Quiet thin-filmsolarstartup Solyndra Inc. has applied to build a new manufacturing plant on a 1.4-million-square-foot site in Fremont, Calif.

According to an application that the company filed with the city planning department in May, the facility is expected to have the capacity to produce up to 450 megawatts worth of solar equipment.

The company, which makes solar panels out of copper, indium, gallium and selenium, is reportedly trying to raise $350 million, according to the Green Light blog (see posts here, here and here). In July, Phoenix Solar and Solar Power announced they had signed deals to buy panels from Solyndra.

The company already has a Fremont facility - a 183,000-square-foot building on Kato Road - that the application states is capable of producing 75 to 120 megawatts.

The latest proposal for the new facility, also slated for Kato Road, calls for 530,200 square feet of manufacturing space, 64,000 square feet of office space, an 11,450-square-foot cafeteria and a 4,000-square-foot employee fitness center, Steve Kowalski, an associate planner for Fremont, said Tuesday.

The company also plans to later build a 16,000-square-foot electrical substation to supply additional electric power to the plant, along with 119,300 square feet of mechanical equipment enclosures and an 11,800-square-foot enclosure for hazardous materials, he said.

The original application for the new facility at 47422 Kato Road called for a 580,000-square-foot manufacturing plant and 74,000 square feet of office space.

Solyndra expects to employ between 390 and 440 workers at the new facility, with a maximum of 590.

According to the application, the manufacturing part of the facility will require two 12-hour shifts with 120 employees on each shift, while the office part of the project will bring in between 150 and 350 employees. The plant will operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week, Solyndra wrote.

Solyndra projects that the new manufacturing plant will take approximately nine months to complete, followed by 14 more months of interior construction.

The factory's first production line was slated to be in operation by the beginning of 2010, with the full project - a total of six lines - expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2010, according to the application.

But that timeline could be pushed back because of the permitting requirements, Kowalski said.

The city has been conducting an environmental review and traffic study for the project and expects to complete a draft environmental document next week, he said. If nobody has significant objections to the report during a 30-day public review period, Fremont will hold a public hearing so the city zoning administrator can consider approving planning permits for the project.

Because the land already is zoned for industrial use, Solyndra doesn't need special permits that would need to be approved by the Planning Commission or the City Council.

But the company has asked for an exemption to exceed the city height limit by a couple of feet and will need to get the usual permits for storing and handling hazardous materials on the site, Kowalski said.

"This sounds like a big deal but isn't; a lot of industrial uses need this permit," he said

The company also is requesting a parking reduction. The city usually requires parking spaces depending on the square footage of the facility, but in this case, Solyndra plans to build a large facility that is not expected to bring in the equivalent amount of cars, Kowalski said.

The company plans to provide 546 parking spaces, enough for its expected employees and guests, and also has setting aside a portion of its site for additional parking should more become necessary, he said.

Unless objections to the environmental report arise, the zoning administrator is scheduled to conduct the public hearing Nov. 3.

"I don't think people will have much of a problem with a solar company," Kowalski said.

After that, the application will go through a 10-day appeal period, after which - if nobody's filed an appeal to the decision - the decision will stand. But the company still needs to get building permits before it begins construction, Kowalski said.

The process of getting building permits is likely to take at least six weeks, he said. Solyndra is trying to accelerate the process - it already has begun applying for building permits at the same time it applies for planning permits, he said.

Aside from its two Kato Road locations, Solyndra also has proposed a facility on Auto Mall Parkway and has a new facility on California Circle, which Kowalski said may be located in Milpitas, Calif. The road crosses through both Fremont and Milpitas.

The company did not return phone calls Tuesday.