John Arrillaga Sr., who helped build Silicon Valley, dies at 84

John Arrillaga Sr., the real estate developer who physically transformed Silicon Valley into tech office parks from orchards and became ...


John Arrillaga Sr., the real estate developer who physically transformed Silicon Valley into tech office parks from orchards and became a major donor to Stanford University, died Monday in Portola Valley, Calif. He was 84 years old.

His daughter, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, announcement his death in a post on Medium. His family declined to cite the cause.

Beginning in the 1960s, Mr. Arrillaga transformed the bucolic farmlands of Silicon Valley into a sprawling network of corporate campuses. At the time, the semiconductor industry was taking off in the Santa Clara Valley, with companies like Intel grow as fast as they could find buildings to expand into.

To meet this demand, Mr. Arrillaga and his partner, Richard Peery, purchased thousands of acres of farmland around California cities like Mountain View, Sunnyvale and San Jose. Even before they found tenants, they created developments of low-slung concrete buildings that were inexpensive and easy to construct.

They eventually built over 20 million square feet of commercial real estate. Many of these developments were home to technology companies, including Intel, Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Google.

Mr. Arrillaga and Mr. Peery became billionaires as property values ​​soared. Forbes pegged Mr. Arrillaga’s net worth at $2.5 billion.

As the tech industry grew and Silicon Valley’s population grew, some locals began to oppose the development. Several of Mr. Arrillaga’s projects have encountered obstacles: Residents protested the height of the proposed office towers of 100 feet in Palo Alto and disagree with the location of a new library in Menlo Park.

Later in life, Mr. Arrillaga also physically transformed Stanford, which he had attended on a basketball scholarship. He donated money for more than 200 projects and buildings at the university, including at least nine buildings and rooms named after his family and 57 scholarships. In 2013, he committed $151 million in college, largest donation to Stanford from a single living donor.

Mr. Arrillaga was born on April 3, 1937, in Inglewood, California. His father, Gabriel, was a professional football player who later became a laborer in a Los Angeles market. His mother, Freda, was a nurse.

In 1955, Mr. Arrillaga enrolled at Stanford, where he studied geography. At 6ft 4in tall, he captained the basketball team while juggling jobs to cover his expenses.

After graduating in 1960, he briefly played professional basketball – according to an article in Fortune, he was on the San Francisco Warriors’ roster for six weeks, although there is no record of him playing a game – before moving into commercial real estate.

In 1966, he and Mr. Peery started the real estate company Peery Arrillaga. Their partnership spanned five decades. In 2006 they sold about half of their 12 million square foot portfolio for $1.1 billion to a real estate investment division of Deutsche Bank.

In 1968, Mr. Arrillaga married Frances Marion Cook, a sixth grade teacher and another Stanford graduate. They had two children. She died of lung cancer in 1995. In 2003 he married Gioia Fasi, a former lawyer from Honolulu.

She and her daughter are survived by her, as is her son, John Jr.; two sisters, Alice Arrillaga Kalomas and Mary Arrillaga Danna; one brother, William Arrillaga; and four grandsons.

Mr Arrillaga’s ties to the tech industry were further tightened in 2006 when his daughter, a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, married Marc Andreessen, venture capitalist and founder of Netscape.

Mr. Arrillaga began making small donations to Stanford right after graduating. By the early 2000s, his school donations, primarily to his athletics department, had soared to over $80 million. In 2006, he gave Stanford $100 million, which was the largest sum by a single donor until he eclipsed it with his 2013 donation.

For 30 years, Mr. Arrillaga rebuilt and donated nearly every athletic facility at Stanford, including Maples Pavilion in 2004 and Stanford Stadium in 2005 and 2006. The Arrillaga name is so ubiquitous on campus , found on the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center, the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons, and the two campus gymnasiums — which students dubbed the “Nearrillaga” and “Farrillaga” gymnasiums to tell them apart.

Mr. Arrillaga, who avoided media coverage and interviews, developed a reputation for attention to detail in his construction projects.

While rebuilding Stanford’s football stadium, “he selected every palm tree, worked out the best shape for each structural element, and created his own designs for the seats,” Ms Arrillaga-Andreessen wrote in her Medium post. She added that he’s been known to “personally pick up every trash he sees and rearrange individual stones in fountains across campus.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: John Arrillaga Sr., who helped build Silicon Valley, dies at 84
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