Google and San Jose announce long-awaited development agreement for the Downtown West project

Google and San Jose on Tuesday released a long-awaited planned development agreement for a massive mixed-use office campus that could rise around Diridon Station.

The agreement describes the campus called Downtown West that Google wants to build in the country’s tenth largest city, but also the $ 200 million package for charitable services and about $ 1 billion for other “functions”, which Google would like to offer in exchange for the green light for the construction of the new campus.

The multinational technology giant is aiming to build offices with an area of ​​around 6.5 million square meters. However, his proposal studies the effects of building office space up to 7.3 million square meters.

These offices, some of which could reach heights of around 300 meters, would be surrounded by 4,000 new homes, a flood of hotel rooms, and 500,000 square feet of retail space. All of this would be within about 80 acres of the city’s transportation hub, which officials hope will eventually become one of the busiest transit stations on the west coast, where light rail, Caltrain, BART, and high-speed rail cross, and every day Carry 100,000 passengers.

“I’m proud that we worked with the City of San Jose, the community and local organizations to develop a Community Benefit Project Agreement that focuses on social justice and helps San José come back stronger from the effects of the pandemic,” said Alexa Arena. Google’s Director of Development in San Jose. “Downtown West is a great example of a new approach to development that puts community first.”

After completion, the mega-campus could employ around 25,000 people, according to Google. These jobs, along with the taxpayers’ money and social money the company has promised, would provide a lifeline for San Jose as it – and cities across the country – recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

“This makes San Jose a national model for how we can rebuild equitably after this pandemic, as cities across the country will have great problems addressing the epic unemployment and confusion in their communities,” he told San Jose Inside. “Through this partnership, San Jose is finding the path that will benefit our surrounding community for many years to come.”

A rendering of Google’s Downtown West development along San Fernando. (Courtesy of Google)

Community benefits

Part of that journey includes about $ 200 million in community benefits promised by Google, including a $ 150 million nest egg known as the Community Stabilization and Opportunity Pathways Fund. Google will add money to the new fund as its project builds, providing approximately $ 21.2 million per million square feet of office space, according to the city.

The project will likely take more than a decade to build, but some money would be pre-approved if, according to Google and city data, Google gets final development approval from the city’s elected officials.

When money goes into the fund, it is managed by a third party, while a committee made up of residents advises how the money should be spent, with an emphasis on things like historically underrepresented communities, affordable housing, homelessness prevention or services and support for Small business lies.

The development agreement also includes a promise to use local and diverse companies to build the project. Google also says it will donate nearly an acre of land ripe for affordable housing to the city and build about 1,000 affordable homes in its own residential buildings.

“We’re excited that Google’s announcement today includes a major Downtown West housing commitment proposal,” said Leslye Corsiglia, general manager of the nonprofit Silicon Valley @ Home. “As advocates of residential real estate, we hope that this measure will serve as a catalyst for residential development in the … Diridon Station Area, where up to 15,000 new apartments can be built.”

The tech giant has promised to host field trips, career days, and computer science workshops for students from underserved communities to attract students for STEM careers.

The development agreement is the result of years of negotiations not only with the city, but also with community groups that have emerged over the past few years to tell Google what they want from a campus on the western end of the city’s downtown area.

A major request concerned parks, public art, and the preservation of some buildings of historical importance. According to the development agreement, approximately 15 acres of parks, plazas and trails would wind through the 80-acre development during the 80-acre development. The Diridon Area Neighborhood Group [DANG]A community-led collective is happy about it.

“DANG values ​​Google’s willingness to work with neighbors now,” said Bob Staedler, a spokesman for the group. “You have laid the foundation for a long-term positive working relationship with all stakeholders in the region. DANG also values ​​Google’s contribution to new and existing parks and the programs that benefit the wider community. “

A rendering of the Google development in Downtown West. (Courtesy of Google)

A long way

It’s been nearly four years since San Jose officials gathered in a parking lot near the iconic Stephen’s Meats “Dance Pig” sign to announce the rumors were true: Google was considering a massive, mixed-use Corporate campus in the Diridon Station neighborhood – possibly up to 6 million square feet – and it could replace or reinvent the industrial-looking backdrop they had before that day.

The project would be a boon to San Jose, promised Mayor Sam Liccardo and other city council members standing side by side behind a portable podium. But first they would start negotiations with the tech giant to come up with a series of agreements on how it might develop. Nothing was certain, city officials repeated.

Even so, the buzz, excitement and – for some cautious residents – fear of the June 6, 2017 announcement has not subsided, even after a global pandemic.

Since then, the project has grown steadily. The office space proposed by Google alone would today exceed the 6 million square feet the company reportedly earmarked for overall development in 2017.

Now the question arises whether it will be approved after almost four years of negotiations and a revision of the guidelines and boundaries for zoning for the 262 hectare Diridon station, which will also be put to the vote this spring.

San Jose councilors tentatively expect to vote on the development deal on May 25th.

Until then, residents have several options to find out the details. The agreement will be presented to the Station Area Advisory Group (SAAG) on April 14th. The committee’s role is to recommend changes to the zoning and design guidelines around Diridon Station.

Thereafter, a community meeting on April 17th will precede a planning committee meeting on April 28th to discuss the details of the agreement.

Read the development agreement on the City of San Jose website.

A rendering of Google’s Downtown West development along Autumn Street. (Courtesy of Google)

Janice Bitters is the editor-in-chief for Metro Silicon Valley. Email Tips [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @janicebitters.

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