SAN JOSE – A real estate alliance is driving five major projects that developers hope will transform every part of downtown San Jose while reinventing the development of cities and regions.
The new projects would renovate a historic skyscraper, develop eye-catching new towers, add hundreds of homes, build 5 million square feet of office space, add restaurants and retail stores, and create enough space for 40,000 workers, according to plans being circulated by global developers on the West Bank and local developer Gary Dillabough.
“What interests me in San Jose is that there is a canvas on which we can make a meaningful impact relatively quickly,” said Ian Gillespie, West Bank CEO.
The West Bank projects, combined with Google’s walk-through Downtown West neighborhood, could potentially transform the quiet downtown San Jose into a vibrant urban core.
The West Bank’s shiny new towers would replace stagnant parking lots and lots and renovate the historic Bank of Italy tower.
“This will create an amalgamation of world-class architecture in our downtown area,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in an interview on Tuesday.
The West Bank is planning a “San Jose Initiative,” which will consist of numerous development efforts.
“We want to make a difference. This is not an isolated case in some projects. We’ll have a long-term presence, ”said Andrew Jacobson, who leads the West Bank’s San Jose Initiative. Vancouver, in western Canada, is a city that the West Bank has focused on.
The West Bank initiative begins with five projects to be built in six locations in downtown San Jose. West Bank aims to create a new kind of downtown campus, possibly in a decade or more.
“Our ambitions are greater than those of the first six locations,” said West Bank. “These are the first projects in our San Jose initiative and the campus will continue to grow as we add new projects.”
Further projects are underway in the city center. Adobe is building a striking new office tower to expand the technology titan’s headquarters in downtown San Jose. Experienced developer Jay Paul is planning several new office towers.
The West Bank’s first projects are:
– The tower of the Bank of Italy. The 12 S. First St. project includes a full renovation, dramatic outside staircase, roof gardens and dining options.
– The energy hub. The parking lot on Fountain Alley at 35 S. Second St. This project would involve an eye-catching curved building with a 10-story atrium. The project comprises 437,900 square meters of office space and 194 apartments.
– The orchard. The Valley Title property on 300 S. First St. and the Bo Town property on 409 S. Second St. would add 520 homes, as well as offices, retail and restaurant space.
– Arbor, a location adjacent to the Davidson Building at 255 W. Julian St., would add a liaison office and retail tower for a total of 512,000 square feet.
– Park Habitat, 180 Park Ave. This project consists of 1.2 million square feet of office, retail, and expansion space. Park Habitat would have a sunken garden to connect office workers and pedestrians with nature.
“The West Bank understands the potential of downtown, and it becomes clear when you look at their plans,” said Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association. “The vertical courtyard and sunken garden in your Park Habitat design are spectacular elements.”
Hayes Davidson / West Bank
Hayes Davidson / West Bank
Bjarke Ingels Group / West Bank
Hayes Davidson / West Bank
James KM Cheng Architects / West Bank
Kengo Kuma and coworkers / West Bank
Studio aisle / West Bank
Most of the five projects will have to work their way through the city’s approval process. Park Habitat’s development and a complete overhaul of the Bank of Italy tower are expected to be the first to begin construction.
Silicon Valley’s breathtaking advances in technology and life sciences have sparked a third industrial revolution – creating a region dotted with industrial parks, walled campuses, and highways clogged with vehicles.
“An industrial park is not a community,” said West Bank. “An industrial park is practically a disguised version of a Dickensian workhouse.”
Placing projects in the urban core of San Jose that will be served by the railroad lines at Diridon Station can address some of these traffic problems.
“Developing the West Bank with Google and Jay Paul will enable BART and Diridon Station to be successful transportation hubs,” said Bob Staedler, chief executive of Silicon Valley Synergy, a land use consultancy.
The Canada-based West Bank sees downtown San Jose as an inviting canvas.
“The underdeveloped downtown San Jose gives us the opportunity to create and curate a vibrant, urban environment,” said West Bank. “San Jose is a city with big bones” that could become “a city of the next generation”.
This future city has certain characteristics, said Jacobson of the West Bank.
“Living healthy in a city is about sustainable building, access to fresh air, access to greenery, access to inspiring architecture,” said Jacobson. “It’s not just about San Jose, it’s about Silicon Valley, it’s about California. The status quo is not working. People who sit in traffic for two hours. That kind of California doesn’t inspire us. “
The West Bank plans can make a difference, said the mayor.
“The West Bank comes to San Jose with a sensitivity to the long-held aspirations of our community,” Liccardo said. “At the same time, they see a tabula rasa in many underdeveloped parts of our city center. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a difference in a major American city. “