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Google will activate downtown San Jose village sites ahead of project


Google will activate downtown San Jose village sites ahead of project
Tech titan plans “Creekside Socials” to create downtown San Jose activity

SAN JOSE — Google is planning several “Creekside Socials” at locations within the footprint of the tech titan’s proposed mixed-use transit village near Diridon Station in a push to create vibrant activity in downtown San Jose and the project site.

Google also believes the series of social events on the western edges of San Jose’s urban core will serve as a reminder that the company plans to push ahead with its Downtown West project there despite the search giant reassessing the development timeline and pausing much of the work on the new neighborhood, which is expected to include offices, housing, shops, restaurants and more.

To make the events a reality, Google has teamed up with real estate investment firm Jamestown, the creator of the Creekside Socials.

“To bring the vision of Downtown West to life throughout the multi-decade development process, we’re investing millions of dollars to improve the site and bring the community together,” said Scott Foster, vice president of Google’s Real Estate & Workplace Services.

The Google and Jamestown Creekside Socials aim to bring the community together through music, food, collaborations and local arts programs. Jamestown is a design-focused real estate investment firm.

“Join us for an event celebrating the vibrancy of the local community and the greater region’s culinary, music, merchant and creative communities,” Google and Jamestown state in a post on the Creekside Socials website.

In the Bay Area, Jamestown owns the iconic Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco and the popular Fourth Street complex in Berkeley. Jamestown’s highest-profile property is One Times Square, the site of the famed New Year’s Eve “ball drop.”

“Our plan is to create a local and dimensional experience for the community in the near term while creating lasting impact that supports the long-term vitality of the area,” said Michael Phillips, president of Jamestown.

The first social is scheduled for Sept. 9 and will be a block party at locations from 20 to 58 Barack Obama Boulevard, just around the corner from the SAP Center. At present, these are the sites of some commercial buildings next to Los Gatos Creek.

“Google’s early activation program is great to see and will be widely accepted,” said Bob Staedler, principal executive with Silicon Valley Synergy, a land-use consultancy. “Programming like this brings the community together. We need that now more than ever.”

Along with the socials, Google is continuing the preservation of the historic San Jose Water Company building on West Santa Clara Street. The company also intends to demolish the old Orchard Supply Hardware building next to West San Carlos Street.

Google also will work with local artists to enhance the Downtown West site.

The series of social gatherings that Mountain View-based Google and Atlanta-based Jamestown are organizing offer a sharp — and welcome — contrast to the “doom loop” scenarios that some observers envision for the downtown districts in the Bay Area’s three largest cities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sky-high office vacancies and empty storefronts have sickened the urban hearts of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose as economic ailments grip the three downtown districts.

The Sept. 9 kickoff event will take place on a Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Google and Jamestown said.

“Google is showing itself to be a thoughtful neighbor that wants to engage the community in a positive way,” Staedler said.

The vendors for the Sept. 9 block party to kick off the Google socials include:

— Two Bit Circus Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing about change in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) education in school and out of school. Two Bit Circus will provide children’s programming at the event.

— Local Color, a San Jose-based nonprofit that works with local developers and organizations to provide mural opportunities, studio spaces and other ways to place art. Local Color will curate 10 local artists to create live art at the block party.

— Good Karma Bikes is a second-hand bike shop. Good Karma will provide bike valet services for people who bike to the event.

— Moveable is a local street food event production company that coordinates a network of more than 90 diverse food trucks. Moveable will curate local food and beverage pop-ups and trucks.

— Audiopharmacy will be the headliner event on the Creekside Stage. Teao Sense, a San Jose native, leads the hip-hop ensemble and cultural community arts collective.

“The Creekside Socials will be a celebration of San Jose that reflects the vibrancy of the community and uplifts local entrepreneurs and small businesses,” Jamestown president Phillips said.

Jamestown has a significant Bay Area team in place to guide the Creekside Socials efforts.

Google also intends to improve the overall look and feel of the area. This part of the early-stage Downtown West enterprise will include painting buildings and planting trees throughout the area.

“Creekside Socials is the first step in activating this part of San Jose for the future,” Google real estate executive Foster said.

Full article by George Avalos: https://www.mercurynews.com/2023/08/14/google-san-jose-downtown-west-village-real-estate-transit-social-build