Finally, it’s a done deal: Google will partner with San Jose to dramatically transform 80 acres around Diridon Station just west of downtown with apartments, stores, offices, parking and parks around a massive campus for the tech giant.
Tuesday night’s unanimous vote by the city council followed nearly four years of planning, hundreds of community meetings, protests and an 11th hour agreement with the San Jose Sharks and the SAP Center.
The historic decision was hailed in public comments before the council actions by business, labor and community leaders, as well as environmentalists, housing advocates and historic preservationists as transformative.
The project will add jobs, housing and scenic settings in an overlooked largely industrial area once considered as a site for an Oakland Athletics ballpark. The Downtown West plan will allow the construction of up to 5,900 residential units, and guarantee that 25 percent of the first 4,000 units built by Google will be affordable for low- and middle-income residents.
Google will be allowed to build up to 7.3 million square feet of office space, and the plan allows up to 500,000 square feet of retail and arts space, up to 300 hotel rooms; up to 800 limited-term corporate accommodations; up to two event and conference centers, plus warehouse space and approximately 15 acres of parks and open space along Guadalupe Creek.
The extends approximately one mile from north to south, and Is generally bounded by Lenzen Avenue and the Union Pacific railroad tracks to the north; North Montgomery street, Los Gatos Creek, the Guadalupe River, the Almaden Expressway, Barack Obama Boulevard, and Royal Avenue to the east; Auzerais Avenue to the south; and the Caltrain rail corridor and Cahill street to the west.
The 495-page agreement for Downtown West approved Tuesday, May 25, commits Google to fund a $200 million community benefits package and about $1 billion in other “features” in exchange for the green light for its new offices.
Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., this month had a market capitalization value of nearly $1.6 trillion, fifth largest in the world. The Google campus in San Jose could employ as many as 25,000 people, dwarfing other downtown payrolls.
Mayor Sam Liccardo last month told San Jose Inside; “This makes San Jose a national model for how we can rebuild equitably after this pandemic, as cities throughout the country will be struggling mightily to address epic levels of unemployment and dislocation in their communities.”
The project will likely take more than a decade to build, but a unique “predevelopment” payment scheme could have Google send $3 million to the city for community development projects as early as next month. A new committee made up of residents would advise how the money should be spent, focusing on things like historically underrepresented communities, affordable housing, homelessness prevention or services and small business assistance.
The development agreement also comes with a promise to use local and diverse businesses to construct the project.
The tech giant also has promised to host field trips, career days and computer science workshops for students that come from underserved communities to promote STEM careers to students.