In a San Jose, California, community meeting on August 22, Google revealed its plans for the San Jose Transit Village. The mile-long village along the former industrial area west of Highway 87 is anticipated to house 5.5 million square feet of office space for the tech company, 3,000 to 5,000 housing units, a combined 500,000 square feet of space for retail, culture, and education, and 15 acres of green spaces. The proposed plan holds the potential to provide employment for 20,000 to 25,000 people.
The project’s goal is to create an urban hub centered around people rather than cars, with paths connecting various plazas and green spaces in Google’s (and planners SITELAB Urban Studio’s) Framework Plan. At the heart of the village is the extant Diridon Station, which has become one of the largest transit hubs on the west coast. The station not only services San Jose but also functions as a transit hub for Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley. As part of the San Jose Diridon Station Area Plan, the stop is planned to incorporate a VTA light rail and BART extension to the available services.
Google and Trammell Crow, a Texan private commercial real-estate developer and investor, have spent over a year acquiring privately owned land in the area. Last November, Google negotiated the sale of 10.5 acres of publicly owned property around Diridon Station for $109.87 million. Google’s proposal offers a complete transformation of the area and an exchange of the traditional closed-off corporate tech campus design for an open concept plan that welcomes the community.
Alexa Arena, Google’s director of real estate development, insisted that both Google workers and San Jose residents want to emerge from the station directly into a vibrant city. San Jose’s director of economic development, Kim Walesh, agreed with Arena’s sentiments, and told Mercury News, “They have designed a district that meets their office needs but that is going to feel like an extension of the downtown…and like a very high-quality, regular urban area, I think that must be a first.”
The Framework Plan map released at the San Jose meeting provides a clear idea of the company’s vision. As for the design, the intention is to preserve some of the industrial characteristics of the San Jose neighborhood in the north portion of the village and focus on local retail and landscape in the south.
Following the current plans for project development, Google will receive feedback from the San Jose residents and refine their plans for city application in October. San Jose’s City Council will then formally review the project and take a final vote in fall of 2020, potentially allowing for a portion of the project to open by 2024.