San Jose, Google chat over possible downtown move

The city of San Jose has begun talks with Mountain View-based search giant Google about a possible 6 million-square-foot office and research and development on the western edge of downtown San Jose, Mayor Sam Liccardo announced Tuesday.

According to city officials, the possible mixed-use space near the Diridon station would accommodate between 15,000 and 20,000 jobs and include public plazas and paseos, retail shops and a public greenbelt and park along the Los Gatos Creek.

Liccardo said in a statement:

“In partnership with Google, we can re-imagine Silicon Valley’s landscape by creating a vibrant, architecturally iconic, transit-focused village that provides a model for a more sustainable future. … 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.”

The Diridon station is a transit hub with train service from Caltrain, Amtrak, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light-rail and the Altamont Commuter Express in addition to buses from VTA, the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District and Monterey-Salinas Transit.

Diridon is also planned as a future stop on the California High-Speed Rail line and Phase II of the San Jose BART extension.

The announcement about the possible Google development came within three weeks of the Federal Transit Administration’s $647 million grant for a Caltrain electrification project, which had been in limbo when Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, appointed by President Donald Trump, initially declined to sign off on the funds.

Republican members of Congress had complained that the project also draws funds from the state’s high-speed rail project, which they oppose, but Chao signed off on the funding following a push from Bay Area Congressional Democrats who said thousands of jobs were at stake.

San Jose’s City Council is expected to consider staff recommendations on June 20 that the city enter into an exclusive negotiations agreement with Google to assemble lands owned by the city and the successor agency of the redevelopment agency.

Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco said in a statement:

“Google’s interest in potentially laying down roots in San Jose will be transformational to the landscape of downtown and the entire city. … 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.”

The area has previously been considered as a possible location for the Oakland A’s baseball stadium.

Kim Walesh, San Jose’s director of economic development and deputy city manager, said in a statement:

“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.”