The story of Sobrato business and philanthropic activities, from the 1910s through today
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Historical Timeline
 

Begin in the early 1900s (on the left) and pan toward the right to view descriptions of iconic Sobrato projects and key family and philanthropic milestones over the years. Scroll down and click on the Image Gallery references (located at the base of each column of dates) to reveal dozens of historical images and articles.

 
1910s
Ann Ainardi is born in Washington State, but returns with family to Torino, Italy at age three upon the death of her mother.

John Massimo Sobrato of Suza, Italy enlists in the American army during WWI. He is wounded in action, receives Purple Heart, is recognized by army officers for his culinary talents, and immigrates to San Francisco after the war.

1920s John works his way up in the restaurant business; opens successful establishment in North Beach during the Prohibition Era he calls Johns Rendezvous.

1930s At 39, John travels to Italy, meets and marries Ann Ainardi. They return together to San Francisco. Knowing no English, Ann attends Heald College. Ann and John have a child, John Albert, in 1939.
1940s
WWII-era food shortages prompt Sobratos to purchase 5 acres in Atherton -- they raise poultry and produce to support the restaurant. Ann and John A. work on the farm while John Sr. runs the restaurant.

Famed for its fine food, Johns Rendezvous grows and draws thousands of patrons—considered the largest and one of the finest restaurants in San Francisco during the 1940s.

1950s John Massimo Sobrato passes away in 1952. Ann sells the restaurant, reinvests proceeds in additional properties on the Peninsula, and discovers her penchant for real estate.

1960
John A. Sobrato graduates from Santa Clara University, marries Susan, and founds Midtown Realty.

1961 In partnership with his mother Ann (Sobrato) Russo, Sobrato develops their first build-to-suit for Lockheed Corporation, a 14,000 sf tilt up at 1260 Birchwood, Sunnyvale.

1962 Sobrato convinces his friend and preferred mortgage broker for his residential clients, Carl E. Berg, to join Midtown.


1968 Sobrato, Berg, and Ann (Sobrato) Russo partner to develop tilt up buildings for the emerging electronics industry in Santa Clara County.

1969 Sobrato becomes first person named to the Million Dollar Club ($1M in residential sales) by the Palo Alto Real Estate Board.
1974 Sobrato-Berg completes first major campus development of 200,000 sf for Amdahl Corporation at 1250 East Arques, Sunnyvale.

Sobrato and Berg leave Midtown to concentrate full time on their development business, establishing headquarters in Cupertino.
1978 After 9 years and 2.3 million sf of development, Sobrato and Berg split to form separate companies. Sobrato firm renamed Sobrato Development Companies.

1979 Sobrato completes first mid-rise build-to-suit for a technology tenant: 4-story office building in Cupertino for Four Phase Systems (later acquired by Motorola).
1983 John M. Sobrato joins firm following graduation from Santa Clara University.

1985 Firm surpasses 5,000,000 square feet of commercial real estate under ownership through build-to-suit mid-rise developments for ASK Computers in Mountain View, Avantek, Advantest, Digital Equipment in Santa Clara and Verbatim division of Kodak in San Jose.
1990 Sobrato Development Company begins a diversification strategy and develops Willow Lake—its first apartment project comprising 408 units in North San Jose.

1991 Sobrato and Apple join forces to redevelop De Anza Cupertino parcels owned by TSO for 870,000 sf Apple corporate headquarters.
1995 Company sells interest in build-to-suit headquarters for Apple Computer and further diversifies asset base through investment in marketable securities. Firm reaches $1 billion in assets.

1996 The family forms the Sobrato Family Foundation and begins awarding program support and cash grants to local nonprofits.
1997 John M. Sobrato takes over day to day operations of firm.

1999 The Sobrato Family Foundation begins a three-year Organizational Capacity Grants Initiative with The Peninsula Community Foundation and the Charles & Helen Schwab Foundation.
2001 Sobrato Affordable Housing Fund launches, helping fund nonprofit developers to create or preserve affordable rental and ownership properties, and homeless and transitional housing projects.

Company acquires 3,200 apartment units and diversifies further by investing in other west coast markets—from Seattle to San Diego.

Sobratos grant land valued at $9.3M in 2001 to the Morgan Hill School District for Ann Sobrato High School.

2002 The 5-building Sobrato Center for Nonprofits in Milpitas opens, providing 35 community organizations more than 100,000 square feet of free office space.
2003 The Sobrato Family Foundation adopts its "People and Places" Grantmaking Strategy.

2004 Sobrato Foundation Supporting Organization is established through the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Technology Enterprise Network receives a donated building from the Sobratos valued at $9.5M for research and development.
2005 Sobratos donate $5M to National Hispanic University for Sobrato Hall.

Santa Clara University receives $8.6M gift of real estate, now the Loyola Hall Office Building.

2006 Sobrato finally secures user for 488 Almaden in San Jose—an 18-story high rise completed in 2002.

Foundation celebrates 10-year anniversary by awarding nearly $250,000 in special grants to grantees.

Firm reaches $5 billion in assets. Holdings include 7,700 apartments units in 31 projects and 8.7 million square feet in 93 commercial buildings.

Santa Clara University receives $4.5M from Sobratos to build its Residential Learning Community.
2007 Firm donates its signature 18 story hi-rise building at 488 Almaden Blvd. to the Sobrato Family Foundation which sells the building to BEA Systems for $135 million increasing Foundation assets to over $225 million.

TSO completes the Netflix mixed-use development in Los Gatos—160,000 sf of office space with 290 residential units—its first mixed use project since its Bridgepointe development in San Mateo.

Sobratos give $20M to Santa Clara University for its Library and University Commons Capital Campaign.

Resource Area for Teachers (RAFT) receives $5M office and warehouse space from Sobratos.
2008 Sobratos open San Jose Center for Nonprofits, increase tenant list to 40, and add 105,000 square feet of rent-free office space to local nonprofits.

SEAL: Sobrato Early Academic Language PreK-3rd grade pilot program launches in Redwood City and San Jose Unified School Districts.

Firm name changed to The Sobrato Organization to acknowledge its mission has expanded beyond real estate development.

Bellarmine College Preparatory receives $10M donation from Sobratos for its Center for Humanities.

2009 Second set of Community Conference Center facilities at SCNP San Jose opens, increasing conference and meeting space available to Bay Area nonprofits.
2010 Value of TSO multifamily portfolio exceeds its commercial portfolio for the first time, capping the successful implementation of its diversification strategy begun in the early 1990s.

2011 Sobratos give $2.5M to Saint Francis High School for the Sobrato Family Learning Commons. TSO acquires its first significant property in the City of San Francisco with the purchase of the value-add 291,000 sf office building located at 500 Terry Francois Blvd. in Mission Bay.
2012 Sobrato Center for Nonprofits and Sobrato Community Conference Center in Redwood Shores opens, increasing the number of square feet of rent-free office space throughout the portfolio to 262,000, and the total square footage of free conference space to 28,000.

John A. Sobrato completes his pledge of $20M to Lucile Packard Childrens Hospital for the Sobrato Pavilion.

Family commits $5M to the public hospital Valley Medical Center for the Sobrato Pavilion.

John A. and Sue, along with John M. sign the Buffett-Gates Giving Pledge, promising to give 100 percent of their wealth away during their lifetimes.

Waldon West Outdoor School opens the Abby Sobrato Science and Sustainability Center, and honors her passionate support for the organization during her life.

The Sobrato Organization named 2012 Top Corporate Philanthropist in Silicon Valley, by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

2013 Sobrato Family Foundation hires long-time Silicon Valley resident and nonprofit leader Rick Williams as Chief Executive Officer, who joins in February 2013.

July 1, TSO announces hire of Hines veteran Rob Hollister as president of real estate, in charge of day-to-day operations of the firm.

The Sobrato Organization named 2013 Top Corporate Philanthropist in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times.

TSO named 2013 Top Corporate Philanthropist in Silicon Valley by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.