Google clears hurdle for 80-acre project in Downtown San Jose

Downtown West would include up to 6K homes, 7.3M sf of offices, 500K sf of retail near Diridon Station

Google CEO Sundar Pichai with a rendering of the Downtown West project (Getty, SITELAB Urban Studio)
Google CEO Sundar Pichai with a rendering of the Downtown West project (Getty, SITELAB Urban Studio)

Google’s plan to build a mixed-use transit village of offices, apartments and shops and restaurants in Downtown San Jose has cleared a major development hurdle.

The San Jose Planning Commission unanimously approved the tech giant’s proposed 80-acre mega campus known as Downtown West, near Diridon Station, San Jose Spotlight reported. The City Council is expected to take the proposal up at a final hearing on May 25.

Plans call for somewhere between 4,000 and 5,900 housing units, 7.3 million square feet of offices, 500,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, a community center near the railroad station and 15 acres of Downtown parks.

To counter concern about gentrification and higher rents, Google pledged $200 million in community benefits in its 500-page development plan, including $150 million to a community fund.

Community fund grants issued would aim to preserve existing affordable housing, boost services for homeless residents and bolster protections for low-income renters.

Google has also offered to give the city four plots of land to build 800 affordable housing units and will pay an estimated $87 million in commercial linkage fees – a per-square-foot fee on office and industrial buildings – to fund affordable housing.

Google would also pay $1 billion toward public infrastructure.

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Before the pandemic, Google planned to have 25,000 employees work out of that new campus. That would likely change, given the tech firm some of its workers would be remote. 

Downtown West, about 15 miles east of the company’s Mountain View headquarters, has been five years in the making. It’s also met up with major headwinds.

In December, the Santa Clara County Airport Land Use Commission voted against the Google proposal and the city’s Diridon Station Area Plan, saying they don’t conform to height and noise standards for buildings near Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Because the commission voted against both plans, the City Council will need a two-thirds vote in favor of the project to override the airport commission.

The Downtown West project also threatens the South Bay’s hockey team, the San Jose Sharks, which says disruptions caused over the long term as the project is built could force it to leave San Jose. 

Team officials want the city to nearly double the parking spots in the plan to 4,800 spaces, with an eye on accommodating visitors to the SAP Center, the arena where the Sharks play. The team doubled down on its stance, urging fans to voice concerns to the Planning Commission and the City Council.

[San Jose Spotlight] – Dana Bartholomew

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