Google plans shift Earth on downtown’s westside

Letter from the President:

SJDA President

StanThe possibility of Google taking the lead in the development of the Diridon station area is the most exciting news we have seen for downtown San Jose since the vote to approve an arena almost 30 years ago.

In my role as board president of the San Jose Downtown Association, I can’t help but remember a discussion we had a few years ago about what would be a truly transformational opportunity for our downtown.

At that time, we discussed a ballpark for the A’s near Diridon station, but nobody saw the arrival of Google and up to 20,000 workers as a possibility. Google’s arrival would legitimize downtown San Jose as a tech hub of Silicon Valley.

With Caltrain and light rail currently serving Diridon and the arrival of BART (and possibly high-speed rail) in the next decade, we can expect Diridon to be the most robust transit hub on the West Coast. The ability to bring workers into downtown to work in the Class A buildings planned for Diridon is exciting for all businesses involved in planning, construction and interiors.

The impact for my business that provides office furniture to technology companies could be huge as Google and others take advantage of the urban campus concept in San Jose.

As the Google development progresses, it will help push forward current projects in the pipeline as well. High-density housing in our city’s core will undoubtedly multiply, creating the true urban center we have all dreamed about and an amazing new skyline for downtown San Jose. Ultimately, local restaurants, bars and shops will feel the impact as
thousands of new workers call downtown San Jose their home and/or office.

There will be hurdles to cross, but this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring jobs to our city. San Jose has long suffered from a jobs-to-residents imbalance that has affected our tax base and made providing basic services such as police difficult.

More jobs in our downtown will improve our tax base, improve our economy and make downtown San Jose more of a destination. We need to address the environmental impacts, building height restrictions and affordable housing while supporting this opportunity for our city.

The vision of thousands of Googlers living and working in Downtown San Jose is a sight we must keep in focus as plans progress.

Historic Beginning: City negotiates with internet giant

Google intends to expand its operations by up to 8 million square feet and 20,000 employees on the westside of downtown around SAP Center and Diridon train station.

“We know this is just the beginning,” said Mark Golan, vice president of real estate and work place services for Google in the Bay Area, “but we are excited about the possibility of bringing state-of the-art office, housing, retail, civic plazas, parks and open spaces to the downtown San Jose area, all connected by a mass transit system and integrated with the surrounding community.”

Golan made his comments June 20 before the City Council agreed to enter into an Exclusive Negotiations Agreement (ENA) with Google for a number of properties acquired by the city and the Successor Agency of the Redevelopment Agency a decade ago to build a baseball park.

Meanwhile, developer Trammell Crow – on Google’s behalf – has been purchasing parcels not owned by the city or former Redevelopment Agency in the area around the station, especially along Autumn and Montgomery streets.

The ENA process involves several steps to be completed by March 2018: the city and Google would generate a compensation agreement, memorandum of understanding and a final agreement. Then a whole new round of planning and development activity would follow.

“It will take a decade or more to build out,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo, “and will include community conversation every step along the way.”

Councilmembers cited the potential benefits of Google coming to San Jose: providing jobs here, property taxes and revenues for city services, quality development in the right place, high ridership on mass transit and catalyzing additional growth in areas north and south of the train station.

The Council made its approval despite numerous objections, concerns and demands by individuals seeking Google support for wages, schools, affordable housing and open space.

“We heard the pains of growth today,” Liccardo said. “Google’s not in business to solve the city’s problems. But it can be productive to see how they can help. It involves all of us finding a way to work together.”

The last Class A downtown office building erected was Riverpark Tower II in 2010. The 8 million square feet of office space needed by Google would nearly double downtown’s office footprint.

Coupled with the new proposal by TMG Partners and Valley Oaks Partners to develop 1 million feet of office north of SAP Center plus Trammell Crow’s already-approved 1 million feet of office on the Water Company site, downtown’s total workforce could also double.

“I just want to thank Google for finding its way to San Jose,” said Councilmember Raul Peralez.


Mission: “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Main internet products: Search, Ads, Commerce, Maps, YouTube, Google Cloud, Android, Chrome, and Google Play.

$65.6 billion in 2014; $75.5 billion in 2015; $89.5 billion in 2016

Net income in 2016: $19.5 billion

Revenue source: 88% from advertising. “The goal of our advertising business is to deliver relevant ads at just
the right time and to give people useful commercial
information, regardless of the device they’re using.”

Headcount: 72,053, as of Dec. 31, 2016

Headquarters: Mountain View

Source: Alphabet, Inc. 2016 annual report