SAN JOSE — Google has rearranged the configuration for a key section of the transit village that the tech titan has proposed for downtown San Jose, in a move to help the project be more friendly to its neighbors.
Downtown West is the name that Google is using for its development. The mixed-use community is arguably the most crucial project in decades — and perhaps longer — for downtown San Jose.
The transit village would sprout on the western edges of San Jose’s urban core near the Diridon train station and SAP Center, and also would serve to dramatically extend the boundaries of what now is traditionally thought of as the city’s downtown.
Now, Google has crafted changes for a section of the transit village near the corner of West Santa Clara Street and Delmas Avenue where a mix of office towers and high-density residential projects are being planned as just one part of the tech titan’s development.
“There are a lot of residential neighborhoods where we want to think about how our edges transition into those neighborhoods in a really fluid way,” Alexa Arena, Google’s director of real estate development, said in a previous interview with this news organization.
The property, known as the San Jose Water Company site, effectively would serve as one of the gateways to the Google transit village and is a key segment that would connect the Diridon train station area to the existing core section of downtown San Jose. The water company property is bounded by West Santa Clara Street, the Guadalupe River, West San Fernando Street, and Los Gatos Creek.
The original plans submitted by developer Trammell Crow would have placed residences next to Los Gatos Creek and facing the train station, and office towers next to West Santa Clara Street and West San Fernando Street.
But those office buildings in the original proposal would have towered over a quiet residential area known as the Lakehouse historic district. A number of the Lakehouse neighborhood homes are a century old, some date back to 1885, and some are Queen Anne-style residences.
Google’s new configuration will place the office buildings close to Santa Clara Street, and the residences near the Lakehouse neighborhood.
“We flipped the office and the housing,” Ricardo Benavidez, manager of community development with Google, said during an interview with this news organization. “We want this to blend with the existing neighborhoods.”
Mountain View-based Google says that it generally has an approach to align residential in the project with existing residential areas and to align project office components with current office sites. Plus, at the heart of the site will be retail, cultural, educational, and small business components.
“This is a testament to Google’s sensitivity,” said Mark Ritchie, president of real estate firm Ritchie Commercial. “They are sensitive to the relationship between what will be in the project and the existing mixed-use and residential neighborhoods.”
Google has held numerous community meetings and undertaken a considerable level of community outreach to engage and inform the project’s neighbors.
“Working with the city planning department and very closely with neighborhood groups to see how best to integrate into the fabric of the community is the right approach,” said Erik Hayden, managing partner with Urban Catalyst, which is an active developer and investor in downtown San Jose.
The transit-oriented community that Google envisions in downtown San Jose would consist of office buildings, housing, hotel facilities, shops, restaurants, parks, and cultural amenities. The search giant where the search giant would employ 25,000 people.
“Google continues to show it is not only listening, and learning, from community input, but that you can proceed in a logical way that is also visionary,” said Carl Guardino, president of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. “It’s logical to have homes go near homes, and offices to go near offices. Yet this is still visionary.”
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