Sunset Magazine’s parent company, Time, Inc. is exploring the idea of selling the company’s Menlo Park headquarters, including the expansive gardens surrounding its iconic offices.
Launched in 1898 as a promotional periodical for the Southern Pacific Transportation Company, Sunset Magazine’s initial goal was to combat rampant, negative ‘Wild West’ stereotypes circulating about California. The periodical was christened after the Sunset Limited train that traveled between New Orleans and San Francisco.
In 1929, with the magazine in financial straights, former Better Homes and Gardens ad exec, Lawrence Lane, bought Sunset and transformed it to the current, highly successful Western lifestyle format.
For its first 50 years, the magazine was based in San Francisco. Sunset opened its Menlo Park campus in 1951, moving into offices designed by Cliff May, architectural innovator of the ubiquitous California ranch-style home. Lane owned the magazine until 1991, when Time Warner, now Time Inc., purchased it.
Sunset holds an annual festival during which it brings the magazine’s pages to life with cooking exhibitions, music, and “how to’s” on designing the Western lifestyle. The event draws thousands of visitors who want to experience first-hand all California living has to offer.
Originally created as a ‘grand center’ that embodied the California way of life, today the Sunset campus is strategically located in a highly desirable and expensive suburban area. With a huge amount of its assets tied up in the headquarters, this has been the catalyst for Time, Inc. to explore selling the property.
Menlo College located in nearby Atherton, has expressed interest in purchasing the 7-acre parcel, with plans to preserve it ‘as is’, utilizing the buildings as classrooms or instructor housing. There are several other proposals on the table, including one from another undisclosed academic institution.
Close to both downtown Menlo Park and downtown Palo Alto as well as being commercially zoned, the campus is projected to garner multiple, competitive offers from a number of developers.
It remains to be seen if Menlo College or another institution ends up as the new owner of the campus, but there is no doubt it will sell quickly and command top dollar.