SAN DIEGO — Japanese television manufacturer Sony Corp. has agreed to buy a 32-acre parcel of land in Rancho Bernardo, enough to nearly double the 750,000 square feet of plant space it owns and operates nearby in the North San Diego community.
The purchase agreement, a $14-million deal with San Diego developer Douglas Allred Co. that is scheduled to close by the end of the year, is part of an aggressive expansion program the consumer electronics giant has pursued over the past two years with the purpose of shifting more TV manufacturing from Japan to the United States and Tijuana.
Clint Michaelis, president of Sony Manufacturing Corp. of America, the Rancho Bernardo-based U.S. subsidiary, said the parcel is large enough to accommodate about 700,000 square feet of new buildings. Sony's plans at this point call for the added space to be used mainly as storage and warehouse.
Precise plans and timetables for development of the property have not yet been determined, but Michaelis said Thursday that it may be two years before Sony builds anything on the site, assuming the purchase closes later this year. The parcel is across the street from the existing Sony complex on West Bernardo Drive.
New Product Lines Added
Speculation Wednesday among sources involved in the deal was that Sony's land purchase may have been prompted by the fact that the company has added product lines to its 38-acre Rancho Bernardo manufacturing complex, which opened in 1972 and now employs about 1,600.
Over the past six months, Sony has announced that it is moving manufacturing of 32-bit work-station computers as well as 3.5-inch floppy-disk drives, a data-storage device for computers, from Japan to the Rancho Bernardo plant.
Sony also disclosed last week that it has begun assembling its brand-new, 32-inch color televisions at the Rancho Bernardo plant from components shipped from Japan. If sales of the new TV go well, Michaelis said last week, Sony may begin manufacturing the components here as well.
The added product lines have put more strain on Sony's warehouse capacity, causing the company to store material and finished goods in semi-truck trailers parked on nearby streets. To ease the storage space shortage, Sony disclosed last week, it has leased half of a vacant 410,000-square-foot building in Kearny Mesa formerly occupied by Sanyo E&E.
Last October, Sony opened a 260,000-square-foot plant in Tijuana, where it began making all its 13- and 19-inch TVs for the U.S. market. The plant, which employs 1,000, is also the site of production for some of Sony's 20-inch sets.
Sony continues to make virtually all its 32-, 27- and most of its 20-inch sets for the U.S. market in Rancho Bernardo.
Douglas Allred, president of Douglas Allred Co., said he originally acquired the land being sold to Sony as part of a 140-acre tract from Avco Community Developers. His company developed the land as the Rancho Bernardo Corporate Center. All but the Sony lot and three others totaling 7 acres have been built out, he said.