North Face closing its Carbondale offices |

North Face closing its Carbondale offices

The North Face is packing up its sleeping bags, parkas and base camp, leaving Carbondale after a year and a half and going back to California.

The company announced Thursday that it plans to close its Carbondale offices, which employed about 70 people and was known as “Base Camp,” because it was located in modular office units.

The company, which makes high-end mountaineering and climbing gear and clothing, said it made the move to consolidate its headquarters operations in San Leandro, Calif.

Geoffrey Lurie, North Face’s chief executive officer, said, “Consolidating our corporate operations into one location will eliminate redundant expenses and provide a more controlled and focused approach to managing the business.”

Carbondale celebrated landing the high-paying jobs when the company’s Carbondale office opened in July 1998. It was staffed with marketing, research design and development, product acquisition, sales and executive pros who moved to Carbondale from San Leandro. They will be moving back to San Leandro in February.

Under then-CEO Jim Fifield, The North Face announced plans to build a substantial headquarters building on the Smith Property, south of Carbondale, a 36-acre parcel of land the company had purchased for $2.8 million.

Fifield, however, lost his job when his plan to take the company private flopped.

The North Face also suffered several financial setbacks under Fifield, which has caused its stock price to plummet from about $18 to about $4 a share. Those woes stalled the building plans.

According to Carbondale Mayor Randy Vanderhurst, the town recently negotiated a price of $700,000 to purchase eight acres of land originally leased from The North Face by the town for use as ball fields.

In addition, a promise North Face made to the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities to deed two acres of land still stands. However, according to Vanderhurst, the planned performing arts center will now be located next to the ball fields to share parking space.

The center site was originally located on a corner of the North Face land fronting on Highway 133 and accessed from Meadowood Drive. The center was to share North Face office parking.

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