Google gives land to San Jose that city is eyeing for new affordable homes

The property transfer is part of Google’s $255 million community benefits package the tech giant promised under its Downtown West mixed-use project plan

Google, led by CEO Sundar Pichai, has given a trio of properties to the city of San Jose (Getty Images, iStock)
Google, led by CEO Sundar Pichai, has given a trio of properties to the city of San Jose (Getty Images, iStock)

Google gave San Jose a trio of contiguous downtown properties where the city hopes as many as 240 affordable homes will sprout, a deal tied to the technology powerhouse’s vast transit village planned around the area’s main transit hub.

The parcels total about 0.8 acres and are a five-minute walk north of SAP Center, where the San Jose Sharks play home games. The site is now home to a handful of commercial and industrial buildings, two of which had been occupied by a vehicle repair shop.

Northern California’s most populous city is falling short of the state’s target for low-income housing production. By the end of last year, it had issued building permits for only about 17 percent of housing for those on very low incomes and 6 percent for low-income housing, according to California Department of Housing and Community Development data. It has about a year and three months to boost both of those numbers.

The sites Google gave to the city — 240, 250, and 260 North Montgomery Street and 255 North Autumn Street, one of which includes two addresses — may allow for about 200 new affordable housing units, according to Google’s 30-year development agreement with San Jose for its planned mixed-use village, dubbed Downtown West. The city hopes to bump that number up to 240, Nanci Klein, its economic development director, said in an interview on Wednesday.

A representative for Google didn’t follow up on a request for comment. The Mercury News earlier reported details of the company’s property donation to the city, which was recorded with the Santa Clara County Clerk-Recorder’s Office on Monday.

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Whether the homes end up getting built rests partly on whether the city rezones the area for residential use and its approval of whatever project ends up being proposed there, according to the development agreement.

The transfer of three properties from Google to the city is part of the company’s $255 million community benefits plan it outlined earlier this year under Downtown West.

“This is one of the first parts that the city is seeing come from the community benefits plan,” Klein said. Although Google didn’t have to transfer the land until early next year, the company is “delivering early on those promises.”

The city hasn’t picked a development partner or architect and hasn’t completed a timeline, Klein said. It takes about four years to conceptualize and build affordable housing in San Jose, she said.

Located around Diridon Station, the city’s main transit hub, Downtown West spans 80 acres and includes 4,000 new homes, 25 percent of which are designated as affordable, including the land Google is giving to the city. The project also includes up to 7.3 million square feet of office space, 500,000 square feet for so-called “active uses” such as restaurants, arts, and cultural spaces, and 300 hotel rooms.

The San Jose City Council unanimously approved Downtown West in May. Under a best-case scenario, it would reportedly take Google at least 10 years to fully build the development, although it has 30 years to complete it. The company hopes to begin building new roadways and other project-related infrastructure in 2022 and break ground on its first buildings in 2023.