Google’s SJ ‘Downtown West’ Project Falls Behind Schedule

Google’s Diridon Station development was supposed to hit an important milestone this week. But city officials on Thursday said it’ll have to wait.

The draft environmental impact report for the tech giant’s plans to redevelop 60 acres next to Diridon Station was originally scheduled to be released on Tuesday.

As the deadline slipped by, Lori Severino, the city’s Diridon program manager, told Station Area Advisory Group (SAAG) members in an email that the environmental report and two other key documents around design guidelines and affordable housing goals for the Diridon Station area, will come out later this fall. The SAAG is tasked with recommending changes to the zoning and design guidelines around Diridon Station.

“The team is still working on it,” she said.

But she didn’t reveal exactly when the city intends to release the documents.

City officials said earlier this year that some developments had fallen behind during the early days of the coronavirus shutdown.

Severino’s email says the plans will likely be released after Sept. 24, the day the City Council was scheduled to hold a study session to discuss the report. City officials are working to reschedule that session, Severino said.

The SAAG was convened by the city in 2018 to study the 236 acres around Diridon Station on the west side of downtown and recommend changes to the city’s current Diridon Station Area Plan. That plan governs what kind of development can rise around the major transit hub and other design guidelines, including building heights.

Google’s development is only a small part of the Diridon Station Area Plan.

Now, drafts of both plans will be released this fall to guide the future of development on the entire west side of downtown.

If Mountain View-based Google gets the green light on its proposal, it’ll turn a low-slung, mostly industrial area into more than 10 million square feet of office, apartments, retail space and hotels. The draft amendments to the larger Diridon Station Area Plan, known as the DSAP, are expected to incorporate Google’s plans.

Reports on both those proposals will be released later this year with the city’s first stab at an Affordable Housing Implementation Plan, which would outline how officials intend to ensure 25 percent of the housing built in the area will be below market rate.

“We are planning for a series of public meetings and engagement activities associated [with these] these key milestones over the next few months,” Severino’s email said.

The first of those public meetings will happen today, when officials offer an update on the Diridon Station Area Plan and Google’s project—known as Downtown West—to the Diridon Joint Policy Advisory Board in the afternoon.

The SAAG will also meet Sept. 16 to discuss the Diridon Station area.

Notably, the delay comes as Google races toward an end-of-year deadline to get the city’s and governor’s stamp of approval on its project to qualify for a state development streamlining program called AB 900.

Earlier this year, Kim Walesh, San Jose’s economic development director, said the city would petition the state to extend the AB 900 program deadline due to the pandemic.

Covid-19 halted or slowed many real estate projects in California, and an extension would benefit all of the state's AB 900 developments, she said.

So far, however, Google's approval deadline for the program remains unchanged, according to the governor's office.

Janice Bitters is managing editor for Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @janicebitters.

4 Comments

  1. Google says it will do many things.

    Will get you do a lot of their job.

    Then will just stop returning calls, more so than normal, because they are the worst to do business with.

    I do not envy any who ends up living in the half finished, because they will only half finish it, when they need service.

    You shouldn’t have shook them down for stuff they will never deliver on, you should have never let them buy the land in the first place.

    Do not trust Google.

  2. There is a delay from September 24th to the Fall (maybe October 2020). It is reasonable though considering the pandemic.

    However, Google is still working with the city of San Jose to identify public space investments as a token show of good faith. One such current project fits right in as noted below.

    Reach 5 of the Los Gatos Creek Master Plan (completed in 1985), the section of the trail is planned between Auzerais Ave and Santa Clara Street, is the last remaining unconstructed segment of the 85-100 mile Los Gatos Trail network.

    The Reach 5B/C Segment (Auzerais Ave to South Montgomery St.) Plan for financing is now approximately 90% complete and already approved for a potential $2,000,000 in funding from the VTA.

    The 5 B/C program would run the Los Gatos Trail from the Monte Vista Water Tower down under West San Carlos Street to South Montgomery St. along side the current Fire Department Training Facility property which is now owned by Google.

    For Google to invest in the development of this City of San Jose Trails Reach B/C’s completion the Guadalupe River Downtown San Jose, would certainly be a token program to show sincerity in the developmental Of Downtown West Project.

  3. The San Jose City Council seems intent on selling valuable community assets and resources to private sector profiteers. City-owned land in and around Diridon Station is already slated to be sold to Google. Now there is talk City officials are considering selling part of the City’s sub-surface to Telsa (https://sanjosespotlight.com/san-jose-city-council-driverless-transportation-hub/) for a project that will mainly serve the relatively well-off West Side (all the way to Cupertino apparently) and the gentrifying Downtown area (just like the Google project). What’s next? Selling San Jose’s air space to Space X?

    The City owns a portfolio of assets some of which produce–or have the potential to produce–significant revenues for the City. Most prominent is the San Jose Airport, the most important revenue-generating asset prior to the COVID-19 crisis (https://www.sanjoseca.gov/home/showdocument?id=33542). But there are the San Jose (McEnery) Convention Center, South Hall, the California Theater, the Center for Performing Arts, the Montgomery Theater and San Jose Civic in the portfolio as well (https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/san-jose-mcenery-convention-center–san-jose-theaters-are-first-in-northern-california-to-receive-gbac-accreditation-301099202.html), as are a series of museums, parks and recreational facilities, community centers, buildings, parking lots and parcels (the City owns hundreds of acres of vacant land, mostly concentrated near Alviso as indicated here https://www.sanjoseca.gov/home/showdocument?id=23959). Many of these earn rental and other income through leases or partnership agreements. The Childrens’ Discovery Museum and Happy Hollow Park which, up to the period before the COVID-19 pandemic shut it down, was run with a surplus (https://happyhollow.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/HHF-Annual-Report-2019.pdf), are two of my favorites.

    The neoliberal virus (https://prospect.org/economy/neoliberalism-political-success-economic-failure/), which has infected many City politicians in recent decades, now holds sway among the majority on the Council. Neoliberalism serves as a cheap (and eroneous) ideological weapon that seeks to stigmatize, ostracize and debase the notion that government can deliver public goods and services in an equitable and efficient way.

    Last year the City completed the sale of the Hayes Mansion (https://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2019/02/11/san-jose-hayes-mansion-sale-jma-ventures.html;https://sanjosespotlight.com/san-jose-hayes-mansion-slated-for-new-name-major-renovation/), a property that could well have been made into a well-managed and reasonably-priced city-owned hotel, conference center and banquet facility. Between 2002-2016, there was an intense debate about selling off two of the three City-owned golf courses but the City still owns the land on all three and operates one profitably itself (San Jose Municipal (on Oakland Road).

    No doubt, neoliberals will continue to push for dismantling the City’s asset portfolio in the interests of “fiscal responsibility”, but residents would do well to keep in mind that the City of Santa Clara owns “business type” assets (e.g. electric utility, water utility, sewer utility, water recycling utility, Mission City Cemetery, Santa Clara Convention Center, Levi’s Stadium, etc.) that collectively bring in more than twice the revenues collected from government operations (taxes, fees). Such publicly-owned enterprises allow that city to maintain superior infrastructure, facilities and services for its 128,000 residents at lower cost (see the easy to follow June 2019 financial report https://www.santaclaraca.gov/home/showdocument?id=65838). In other words, publicly-owned enterprises make Santa Clara a more affordable place to live.

    Given San Jose’s inferior results, residents here would do well to start promoting politicians and policies that will increase–rather than decrease–the City’s ownership of net revenue-generating enterprises serving City residents. They would do well to follow Santa Clara’s lead in all this and focus on real advances in public housing/affordable housing projects specifically. Using publicly-owned assets to advance publicly-owned enterprises would, as in the case of Santa Clara, increase revenue stability and fiscal maneuverability, both of which are being severely tested by the COVID-19-induced fiscal crises. Anyone want to place a bet on which city will best weather this storm?

  4. Google is much worse than your run of the mill private profiteer. Yet the Democratic Party loves them.

    There is no talking to these people. While many in the party are highly ideological, Democrat Leaders are not ideological, essentially it has been an urban clearing house for favors for centuries. It takes on whatever ideology required to harvest votes to trade for goodies, which results in wealth for the leadership and access to programs to harvest more votes. Like an evil virtuous cycle.

    This is why you are so frustrated, they amplify your message to make it seem like they are doing something and believe in you, but they never do anything and in the end always seem to sell out, right? Why? Because who else are you going to vote for? Republicans? They know this. Dems own your vote and they trade up for personal favors (insider trading, projects for their spouses, green energy boondoggles) or programs to chisel away GOP suburb voters. Its just a matter of time before AOC sees the light and becomes Sith Lord Pelosi’s Apprentice, Screw Prada she’ll take Chanel thanks.

    As far as I can see the Democratic Party is where progressive ideas go to die.

    The ironic thing is progressive ideas normally create unintended consequences that massively favor Republicans. While Democratic give away schemes generally favor large corporations.

    Its all quite strange.