Exclusive: Million-square-foot downtown San Jose campus proposed near planned Google village

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June 23, 2017
The Mercury News
Exclusive: Million-square-foot downtown San Jose campus proposed near planned Google village

SAN JOSE — Google’s ambition to build an enormous San Jose village of tech offices is becoming a magnet for more planned development: Two realty firms said Friday they have proposed a million-square-foot campus, in an aging district of downtown along the Guadalupe River.

TMG Partners and Valley Oak Partners, two veteran Bay Area developers, have teamed up on a proposal to build the offices in an old industrial area. The site is close to where Google is considering building up to 8 million square feet of offices, in the vicinity of Diridon Station and the SAP Center. The proposed TMG-Valley Oak complex is on 5.4 acres north of SAP Center.

“Our site will have the transit access, next-generation work spaces, access to residential, to dining, to entertainment,” said Matt Field, chief investment officer with San Francisco-based TMG Partners.

With this proposal, three distinct areas of potential development — which could total as much as 10 million square feet — have now emerged on the western frontiers of downtown San Jose. Together, they would vastly extend the city’s urban core.

Google also appears to have sparked interest in more developments that could replace existing industrial buildings, warehouses, shops, metal works and homes.

The TMG announcement arrived just days after the San Jose City Council agreed to launch negotiations with Google to sell the tech giant 16 government-owned parcels. These would be among the properties Google would need for its office complex near the train station.

“Clearly, Google village is a validation of what we’re seeing in the area,” Field said. “The ability of companies near Diridon Station to access the vast majority of the Bay Area’s work force through mass transit is unique.”

TMG and Valley Oaks took note of the council’s 10-1 vote Tuesday night that marked the formal first step to create a Google office campus with up to 20,000 workers.

“The area is experiencing rapid changes,” the developers stated Friday. “The San Jose City Council recently agreed to negotiate with Google to sell them nearby, city-owned parcels for the tech giant’s newest village.”

Downtown San Jose has about 39,000 employees, according to figures released in 2014 by SPUR, a nonprofit planning and urban research group. The Google village development, Trammel Crow project and the new TMG complex together could potentially add another 30,000 office workers — a head-spinning increase of 77 percent in the number of downtown office workers. And the square footage of office spaces downtown would double from the present 10 million square feet if all three projects are built.

“This is one of the last development opportunities in the Bay Area that truly brings together the concept of multi-modal transportation, amenity-rich infrastructure and state-of-the-art workplaces,” Field said.

The developers intend to create what they describe as an iconic headquarters location that would appeal to an array of Bay Area employers.

“Demand for the kind of high-tech office space that we’re building with TMG is greater than it’s ever been,” said Steve Fisher, principal executive with San Jose-based Valley Oak Partners. “Companies are increasingly becoming more invested in the neighborhoods in which they operate.”

Some experts believe the eventual combination of BART, high-speed rail, ACE Train, Caltrain and light rail could increase the number of train stops at Diridon Station by eightfold. Carl Guardino, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, estimated there would be 600 trains a day.

“Downtown San Jose has come into its own with its vibrant cultural scene, diverse housing offerings, and a strong and growing technology sector,” TMG’s Field said.

The potential boom in transit activity is leading executives with Valley Oak and TMG to suggest the time is ripe for these kinds of massive, high-density office projects.

“People want to know: Can they find an affordable place to live, can they find a way to get to work easily, can they work in a modern state-of-the-art office with access to great amenities?” Field said. “Diridon Station has all that.”

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