Google is eyeing San Jose’s most prized real estate for future development, which could bring thousands of jobs to downtown and help the city realize its goal of creating a mass transportation hub.
Mayor Sam Liccardo announced Tuesday that city officials are in talks with the high-tech giant about building offices, retail and apartments around Diridon Station. The proposed development could add upward of 6 million square feet of office and research space and accommodate up to 20,000 jobs, according to city estimates.
“In partnership with Google, we can reimagine Silicon Valley’s landscape, by creating a vibrant, architecturally iconic, transit-focused village that provides a model for a more sustainable future, and a sharp departure from the sprawling, auto-oriented tilt-up tech campuses of the Valley’s past,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said. “The time has come for us to think boldly about the future of our city’s center. Silicon Valley’s center of gravity is shifting southward. As we build Diridon to become the busiest multi-modal station in the west, the tens of thousands who will commute here daily will know that they have arrived in Silicon Valley’s urban center, and that downtown San Jose has arrived.”
The project proposal includes massive investment in the long run, with striking architecture and publicly accessible plazas, paseos, street-level retail and public parks along the Los Gatos Creek. The development would link to light rail, Caltrain and, eventually, to a BART station slated for downtown. It would also include additional walkways and bicycle paths.
San Jose has long hoped to lure the Oakland A’s to the space by building a new ballpark across the street from SAP Center. But those plans never materialized, prompting city officials to court other opportunities. Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco celebrated the potential partnership by saying Google’s vision for the Diridon area could transform the heart of the city.
“Google’s interest in potentially laying down roots in San Jose will be transformational to the landscape of downtown and the entire city,” she said. “We have been working for a project like this for decades. The development of the Diridon area is at a critical juncture, this is the right place, the right time, with the right people, for the right reasons.”
Downtown Councilman Raul Peralez said Google’s ambition hews with the city’s blueprint for future growth. “I believe it is the best use for Diridon,” he said. “We share the company’s vision and look forward to working with them.”
Realizing that vision will require an elaborate partnership with tech companies, transit agencies and local government. It’s unclear if last month’s announcement that Caltrain will electrify the railways between Gilroy and San Francisco had any impact on Tuesday’s announcement. City officials are hopeful they can lay the groundwork by entering into an exclusive negotiations agreement with Google.
“Google’s interest in the Diridon Area is an affirmation of the growing value of the Diridon Station, downtown San Jose and the talent pool San Jose offers,” Kim Walesh, the city’s economic development chief, said in a press release. “We look forward to working with Google and stakeholders to bring forward a transformative project for Council consideration.”