Boston Properties’ 2M sf office project in Downtown San Jose advances

The San Jose Planning Commission voted Wednesday to support Boston Properties’ plan to transform a large site within San Jose’s core that’s sat undeveloped for decades.

An artist's illustration of Boston Properties' Almaden Office Project (Boston Properties and Kohn Pedersen Fox)
An artist's illustration of Boston Properties' Almaden Office Project (Boston Properties and Kohn Pedersen Fox)

Boston Properties cleared a key regulatory hurdle on Wednesday in its proposal to turn a large surface parking lot in Downtown San Jose into two connected 16-story office towers.

The San Jose Planning Commission voted 6-3 on Wednesday, with two members absent, to recommend that the City Council approve the project, located near the southern edge of the city’s downtown. Totaling about 2.05 million square feet, the office development is one of the largest planned for the area and is directly north of a separate two-tower office project that the San Jose City Council approved at the end of June.

“This has been a section of the city that for decades has needed some level of economic boost,” commission chair Rolando Bonilla said during the commission’s meeting Wednesday evening. “San Jose is now at that level where we are transitioning into the world-class city we always knew we were, and now that maturation is actually happening.”

Boston Properties’ plan, as proposed, is to demolish a 3.57-acre site that’s now a public surface parking lot and construct two office buildings connected on their second, third and fourth levels. Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, the entire project would offer nearly 1.42 million square feet of office space, 37,603 square feet of retail and amenity space on its ground floor, and 1,279 parking spaces for cars. Its 283-foot height is the maximum allowed under Federal Aviation Administration guidelines.

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It’s the latest million-square-foot office project planned for Downtown San Jose, which continues to garner interest from all types of real estate developers. Caltrain plans to submit a preliminary proposal to the city next month for a 1.1-million-square-foot development at the doorstep to Diridon Station, San Jose’s main transit hub. If the project is approved, the commuter rail service intends to enter into a long-term ground-lease agreement with a private third-party development partner, in which the latter would finance and construct it.

Boston Properties is also overseeing the development of a 1.1-million-square-foot project about a half-mile north of Diridon Station that broke ground last year, although it’s since paused the construction of that three-building campus amid uncertainty about office demand and rents as the pandemic continues to keep many working at home. The publicly traded real estate investment trust has begun discussing the appropriate time for the restart of the project’s construction, president and director Douglas Linde said during the company’s most recent quarterly earnings call.

Representatives of Boston Properties did not say during Wednesday’s commission meeting whether the developer plans to start construction on its Almaden Boulevard development without any tenants lined up. The San Jose City Council will take up the project for approval at its Sept. 14 meeting.