San Jose mayor to discuss talks with Google on Diridion station development

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss the city commencing discussions with Google on the possible development of a mixed-use, transit-oriented office space in the area of the Diridon station.

It was supposed to be the site of the proposed A's stadium. But, with that project dead, years of casual discussions between Google and San Jose started to get serious.

The project's plans anticipate significant investment over time, with world-class architecture, publicly accessible outdoor plazas and paseos, street-level retail shops, and a public greenbelt and park along the Los Gatos Creek. The development would optimize rail, bus and BART connections, create active pedestrian and bicycle corridors, and promote TDM measures and shared parking opportunities.

Formal negotiations to buy the city-owned land haven't started. Google isn't laying out its plans in detail. However, San Jose officials say Google is interested in building a six-million square foot complex for research & development and for offices. That could mean thousands of new jobs coming to downtown.

"In partnership with Google, we can reimagine Silicon Valley's landscape, by creating a vibrant, architecturally iconic, transit-focused village that provides a model for a more sustainable future, and a sharp departure from the sprawling, auto-oriented tilt-up tech campuses of the Valley's past," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said. "The time has come for us to think boldly about the future of our city's center. Silicon Valley's center of gravity is shifting southward. As we build Diridon to become the busiest multi-modal station in the West, the tens of thousands who will commute here daily will know that they have arrived in Silicon Valley's urban center, and that Downtown San Jose has arrived."

San Jose's vice mayor and councilmembers representing the Diridon and downtown area had the following comments to make on the prospective development proposal: "Google's interest in potentially laying down roots in San Jose will be transformational to the landscape of downtown and the entire city," San Jose Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco said. "We have been working for a project like this for decades. The development of the Diridon area is at a critical juncture, this is the right place, the right time, with the right people, for the right reasons."

Councilmember Dev Davis added: "This proposal is exciting, because it will activate an area between downtown and the Diridon station, helping to connect the two."

"I'm excited about this development proposal. I believe it is the best use for Diridon," San Jose Councilmember Raul Peralez said. "We share the company's vision and look forward to working with them."

San Jose has long envisioned its Diridon Caltrain station being the largest transit hub in the Bay Area. VTA buses already serve the station. This is where a downtown BART line will terminate. High-speed rail is also going to connect here. That's what appears to be attracting Google.

The city administration will propose that the city enter into an Exclusive Negotiations Agreement (ENA) with Google to facilitate its intention to assemble lands owned by the city and the Successor Agency of the Redevelopment Agency.

"They understand their employees want to be part of an integrated community. They want to have access to the outdoors. They want to have mobility options -- trains and buses and all those things, so it really will transform out landscape in downtown San Jose," Teresa Alvarado with SPUR San Jose said.

The San Jose City Council is expected to consider the staff recommendations at its June 20, 2017 meeting.

"Google's interest in the Diridon area is an affirmation of the growing value of the Diridon station, downtown San Jose and the talent pool San Jose offers. We look forward to working with Google and stakeholders to bring forward a transformative project for council consideration," San Jose Director of Economic Development and Deputy City Manager Kim Walesh said.

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Bay City News contributed to this story.
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