San Jose city officials on Tuesday evening officially approved a plan for Google to build a massive campus in the heart of California’s third-largest city.
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 employees and thousands of residential units. It is Google’s first mixed-use campus and will be one of the largest upon completion. San Jose City Council unanimously approved the company’s plans on Tuesday evening, holding back tears to several councilors.
The approval comes as Google wants to model a shift from shutdown tech campuses to halt growing alienation to tech companies, whose success has contributed to a shortage of affordable housing and major cultural shifts in Silicon Valley and other tech hubs. Google, which is doubling down on returning employees to offices amid the weakening pandemic, is also planning another large, city-like hub just 10 miles away in Mountain View.
“There is tremendous distrust of the government and mistrust of Big Tech and it could have been easy for many of our community members to simply succumb to slogans and simplistic thinking, but thousands rolled up their sleeves,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. at Tuesday’s meeting. “Rather than jump into some camp, the community members pushed and urged the city and Google to stretch and reach higher.”
Liccardo went on to thank the community groups, Google and Ruth Porat, financial director of parent company Alphabet, and SVP Kent Walker, of whom he said, “We are committed to helping this.”
“We would like to thank the city and the community for years of commitment and true collaboration,” Google’s San Jose Development Director Alexa Arena said in a statement Tuesday evening. “Together, we’ve laid the foundation for a fair and environmentally friendly place that represents the best of San Jose and Google.”
The Downtown West campus will house 4,000 housing units, 1,000 of which are intended for a series of “affordable” homes. In the city of San Jose, qualifiers with “extremely low income” – the lowest category of low-income housing – earn 30% of the average median income. Exact house prices have not yet been determined, officials said.
Downtown West will also feature up to 300 hotel rooms and 800 short-term residences for Google corporate guests. While Google owns all 80 acres, more than half of the project will be allocated to residential and public space and include amenities such as parks, restaurants, retail space, entertainment space and eco viewing stations.
Construction on the project could begin as early as next year, but is expected to take between 10 and 30 years to complete.
A four-year journey
Downtown West’s approval comes after four years of planning, customizing, and earning buy-in from community advocates and housing, after they faced early and intense setbacks for displacement. Within a week of breaking the news in 2017, house prices were within a five-mile radius of the site increased by 7% according to real estate experts and increased to 25% six months later.
Tuesday night, while the San Jose city council meeting was still taking place, the company reached a last-minute deal with the NHL team the San Jose Sharks, the most outspoken opponent of Google’s plan, and complained about the lack of proposed parking spaces in front of its home in 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 Commission rejected the project in December, citing concerns about building heights in the airport’s path, but the city council’s unanimous vote overturned the committee’s rejection.
Google’s chief legal officer and Global Affairs SVP Kent Walker joined California Governor Gavin Newsom last week when he hosted the signing of Senate Bill 7 at the Downtown West location, which is likely to benefit from the bill affecting major real estate developments. accelerates.
Without office space, Google will pay more than $ 1 billion for infrastructure such as parks, hiking trails and the preservation of historic sites. It will also pay about $ 265.8 million in land and infrastructure fees, as well as $ 200 million in “community benefits,” including anti-displacement and job readiness programs. A company spokesman said it is too early to estimate the cost of the offices.
“We are especially proud of the community fund set up with local social equity organizations to give disadvantaged communities a voice in where community investment should be made,” Alexa Arena said in a statement. Arena said the company had held 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”.