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Google preps more work within footprint of downtown San Jose village

Tech titan has “not forgotten” downtown San Jose despite uncertain timeline





SAN JOSE — Google plans to demolish part of the former Orchard Supply Hardware complex in downtown San Jose, a move that suggests the tech titan has not “forgotten” about its transit village project.


The upcoming bulldozing effort shows the search giant continues to conduct preliminary work ahead of an eventual — yet unknown — construction start for its ambitious plans to create a new neighborhood on the western edges of downtown San Jose.


“Demolition of this building will provide Google the flexibility on how to use this development site in the future,” said Bob Staedler, president of Silicon Valley Synergy, a land-use consultancy, in an email to this news organization.


Webcor, a veteran general contractor, has won the task of conducting the demolition of the older Orchard Supply Hardware store building on the site.


Google is eyeing the demolition of a structure at 720 West San Carlos Street, which is an older section of the hardware store complex, according to a flyer that Webcor circulated on Jan. 31 to neighbors of Google’s proposed transit village, which is known as Downtown West.


“This work is scheduled to begin in February 2024 and be completed by late May 2024,” Webcore stated in a letter the veteran construction firm sent to residents of the area. “The work will be performed Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.”


A spokesperson for Google confirmed the company’s plans for the demolition effort.


“Performing this work now while there is less activity in the area will lower the impact to the neighborhood,” Staedler said.


The search giant’s downtown San Jose transit village — in a formerly industrial area of low-slung, nondescript buildings — is expected to produce up to 7.3 million square feet of offices, 4,000 residential units, 500,000 square feet of retail space that would include shops and restaurants, 300 hotel rooms and 15 acres of open space.


Google expects to employ up to 20,000 workers in the new neighborhood.


In February 2023, Google said it was reassessing the development timeline for Downtown West, setting off speculation the tech giant might back out of the project.


The company has not specified a new timeline for the downtown project.


In September 2023, however, Ruth Porat, president and chief investment officer of Google owner Alphabet, appeared at a block party in downtown San Jose with the city’s Mayor Matt Mahan and other top officials to provide assurances that the tech company is still fully committed to the project.


“Here in Downtown West, with input from San Jose residents, businesses and civic leaders, we have created a multi-decade opportunity and development plan,” Porat said at the block party in September. “We did that because we believe in the people who live here, who work here and are committed to being here in San Jose.”


Google’s plans for the demolition at the Orchard Supply site, along with other ongoing work within the footprint of the future transit-oriented neighborhood is a sign that Google fully intends to develop the village, which is near the Diridon train station and SAP Center.


“Spending money on this work shows that they have not forgotten about Downtown West,” Staedler said.

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