For its “Downtown West” project, Google will develop 80 acres of land in downtown San Jose, including 7.3 million square feet of office space for 20,000 workers and thousands of homes. This is Google’s first mixed-use campus and will be one of the largest when completed. San Jose City Council unanimously approved the company’s plans on Tuesday night, and several council members held back tears.
The approval comes as Google aims to model a move away from closed tech campuses to stem growing alienation from tech companies, whose success has contributed to a shortage of affordable housing and major cultural shifts in Silicon Valley and ‘other technological poles. Google, which is redoubling its efforts to get workers back to offices amid the weakening pandemic, is also planning another massive, city-like hub just 10 miles up the road in Mountain View.
“There is a tremendous amount of distrust of government and suspicion of Big Tech and it could have been easy for many in our community to simply succumb to slogans and simplistic thinking, but thousands of people have rolled up their sleeves, ”San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said at Tuesday’s meeting. “Rather than jumping into one camp or another, community members pushed and pushed, and urged the city and Google to stretch and reach higher. “
Liccardo went on to thank community groups, Google and parent company Alphabet finance director Ruth Porat, and senior vice president Kent Walker, who he said “we’re determined to get through.”
“We want to thank the city and the community for years of commitment and true partnership,” Google’s director of development in San Jose, Alexa Arena, said Tuesday night. “Together, we’ve created the foundation for a fair, environmentally-minded place that represents the best of San Jose and Google. “
The Downtown West campus will include 4,000 housing units, of which 1,000 will be designated for a range of “affordable” housing. In the city of San Jose, skilled people “with very low income” – the lower end of social housing – earn 30% of the average average income. Exact house prices have yet to be determined, officials said.
Downtown West will also include up to 300 hotel rooms and 800 residences for short-term accommodation for Google business customers. Although Google owns the 80 acres, more than half of the project will be allocated to residential and public spaces and will include features such as parks, restaurants, retail spaces, entertainment spaces and viewing stations. ecological.
Construction on the project could start as early as next year, but is expected to take between 10 and 30 years to be fully built.
A four-year journey
On Tuesday night, while the San Jose city council meeting was still being held, the company struck a last-minute deal with the NHL team, the San Jose Sharks, who were the plan’s most vocal opponents. from Google, complaining about the lack of parking on offer for his house at the nearby SAP arena. In exchange for changes, the Sharks agreed not to sue the city or Google.
The Santa Clara County Airport Land Use Planning Commission rejected the project in December, citing concerns about the height of buildings on the way to the airport, but a unanimous city council vote overturned the rejection. of the commission.
Kent Walker, Google chief legal officer and vice president of global affairs, joined California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week as he organized the signing of Senate Bill 7 at the Downtown West site, who should benefit from the bill that accelerates major real estate developments.
“We are especially proud of the community fund that was created with local social equity organizations to give underserved communities a voice in areas where community investments should be made,” Arena said in a statement. Arena said the company has hosted more than 100 community feedback sessions.
Arena said late last year that after years of back-and-forth with the community, the company’s goal was “much less the corporate campus” and more “a resilient neighborhood.” .