SAN JOSE – The new projects in downtown San Jose aim to transform the urban core of the community into a “15-minute city” that can thrive in the coronavirus era.
The idea is to give people the opportunity to live, work, play and enjoy their free time in a confined space.
Development efforts like those proposed and elaborated by Google, the West Bank Gary Dillabough team, Jay Paul Co., and Urban Catalyst could transform downtown San Jose into such a state-of-the-art city.
Now experts from Lendlease, a developer who works with Google on multiple projects, and SITELAB urban studio, a major urban development company, are working on projects in downtown San Jose and other parts of Silicon Valley to unite the 15-minute city local place to make a reality.
“San Jose is a very interesting city. As in many other cities, there are lively pockets and pockets that don’t have much going on, ”said Rob Deck, a lendlease manager who works as the real estate company’s development director for Google Ventures. “We want to create a 15-minute city in the areas where we develop.”
According to Laura Crescimano, general manager and co-founder of urban studio SITELAB, Downtown West, Google’s walk-through neighborhood, is expected to contain all the elements of a 15-minute city.
“The idea is that the things you need are all within 15 minutes of where you live,” said Crescimano. “Your home, work, shopping, restaurants, parks, entertainment, playgrounds, you can walk or bike and be there within 15 minutes.”
According to experts, the 15-minute city was created in 2020 with Carlos Moreno, a France-based professor and Paris City Hall envoy for smart cities.
“The quarter-hour city that is in a compact area, or the half-hour area in a half or sparse area, is very close and accessible to everyone at all times,” Moreno wrote on his blog.
Ideally, the city planners believe that the 15-minute distance is accessible on foot, by bike or by transit.
“This is a city where residents can access their essential living needs in less than 15 minutes,” Moreno wrote.
Gateway area of Google’s Downtown West development in downtown San Jose, West Santa Clara Street area, concept. // Google LLC
New projects transforming into neighborhoods with all the necessities close to home as well as numerous amenities could become more popular in a world that is still coping with the coronavirus.
After a year, many residents of city cores around the world had to get used to curbing or stopping visits to hugely popular downtown destinations.
Getting stuck closer to home gives people the opportunity to visit small facilities near where they live, as popular websites have often been shut down due to government mandates related to coronavirus.
“The 15-minute city is older than COVID, but all the things we are experiencing have shed more light on this idea,” said Crescimano.
Free spaces are of crucial importance for the term. Lendlease is working with Google on plans related not only to Downtown West in San Jose, but also to two neighborhoods that the search giant plans to develop in Northern Mountain View near Googleplex headquarters.
“You can live in a wonderful part of town, like downtown San Jose, and your commute to work or home is through a park or a coffee shop,” Deck said. “The idea is to give people the choice to live close to work. You don’t always have to commute long to get to work. “
The 15-minute city is a sharp departure from traditional planning approaches. Conventional planning created a residential area, office center, retail center and park elsewhere.
“The idea now is to mix all of these things together and create them in one neighborhood,” said Crescimano. “You don’t want to live part of your life in one part of town and then another part on the other side of town. You want everything in one place. “
Google’s Downtown West transit village would be built next to and near the Diridon train station and the SAP entertainment center and would consist of office buildings, houses, restaurants, shops, entertainment centers, hotel facilities, cultural centers and parks.
The Google Village on the western edge of downtown San Jose can also bring life to a sleepy part of downtown. Deck believes the project can more firmly connect the transit station and SAP Center to the rest of the city center.
“It’s not a busy part of downtown San Jose,” Deck said. “It’s a canvas waiting to benefit from all of the things that create a 15-minute city.”