunnyvale resident IrisAnn Nelson complained to the Merc, noting the nearly four years of construction that have gone into the sprawling space-age headquarters. “We get treated like we don’t matter. Cupertino doesn’t care because we’re not in Cupertino. Sunnyvale doesn’t seem to care either.”
As the unhappy Sunnyvale homeowner notes, one aspect to the problem may be that border issue: The campus sits in Cupertino, but precisely on the border of Sunnyvale, where there's now a 100,000 square-foot in-house gym, yoga studio and dental office that the company refers to as a “wellness center”). Right on the other side of the new headquarters sits Sunnyvale’s Birdland neighborhood (where residents refer to the same structure as “the prison wall”.)
Birdland residents on the wrong side of the wall claim they’ve dealt with three-plus years of construction noise, dirt and dust all over their homes and cars, and a curious rash of tiny sharp objects littering the streets and puncturing their tires. Apple’s corporate public relations contends they’ve been extremely responsive, and Curbed notes they’ve devoted 80 whole acres just to parking.
“I would say we were extremely aware of the local complaints,” Apple vice president of real estate Dan Whisenhunt told the Bay Area News Group. “We got emails all the time for the last few years, and I personally saw every single one of them. If the concern of our neighbors were big enough, I would go visit them at their home.”
So, he gets “emails all the time” but the concerns are not always “big enough” to merit follow-up. People, that is how you become vice president of real estate at the America's most profitable company.
The construction noise issue is particularly contentious, as locals argue this racket continues after midnight on a nightly basis. An Apple project coordinator insists they “do not allow any active construction at that time,” and here we probably have a dispute over the definition of “active construction” (e.g., machinery left operating even while not in active use).
The old Bay Area argument is that these people should be thrilled with the inconvenience, because Apple is so graciously enhancing their property value. Indeed, the New York Times confirms that the neighborhood’s property values have doubled since 2011, and that homeowners are routinely offered 20 to 25 percent more than asking price.
But this argument also assumes that real estate value is the only meaningful quality-of-life metric for locals who never asked for a tech company mega-campus to be built in their backyard. “Many say we should just be happy that Apple is raising our property values,” Birdland resident Debby MacDonald told the Merc. “This doesn’t do me much good unless I plan to sell.”
Apple employees began moving in several months ago, but the entire Apple Park is far from inhabited just yet, as 9to5Mac reports.
Below, the very latest drone footage, which includes new glimpses of the aforementioned Steve Jobs Theater.
Related: Apple's New Spaceship Doughnut Campus Nears Completion