SAN JOSE – Two major projects in downtown San Jose, a new office and retail tower next to The Tech, and the Bank of Italy renovation and renewal of the Bank of Italy’s historic skyscraper, are driving construction through a project by a global real estate titan and a local developer .
Vancouver-based mega-developer Westbank and busy South Bay developer Gary Dillabough have teamed up on a series of ventures in downtown San Jose. The combined efforts are expected to bear fruit with separate projects to renovate the Bank of Italy tower and replace Parkside Hall with a development called Park Habitat.
“The Bank of Italy will anchor the historic district and is located in the kitty corner of the future downtown BART station on Santa Clara Street,” said Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association. “Park Habitat would complete the redesign of the entire Park Avenue corridor.”
Construction of an office tower at 180 Park Ave., once known as Museum Place and now called Park Habitat, is scheduled to begin this month. This is evident from sources familiar with the West Bank and Dillabough development plans.
The Parkside Habitat project is expected to have a total area of 1 million square feet including 900,000 square feet of office space, retail on the ground floor, and an expansion of adjoining The Tech.
The first phase of construction for Parkside Habitat will focus on moving utilities, followed by digging a huge hole for the foundation and tower. The existing Parkside Hall will be leveled to clear the way for the project.
With the Park Habitat Tower in the works, the stage is set for a dramatic makeover and revitalization of one of the most important sections of downtown San Jose.
Park Avenue is an important street as it points to the Fairmont Hotel, San Jose State University, and Cesar Chavez Plaza to the east, serves the theater and museum districts in the Almaden Boulevard area, and indicates Google’s groundbreaking Downtown West development to the west .
In addition to Park Habitat, two other major projects are in the works along Park Avenue, either next door or across the street: Jay Paul Co. is currently building an iconic office tower at 200 Park Ave. and intends to begin demolishing this year of CityView Plaza as the first phase of construction for a three-tower tech campus.
Park Avenue will become “a high-energy employment center,” Knies predicted.
Westbank and Dillabough have formed a joint venture that could lead to the development or redesign of office, retail, housing and entertainment projects.
“Downtown San Jose has kept pace with the introduction of international developer West Bank,” said Bob Staedler, chief executive of Silicon Valley Synergy, a land use consultancy. “The West Bank decision confirms that Gary Dillabough has doubled San Jose. Parkside Habitat will make Park Avenue the epicenter of redevelopment until Google lays the groundwork. “
A major upgrade that is actively developing is the Tower of the Bank of Italy at 12 S. First Street.
“We’re going back into gear and moving on,” said Dillabough on Wednesday. “We will restore the Bank of Italy to its original beauty.”
The bank is being extensively modernized, renovated and improved both inside and out.
“Downtown is very fortunate to have Gary Dillabough and his partners invest so heavily in San Jose,” said Mark Ritchie, president of Ritchie Commercial, a real estate company. “These are very daunting projects in any market, especially in a highly specialized but totally worthy historical rehab like the Tower of the Bank of Italy.”
Dillabough’s deal to bring West Bank on board for numerous projects in downtown San Jose already pays dividends and will bring more rewards over time.
“West Bank cares a lot about all of their projects,” said Dillabough. “The West Bank makes all the difference worldwide to what we do in downtown San Jose.”
The alliance with the West Bank will support Dillabough’s efforts on several projects.
“We’re not slowing down,” said Dillabough.