Health insurer Blue Shield is moving its headquarters from San Francisco's Financial District to downtown Oakland in an effort to reduce costs and create options for growth.
The non-profit health insurance company will be the largest office tenant to move from San Francisco to Oakland in 30 years.
Blue Shield said it signed a letter of intent to lease 200,000 square feet of office space on Wednesday, but the move isn't scheduled until 2019.
In fact, the location where Blue Shield of California is moving is nothing but a muddy gravel pit right now.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said landing an anchor tenant means that construction that stalled years ago can resume on the 24-story office tower. The development is called 601 City Center, and is being developed by Shorenstein Realty Services.
Schaaf said about 2/3 of the 1,200 employees who will report to work in Oakland already live in the East Bay.
"This is going to improve their quality of life, lessen their commutes, make their environmental footprint less, and add to the vitality of downtown Oakland," Schaaf said.
Blue Shield joins another healthcare giant with headquarters in downtown Oakland: Kaiser Permanente.
In 2015, Uber Technologies bought the former Sears Building. Pandora Media rents space at 2101 Webster. The University of California Office of the President also recently signed a letter of intent to rent space at 1100 Broadway.