Google’s grand vision of turning 80 acres of land just west of downtown San Jose into a mega campus with thousands of housing units, new jobs, and retail stores cleared a major hurdle on Wednesday. evening with the unanimous approval of the city planning commission.
While San Jose City Council is deciding whether to give the tech giant’s proposed transit village the official green light next month, the committee’s strong support bodes well for one of the biggest development projects in Silicon Valley history.
“This is an opportunity for our residents to stay here, to enjoy it, to have better parks, to have better transportation, streets, bike paths and pedestrian walkways and really do downtown l lively place we always wanted it to be. », Declared the President of the Commission, Mariel Caballero. “I think this is a step in the right direction for the longevity of our city, dynamism and sustainability.”
Alexa Arena, Google’s director of development in San Jose, called for the overwhelming support of commissioners and dozens of residents who called Wednesday night “yet another milestone of people showing up and contributing to their community so we can all create a really great place together. “
Google’s development proposal, dubbed Downtown West, calls for the construction of 7.3 million square feet of office space, 5,900 residential units, 500,000 square feet of retail space and 300 hotel rooms .
In return for the city’s support for Google’s transit-focused village, where up to 20,000 people could work, Google offered to provide $ 200 million in community benefits – a deal that turned some of the project’s oldest and harshest critics into staunch supporters.
The deal between San Jose and Google will not only set aside 1,000 affordable housing units, but create a $ 150 million community fund for efforts to tackle displacement, homelessness and affordable housing – resounding concerns raised by community members throughout the planning process.
Kiyomi Yamamoto of the Silicon Valley Law Foundation said Wednesday that Google’s pledges made under the development agreement “will ensure that those most at risk of displacement benefit, especially people of color.”
“We hope other companies will see this agreement as the bar for responsible corporate citizenship… and we look forward to seeing this finalized as the minimum standard for future development agreements,” said Yamamoto.
Kathy Sutherland, a San Jose resident who lives within walking distance of the proposed development, said Google had an “open door” with neighborhood leaders for months as they refined their plans.
“They’re not just listening to our concerns – they’ve listened and acted,” she said. “We know there are years of change and development to come, but we look forward to working with Google and the city.”
But despite the near-unanimous support Wednesday night from community members, Google’s project and the proposed development surrounding it have an extremely vocal opponent: the San Jose Sharks.
Since late last year, the Sharks have publicly filed complaints about Google’s Downtown West project. jeopardize the viability of the SAP center and force the arena to leave San Jose. And despite more than 70 meetings between the city and the Sharks, Jonathan Becker, president of Sharks Sports and Entertainment, again said earlier this week that the city and Google had made very few changes to the plans.
The Sharks are asking the city to double the minimum parking requirement to 4,800 spaces to provide participants with the necessary access to the facility, officials said. But during an interview on Monday on the Teal Time USA podcastBecker said he had two other major issues with the proposed development: increased street congestion due to narrow street plans in the area and a number of massive development and infrastructure projects taking place directly around the area. SAP center simultaneously and without clear construction and circulation. mitigation plan.
Google’s mega campus, to be built north and south of the SAP Center, is just one part of the larger plan of the San Jose Diridon station area – a plan that will be used by planners and developers to guide growth on a total of 250 acres of land surrounding San Jose’s Diridon Station and SAP Center.
According to the plan, which was also approved by the commission on Wednesday night, the remaining parts of the Diridon station area outside of Google’s project footprint could see a wide range of new developments over the next two decades, in the form of 6.4 million square feet. of office space, 7,000 housing units and 536,000 square feet of retail space.
In addition to the potential for a dramatic increase in development in the region, the city is also planning the massive redevelopment of the city’s transit hub Diridon Station, the extension of BART through downtown San Jose and the possible addition of light at high speed. Caltrain rail and electrification, all of which would be linked to the station one block from the SAP Center.
Becker fears the city will make decisions without a clear plan, which could create long-term traffic problems on the road.
“If we’re all wrong about parking, you can fix that in 10 to 20 years, because you can build a parking garage,” Becker said on the podcast. “But if we have the wrong road network and you narrow the lanes and put up buildings, it’s not curable.”
Nonetheless, the planning commission sided with residents, affordable housing and transit advocates who urged them to move forward with the project and get away from it all. San Jose’s long history of over-parking, which only feeds more traffic and congestion problems.
“The Diridon station area needs to maximize access for people, not cars,” said Fred Buzo, director of San Jose for the public policy organization SPUR. “It’s entirely possible for a mixed-use downtown environment and the SAP hub to not only coexist but to thrive.”