Mike Reed, software engineer and manager of the Google office, said his department recently hired more employees, forcing them to search for a larger space.
The decision to move to the 200 block of West Franklin Street came in November, after Reed said he noticed the previous Southern Village location was running out of desks and filling up.
“It is more fun to eat lunch because there are more places around here,” Reed said.
“A big motivator was to be near the computer science department. We have ties with that department, and now we are in walking distance.”
Reed said students come by his office to talk, so the new office makes it easier for them to reach Google employees.
“We have research ties with the university, and we have recruiting ties with the university,” Reed said.
“UNC has a great graphics department. We hire a lot of grads from UNC ... They are good with graphics, and that is what we do.”
Between 4 and 6 percent of the people hired at the Chapel Hill Google office, which primarily works on graphics for Android and the Chrome browser , are UNC graduates, Reed said.
Dwight Bassett, economic development officer for Chapel Hill, said Google needed more space than their Southern Village location could offer them, and the group wanted space downtown.
“They liked the vibe of what is happening downtown and wanted to be a part of that activity,” he said.
Beth Gunn, a real estate agent in Chapel Hill, said Google went from 7,100 rentable square feet at Southern Village to now 14,400 square feet at their new office on Franklin.
Reed said they looked at other office space around the Triangle, like a space at Meadowmont, but they liked the size and location of the Franklin Street office.
“The other places were fine, but they were further from campus, not closer,” he said.
“I did not make the final decision, but in my mind, it was the best choice because we are now closer to campus.”
Bassett said they had many options when their lease was ending, but he is glad to have them downtown.
“They are a type of company that is pretty active, and they like to be in the middle of an active, walkable district,” Bassett said.
“The downtown area offered a lot more variety than what they had in Southern Village, and we are happy to have them here.”
Boxes are still being unpacked at the new location, and Reed said he now has to drive to work, but everyone is happy with the new start.
“Having nice amenities is important. We would rather be here than three blocks that way, so being near campus is great as well,” Reed said.
“Google is not really a graphics company, but this part of Google — this office — is, so it is nice that we are next to a good university.”