Main makeover with a view of the historic tower in downtown San Jose

SAN JOSE – A dramatic overhaul of the Bank of Italy’s historic office tower in downtown San Jose is in the works and would include a major renovation inside and outside the landmark landmark, as city officials’ plans indicate.

“The San Jose landmark is finally getting the attention it deserves,” said Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association.

The Bank of Italy building is slated to undergo one of the greatest renovations of all time based on a proposal from the joint venture that now owns the historic landmark.

“This incredibly costly and worthy renovation should make the tower the historic beacon for downtown San Jose,” said Mark Ritchie, president of Ritchie Commercial, a real estate company.

Roof gardens, an outside staircase and noticeable improvements on the ground floor are in the works for the building on 12 S. First St., as the plans of the city officials show.

“This renovation takes advantage of all three distinctive facades, Santa Clara Street, Fountain Alley and First Street,” said Knies.

The design includes energy efficiency, historical character and the region’s favorable weather, said Knies.

“This will be one of the most visually impressive projects in downtown San Jose,” said Nick Goddard, senior vice president of Colliers International, a commercial real estate company.

In 2019, the Canada-based West Bank partnered with Urban Community, led by Silicon Valley developer Gary Dillabough, to jointly own and drive six major projects in downtown San Jose that involve renovations like the bank of Italy Tower or Big trades development projects.

“It’s great to see the investment planned for such a gem of a building,” said Bob Staedler, managing director of Silicon Valley Synergy, a land use and planning consultancy.

The historic Bank of Italy building appears to be one of West Bank-Gary Dillabough’s first projects.

“We owe a lot to Gary and his Canadian partners,” said Ritchie. “These older historic buildings are more a labor of love and symbolism than short-term profit.”

The proposal outlines major changes to the tower. This emerges from an application from the West Bank, a prestigious company that is one of the world’s largest development companies, at San Jose City Hall.

“New windows, a stair tower, a new roof terrace and a new facade along Brunnengasse” are among the key components of the renovation, modernization and development proposal by the Westbank and Urban Community company.

  • West Bank projects USA

    Historic Bank of Italy high-rise office building at 12 S. First St. in San Jose shows proposed stair tower, concept. A dramatic overhaul of a historic office tower in downtown San Jose is in the pipeline and would include roof gardens, an outside staircase, noticeable ground floor improvements, and a bottom-up renovation.

  • West Bank projects USA

    Historic Bank of Italy office tower at 12 S. First St. in downtown San Jose, street view, concept. A dramatic overhaul of a historic office tower in downtown San Jose is in the pipeline and would include roof gardens, an outside staircase, noticeable ground floor improvements, and a bottom-up renovation.

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  • West Bank projects USA

    Proposal for a roof garden (L) and an alternative proposal for a rooftop pool (R) to be built above Brunnengasse as part of a major renovation of the Bank of Italy’s historic office tower in downtown San Jose. A dramatic overhaul of a historic office tower in downtown San Jose is in the pipeline and would include roof gardens, an outside staircase, noticeable ground floor improvements, and a bottom-up renovation.

  • West Bank projects USA

    Fountain alley canopy entrance on South First Street next to Bank of Italy historic tower in downtown San Jose, concept. A dramatic overhaul of a historic office tower in downtown San Jose is in the pipeline and would include roof gardens, an outside staircase, noticeable ground floor improvements, and a bottom-up renovation.

  • West Bank projects USA

    Dome and spire of the Bank of Italy office tower in downtown San Jose, concept. A dramatic overhaul of a historic office tower in downtown San Jose is in the pipeline and would include roof gardens, an outside staircase, noticeable ground floor improvements, and a bottom-up renovation.

  • West Bank projects USA

    Two views of the historic high-rise of the Bank of Italy office in downtown San Jose, including perspective (L) and detailed (R) views of a proposed stair tower, concept. A dramatic overhaul of a historic office tower in downtown San Jose is in the pipeline and would include roof gardens, an outside staircase, noticeable ground floor improvements, and a bottom-up renovation.

  • West Bank projects USA

    New entrance at 12 S. First St. for the historic Bank of Italy tower in downtown San Jose, concept. A dramatic overhaul of a historic office tower in downtown San Jose is in the pipeline and would include roof gardens, an outside staircase, noticeable ground floor improvements, and a bottom-up renovation.

  • West Bank projects USA

    Historic Bank of Italy tower of downtown San Jose viewed from North First Street and West Santa Clara Street, concept. A dramatic overhaul of a historic office tower in downtown San Jose is in the pipeline and would include roof gardens, an outside staircase, noticeable ground floor improvements, and a bottom-up renovation.

Key proposals when filing for the Bank of Italy skyscraper include:

– A stair tower that winds up the south side of the building next to South First Street and Fountain Alley.

– A roof terrace and a garden. A rooftop pool could be built in the future.

– A new facade and a new entrance roof lead to Fountain Alley on South First Street.

– New exterior lighting and signs.

– Repairs and minor changes to the storefronts on the first floor along East Santa Clara Street, South First Street and Fountain Alley.

– A facelift to the existing entrance on South 1st Street and a new entrance on East Santa Clara Street.

– Cleaning and maintenance of historical facades as well as necessary repairs.

– Comprehensive tenant improvements in the building. According to the project proposal, new mezzanine rooms will be developed.

“By bringing Fountain Alley into the project and opening up to Santa Clara Street, you can activate at the street level, eliminate the problems of Fountain Alley and avoid the ‘secluded island’ status that is common in high-rise office buildings,” said Goddard.

The 13-story Bank of Italy building was built in the mid-1920s and is considered the most famous office tower in downtown San Jose. The building is an example of the Beaux-Arts architectural style in the Mediterranean style. The tower is a San Jose Historic Landmark and is on a National Register of Historic Places.

The West Bank’s involvement in the Bank of Italy building as well as several other projects in downtown San Jose could, according to observers, cause far-reaching changes in the urban core of the largest city in the Bay Area.

“Bank of Italy 2.0 will set the cool factor and set the tone for what we can expect with their future developments,” said Staedler. “Your attention to detail and your focus on high quality development are amazing.”

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