|[Updated with tweet from Apple CEO Tim Cook] After a long evening discussion, the Cupertino City Council has given its final approval on Apple's plan for a massive new "spaceship" main building that will be known as Campus 2. The $5 billion project is almost cleared to begin, following a mandatory 10-day review period. The vote of approval was unanimous, as had been the city's planning commission vote. The new headquarters will be set among 150 acres of restored orchard and grassland, and will house some 12,000-14,000 employees.
Following the reconsideration period, Apple will finally be able to break ground on the project, which is expected to open in 2016. In what turned out to be his final public appearance, former CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs gave the original presentation to the city council -- speaking of his love for the area and the site, which had previously belonged to HP. He revealed that the design of the campus would mean that most of the area would be restored to its original state, with greenery and walking paths both outside and inside the ringed four-story building to foster walking and random encounters that build collaboration.
Just ahead of the council vote, CFO Peter Oppenheimer and Senior Director of Real Estate and Facilities Dan Whisenhunt gave reporters a tour of a large-scale, room-filling 3D architectural model of the site. The two men talked with great pride about the project's use of renewable resources for power and environmentally-friendly design. Council members had previously already seen the model.
Discussions during the hours-long final approval meeting centered on Apple's plan on how to handle employees leaving work and trying to get on highway I-280, which yielded concerns of large numbers of employees merging left as they try to enter the highway. During the previous planning committee meeting, Apple and the city agreed to monitor roads near the on-ramp for traffic violations and consider changes if problems arose.
Costs on the project have ballooned from an initial $3 billion to the current $5 billion, mostly over "fit and finish" issues to create the building to fit Jobs' original vision. In addition to the main "spaceship" building, there will be ancillary office buildings, a 120,000 square foot underground auditorium, parking buildings above and below ground and specially-made curved glass windows which will be a distinct feature on the outside of the main building.
A video recording of the city council meeting should be available on the Cupertino city website soon, and the official announcement will be made later on Wednesday at around 10AM Pacific time. The formal approval of the vote and agreement is expected to be announced at a future council meeting on November 19.
Update: In only his fifth use of the microblogging service, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted the approval of Campus 2 and called it "our home for innovation and creativity for decades to come." Apple will be retaining its original headquarters, but the bulk of the company is expected to move to Campus 2 when it opens in 2016.