Google could restart Downtown West with housing project in San Jose

A developer met with city officials to discuss options for a former hardware store site

Google's Sundar Pichai with a rendering for Downtown West in San Jose (Google, Getty)
Google's Sundar Pichai with a rendering for Downtown West in San Jose (Google, Getty)

Google, which last year hit pause on its Downtown West transit village in San Jose, may hit the start button with an affordable housing project.

The Mountain View-based tech giant pitched an unspecified affordable housing development on a part of a defunct Orchard Supply Hardware store site at 720 West San Carlos Street, reported.

After this year’s demolition of the building, Google is evaluating its affordable housing development options at the site, according to company spokesman Ryan Lamont.

If a development proposal proceeds, it would mark Google’s first project in the 80-acre Downtown West transit village, which originally called for the development of thousands of homes, offices and shops and restaurants near Diridon Station., 

But Downtown West, which was supposed to have broken ground last year, stalled in April when the tech titan paused development, sending shock waves through San Jose and Silicon Valley.

The centerpiece of Downtown development was to include 4,000 homes, 7.3 million square feet of offices, 500,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, a community center and 15 acres of parks. Its economic impact was estimated at $19 billion.

Google, after laying off workers across the Bay Area and announcing a $500 million cost to exit offices worldwide, in February last year said it was re-assessing its timeline for Downtown West.

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A decision by Australian construction firm Lendlease to sail away from $15 billion in homes, offices and shops proposed by Google last fall pushed the Downtown West project back even further.

The prospect for affordable housing on the Orchard Supply site rose when four San Jose city officials met late last month with one or more executives of Jamestown LLC, Google’s development partner for Downtown West.

“Advancement of affordable site, potential development agreement amendment” was listed as the topic of the meeting.

The Jamestown executive met with San Jose’s planning director, economic development director, housing director and deputy city manager, according to information posted on a San Jose city site that details meetings that city leaders, including politicians, have with lobbyists.

The full details of the meetings between Google and the San Jose administrators weren’t immediately available. The size of the proposed affordable housing project isn’t known.

— Dana Bartholomew

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