Google cleared to build multibillion-dollar mega-campus in San Jose

San Jose city officials officially approved a plan on Tuesday night 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 workers and thousands of housing units. 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 plans On Tuesday evening, several board members held back tears.

The approval comes as Google aims to model a change 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 tech hubs. Google, which is double on the return of workers to offices amid the weakening pandemic, also provides for another massive, city-shaped hub just 10 miles down the road to 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 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 out and reach higher.”

Liccardo went on to thank community groups, Google and parent company Alphabet’s CFO, Ruth Porat, and senior vice president Kent Walker, who he said “we are committed to doing.”

“We would like 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 in a statement Tuesday evening. “Together, we have created the foundation for a fair, environmentally focused 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. While Google will own 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

Central West’s approval comes after four years of planning, adjusting and rallying community and housing advocates after facing early and intense repel for travel problems. Less than a week after the news broke in 2017, house prices within a three mile radius of the site jumped 7% to a 25% hike six months later, according to real estate experts.

On Tuesday night, with the San Jose City Council meeting still in place, the company hit a last minute agreement with the NHL team the San Jose Sharks, who were Google’s most vocal opponent of the plan, complaining about the lack of parking on offer for their home 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 the unanimous vote of the city council overturned the rejection of the commission.

Google chief legal officer and vice president for global affairs Kent Walker joined California Governor Gavin Newsom last week as he hosted the signing of Senate Bill 7 on the Downtown West site, which should benefit from the bill that accelerates major real estate developments.

Not counting office space, Google will pay more than $ 1 billion for infrastructure features like parks, walkways, and preservation of historic sites. It will also pay about $ 265.8 million in land and infrastructure rights as well as $ 200 million in “community benefits,” which include anti-displacement and employment preparation programs. A company spokesperson said it was too early to estimate office costs.

“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 mentionned at the end of last year, after years of back-and-forth with the community, the company’s goal was “much less the corporate campus” and more “a resilient neighborhood”.

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