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Sony Looks Skyward, Plans Rancho Bernardo High-Rise

Sony Electronics said it plans to start construction of an 11-story headquarters in November, replacing two smaller buildings at its Rancho Bernardo site.

“The motivation is to bring everyone together at one cohesive site,” said Greg Aveni, Sony director of facilities. Sony, which began manufacturing televisions and cathode ray tubes in 1972, is now operating at four buildings, two of which are leased.

The current configuration inhibits communication flow and isn’t suited to most of the business at Sony’s campus today, which is administrative, engineering, planning, marketing and advertising, said Rick Clancy, senior vice president of corporate communications.

Sony Electronics, the largest subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corp., moved its corporate headquarters from Park Ridge, N.J., in 2004. Sony began reducing its local manufacturing operations in the late 1990s. Today, 20 percent to 25 percent of the site’s 2,400 employees are involved in manufacturing, Aveni said.

The main product made at the site is Vaio laptops.

The cost of the project, expected to be completed in the summer of 2009, is estimated at $150 million, but with furniture and other improvements, it could get up to $200 million.

Among the key features of the new building is a large meeting space on the first floor to accommodate the site’s workers, a new fitness center and a cafeteria on the top floor. Sony plans to make the meeting rooms available to local nonprofit and community groups.

The 11-story building did not require any zoning variance, and is in compliance with existing height limitations for the area, Aveni said.

For the fiscal year ended March 31, Sony Corp. reported net income of $1.07 billion on revenue of $70.3 billion.

, Mike Allen

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