Proposed San Jose landmark wins approval from city council

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A potentially iconic project has cleared a significant hurdle after being approved by the San Jose City Council this week and is now one step closer to rising west of downtown.

"It's just the perfect project at the right time and the right vision," said Scott Knies, San Jose Downtown Association executive director. "You think about the St. Louis Arch, or the Space Needle in Seattle, and these are a number of private citizens that said 'what can we do, what can we fund to bring a tremendous gift?'"

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"Breeze of Innovation" was unanimously approved as the final pick out of nearly a thousand entries from more than 70 countries. As a tribute to tech workers, the project will feature 500 flexible rods, 200 feet high a piece, that will sway in the breeze.

Officials say the structure should generate enough power to illuminate itself and to support walkable platforms at the Arena Green, along the Guadalupe River across from SAP Center.

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San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo says the community-driven initiative, which has been led by Urban Confluence Silicon Valley, is reflective of the region's entrepreneurial spirit.

"I think it's an appropriate place to put something that represents the future, that's iconic, that'll give everyone a chance to enjoy our skyline," said Liccardo.

Although the structure will be privately funded and gifted to the city by the nonprofit San Jose Light Tower Corporation, its price tag of nearly $150 million has raised concerns among some who believe it would be a waste of money. The city council also heard from advocates and residents who oppose the project over equity, as well as light pollution.

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But with the go-ahead, city officials will spend the next year or so drafting up an environmental report that'll identify solutions for reducing the impact, before returning it back to the city council for consideration.

Liccardo added, "I don't know if there's someone willing to contribute $150 million dollars or whatever it takes to build this thing, but it's beautiful, and those with the ambition and aspiration should be given a chance to do exactly what their heart drives them to do."

If all goes as planned, the goal would be to complete the project by 2025.

"We have the wealth in this community, we now have the vision, we now have the public approval," said Knies. "The fundraising begins."

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