Santen of Napa will move dozens of workers and its headquarters to Emeryville this year, the maker of eye-care products said this week.

About 65 Santen employees are expected to be relocated when the company moves. Santen rented 50,000 square feet of offices at 2100 Powell St.

"We expect our business will increase and there should be more demand for our products," said Mike Ford, a spokesman for Santen. "We expect to recruit more employees after the move."

Santen is a subsidiary of Japan-based Santen Pharmaceutical. In addition to being the U.S. headquarters, the Bay Area operations are the North American base for Santen Pharma's research and development operations. The ophthalmic pharmaceutical firm makes eye drops to help people cope with allergies, glaucoma and corneal ulcers.

"If you look at the aging of the population, we want to develop and commercialize more therapeutic products for the eye," Ford said. "Emeryville is centrally located in the Bay Area and we will have access to a strong talent pool in biopharmaceuticals. This should help with recruiting and to retain existing talent."

The company hopes it will be able to retain a large percentage of the 65 employees it now has in Napa. The move is planned for July.

"We have offered great relocation incentives for our workers in Napa," Ford said. "We hope that all of them will relocate. We have a great talent pool now."


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The Emeryville headquarters will provide better access to Bay Area airports and research centers, Santen executives said. The new site will also enable Santen's regional centers to work more effectively with each other and the Santen Pharma head offices in Osaka, Japan.

"Collaboration among our regional R&D organizations is a cornerstone of our strategy to accelerate our clinical development time lines," said Toshiaki Nishihata, Santen Inc.'s chief executive officer. "We also have easy access to UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley and Stanford, rich sources of intellectual capital and support for our R&D."

The Watergate high rise where Santen will move was never involved in the high-profile foreclosure and sale of three adjacent towers in the Watergate complex.

This deal will leave the 16-story, 345,000-square-foot office tower with a vacancy rate of 22 percent.

"It's good for the East Bay office market, since Santen is moving offices from Napa and Goleta," said William Nork, senior vice president with Cornish & Carey, a commercial realty firm.

The relocation could also bolster the local economy.

"This is great for Emeryville," Nork said. "It's the life sciences capital of the area. This further cements that status for Emeryville."

Contact George Avalos at 925-977-8477 and follow him at twitter.com/george_avalos.