A spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday that the Mountain View-based company has snapped up seven parcels on the 1000 block of East Meadow Circle, as well as a small plot of undeveloped land on nearby Fabian Way.
But the company was not prepared to reveal its ambitions for the real estate, which totals nearly 15 acres.
Palo Alto has some concrete ideas about what should be done. A concept plan developed in 2010 for the industrial area calls for high-end research and development as well as related office uses, said Aaron Aknin, acting director of the city's Planning and Community Environment Department.
Aknin said the concept plan is one of two that will be incorporated into an amendment to a larger document that guides development in the city -- the comprehensive plan. With an environmental impact report still left to do, the city is a year or so away from adopting the amendment.
Google bought all of the properties from the Menlo Park-based California Pacific Commercial Group for $60 million to $70 million in cash, according to The Registry, a Bay Area real estate media company. A woman who answered a number for the group declined to comment.
If Google plans to redevelop the parcels for its own use, it would spell a return of sorts to Palo Alto. After outgrowing its initial workspace in a Menlo Park garage, the company opened its first office at 165 University Ave. in Palo Alto in February 1999. But by August of that year, Google had relocated to Mountain View.
Aknin said Palo Alto has neither heard from Google nor seen any of its plans for the parcels.
Other city officials were mixed in their reaction to news of the search giant's big land buy Tuesday.
"We're delighted to have Google come back to Palo Alto and we look forward to working with them on whatever their project ends up being," said Thomas Fehrenbach, the city's economic development manager.
Mayor Greg Scharff wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea of Google returning to Palo Alto. To him, the concept plan was about creating space for fledgling companies, not well-established giants.
"I want us to be the breeding ground for the world's technology," Scharff said. "Google is a great company. But I think that startups and innovation is what Palo Alto is all about. We need to try and preserve that as much as we possibly can -- at least provide opportunities for those companies to exist in Palo Alto."
To that end, Scharff said he hopes Google would set aside some incubator space similar to what AOL Inc. has done with its office building at 395 Page Mill Road in Palo Alto.
News of the purchase follows Google's decision to delay for up to one year construction of a 1-million-square-foot campus at the NASA-Ames Research Center in Mountain View. City officials in Mountain View have said the company is working to refine the architectural design of the project.
The Bay View campus is expected to house 3,500 to 5,000 employees and is located just a short distance from the main headquarters complex of Google at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway.