OED participates in key business media events in February

Two regional news organizations held events of significance to the San Jose business community in February: The Registry’s Silicon Valley Update 2018 on February 15, where OED Director Kim Walesh served as a presenter and panelist, and Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Future of Diridon Development on Feb. 22, at which Nanci Klein, OED Assistant Director gave the keynote and served on the panel.

At The Registry event, Kim introduced San Jose’s current mantra: “Location, location, Diridon Station,” highlighting the significance of the interest being shown by Google in establishing a major complex of offices and amenities in the Diridon Station Area with a proposed eight million+ square feet of office space. She provided an overview of the steps being pursued to establish and negotiate prices with Google, the City, the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency (SARA) and the County, culminating in a compensation agreement. The City and Google are now readying for the community engagement process, which will last for years through to the actual development of the area.

Kim highlighted activity in North San Jose, South San Jose and Downtown. The panel discussion, moderated by former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, included panelists Matt Field, TMG; Pedro Marques, Divco West; Deke Hunter, Hunter Properties; and Jan Sweetnam, Federal Realty Investment Trust. The sense of the panel was that interest in the Downtown and near-Downtown areas will continue strong, but commercial and housing development projects are subject to the three threats – timing, transportation and talent. Panelists’ wishlists included airport expansion, light rail from San Jose into Cupertino, more parks and playing fields and a solution to the problems of unhoused people.

At the Business Journal’s Future of Diridon event, Nanci provided the keynote address, and the slides for her presentation are viewable here (insert link).In the keynote, Nanci reviewed San Jose’s jobs/housing imbalance, noting the contrast with other cities in Silicon Valley, and the lower rents that San Jose property commands – a disincentive for property development. However, Google’s interest in building in the Diridon Station area is having a significant impact on development prospects in San Jose’s Downtown and beyond.

Nanci also participated in the panel discussion with Scott Knies, Executive Director of San Jose Downtown Association, and Teresa Alvarado, Director, SPUR San Jose. The moderator was Ralph Dickman, Vice President and Private Wealth Advisor, Union Bank. Key takeaways from the discussion:

  • The Google project alone will add about 20,000 workers, doubling Downtown’s current workforce
  • The panel agreed that this project is “the right project, at the right time, in the right place”
  • Transit is the key to development, and Diridon Station, with electrified Caltrain service, BART access and possibly even high speed rail, will be the busiest transit hub west of the Mississippi.
  • In a recent poll, about 80% of San Jose residents were in favor of the development
  • With the compensation agreement approved by the County and the City Council, the City and Google are launching the community engagement process with meetings of the 38-member Station Area Advisory Group (SAAG) at three-week intervals.

Nanci and Teresa both underscored their commitment to understanding the communities’ concerns as the project moves ahead. As Teresa said, a good outcome is one in which all parties get less than they wanted, but more than they expected. Nanci’s slide presentation is viewable on YouTube.