Google’s San Jose megaplan: Up to 25,000 new jobs, 5,000 homes

Google unveiled details of its massive plan to remake the area around San Jose’s downtown Diridon Station, a key step in its bid to transform 60 acres and become the largest private employer in the Bay Area’s biggest city.

Plans call for 6.5 million square feet of office space, between 3,000 and 5,000 new homes, and 500,000 square feet of retail, hotel and other cultural uses, along with 15 acres of parks, Google said at a City Hall hearing Thursday. The San Jose City Council could vote on the project by fall 2020, and if approved, construction is expected to last a decade or more.

Google was attracted to the area because of its transit connections. Diridon Station, at the western edge of the city’s downtown, has Amtrak, Altamont Commuter Express, Caltrain, light rail and express bus service, and a BART extension is expected by 2026. It’s a contrast to the tech giant’s Mountain View headquarters, which is not served by rail.

“This is an opportunity for us to really retrofit a city really built for the automobile, for a city built for people,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who supports the plan, told The Chronicle last year.

The project would support 20,000 to 25,000 employees from Google and other companies. That’s equivalent to half of downtown San Jose’s existing 43,000 employees, according to city data.

Liccardo said the project would provide much-needed jobs and a tax boost to the city. Over 60% of employed residents commute from San Jose to jobs elsewhere, contributing to rush hour congestion and weakening the city’s tax revenue, according to a city study.

But some San Jose residents fear the plan will exacerbate already high housing costs as tens of thousands of well-paid employees arrive. Protesters briefly interrupted Thursday’s hearing, and speakers called on Google to help fund aid for the homeless and provide more affordable housing. Some want Google to drop the plan entirely.

“Google is not your friend. Google is displacement and poverty,” one protester’s sign read.

The company said at the hearing that it is seeks to build jobs and housing near transit and create opportunity for existing residents.

It plans to turn a former Orchard Supply Hardware store into a job training center before the project begins construction. It also has committed $300 million to support affordable housing and preservation efforts, as part of a $1 billion Bay Area housing plan.

Google is seeking to qualify as an Environmental Leadership Development Project, a designation which streamlines approvals for large projects that create jobs and public benefits. The program, which was also used at the Golden State Warriors’ Chase Center project, quickens the legal process if a project is sued.

Google plans to file a formal proposal in October.

The Diridon Station plan is one of the largest in the Bay Area, but Google’s vast real estate ambitions also include plans for a major expansion near its Mountain View headquarters, more growth in Sunnyvale and 1 million square feet or more in San Francisco office leases, The Chronicle has reported.

Roland Li is a Chronicle staff writer. Email: roland.li@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @rolandlisf

Article source: https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Google-s-San-Jose-megaplan-Up-to-25-000-new-14374038.php

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