700 Santana Row Office Building  –– San Jose, CA

Federal Realty Investment Trust retained Cornerstone Earth Group, Inc. to provide environmental and geotechnical engineering services for a split 5-and 8-story building that will house approximately 230,000 square feet of office space, 32,000 square feet of ground floor retail, and provide parking in a one-level underground garage. Targeting LEED Silver, sustainable features include cool roofs, water efficient landscaping and irrigation design, and use of recycled materials. Founded in 1962, Federal Realty is a recognized leader in the ownership, operation and redevelopment of high-quality retail based on properties located primarily in major coastal markets. The architect is WRNS Studio; the General Contractor is Devcon Construction.

Santana Row comprises approximately 45 acres in west San Jose. The property was used for orchards and other agricultural purposes until the early 1960s, at which time the original Town & Country Village Shopping Center and an automobile dealership were constructed. The previous agricultural land use resulted in the accumulation of pesticides, arsenic, and lead in surface soil at the property. As part of the redevelopment, the property was remediated under the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) oversight. Santana Row is now known for its upscale shopping, dining and entertainment.

cornerstone's added value benefit:

  • Observation and testing during mass grading, foundation excavations, shoring installation, utility trench backfill and more.
  • Dust monitoring during excavation activities to document (and mitigate if needed) potential impact to surrounding businesses.
  • Soil profiling to develop cost effective disposal alternatives.
  • Coordination with the Department of Toxic Substances Control in Site development activities, including the placement of the pesticide impacted soil beneath the garage slab, saving millions of dollars in off-haul and disposal fees.

Drone Footage

LogistiCenter at Enterprise



Our History

Although Cornerstone Earth Group, Inc. (Cornerstone) officially opened its doors in 2007, the seeds that grew into Cornerstone were planted years earlier. The founders originally met at Lowney Associates, where Cornerstone President and CEO, Ron Helm, had been since the late 1980s, eventually becoming COO, and later, President. But they became unhappy with the direction the company took when they were acquired by a larger public engineering firm in 2003. The future Cornerstone founders found themselves in agreement that the new company placed too much focus on dollars and cents and too little on customer service.

Eventually, the lack of priority given to the client’s needs became unacceptable, and Mr. Helm, along with Barry Butler (retired), Scott Fitinghoff (deceased), Laura Knutson (retired), Danh Tran, John Dye, Peter Langtry and Ron Massone launched the fledgling enterprise. They opened for business in Sunnyvale, California where, although it has since expanded, Cornerstone’s original office is still located today. Soon after, Kurt Soenen came on board. Before long, the company opened a second office in Walnut Creek, California.

In the beginning Cornerstone had no employees; the Principals drew no salary; and the Sunnyvale office was so wide open that they would amuse themselves and release the stress of working long hours by holding chair races on the premises. Who eventually became the chair racing champion remains a subject of contentious debate. The founding Principals generated their own business; performed the field work; performed the engineering analyses; and prepared their own documents.

After a year or two, enough business began to roll in that the first few employees were hired and, although they might not have known it, were actually paid more than the founders in the beginning. Over the next few years, the Principals found themselves happily surprised as some early successes occurred and the amount of business generated significantly increased. As an example, Mr. Helm describes an early meeting he had with Facebook when it was a small privately owned company. Even though at the time Facebook’s projects were small, Cornerstone treated their business the same as they would their largest client, and as a result Facebook remains a loyal client to this day. Eventually, many more Bay Area giants retained the services of Cornerstone Earth Group such as Adobe, Google and LinkedIn, to name a few. 

As the company has increased in size, emphasis was placed on organic growth, with most new customers coming through recommendations and word-of-mouth. It is also a core belief held by Cornerstone that to continue the growth of the company it is critical to follow our four corners of success:  1) Be Exceptional; 2) Add Value; 3) Learn and Improve; and 4) Have Fun. In addition, it was clear that Cornerstone also emphasized providing employees with a clear path forward to success by consistently creating opportunities for employees to grow with the company.

Mr. Helm is quick to point to the selfless teamwork and genuine friendship among the founders, along with their client-first approach and cost-effective practical recommendations, as the primary reasons the company at first survived, and eventually, thrived.