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Google village in downtown San Jose gets a public airing

SAN JOSE — A proposal for a transit-oriented “Google village” of offices, residences, retail, restaurants and open spaces near downtown San Jose’s Diridon transit station is scheduled for a public airing at San Jose City Hall Wednesday night.
Mountain View-based Google’s presentation to the Station Area Advisory Group is expected to sketch for the first time the search giant’s vision for how the project would be integrated with nearby neighborhoods in San Jose. The advisory group includes political, business, labor, civic and community leaders who are providing official input regarding Google’s proposed development.
Google’s presentation is being led by Michael Flynn, Google’s urban design lead with considerable experience in projects in metropolitan areas, including New York City’s Manhattan island.
Flynn, who spent several years with M3Project, a multi-disciplinary design collaborative based in New York City, also worked on the High Line development, an elevated project built on an abandoned rail spur on the lower west side of Manhattan. An “icon of contemporary landscape architecture” is how High Line Park is described by experts.
“Community participation, involvement and approval has become a fundamental component to complex urban design initiatives and agendas,” Flynn wrote in 2013, according to a report prepared by the Urban Design Lab Earth Institute at Columbia University.
In the same report about the Manhattan rail line project, Flynn was quoted as writing, “The High Line has given evidence of the importance of green infrastructure within urban landscapes and the profound effect and potential that it can have on culture, economy, real estate and public identity.”
The Google presentation is expected to sketch general design concepts for the Google village in downtown San Jose, according to insiders familiar with the upcoming meeting.
It’s anticipated that Google’s presentation may discuss how the proposed transit-oriented community could enable and spur cultural walking areas, create a commercial loop and integrate with adjacent neighborhoods.
Acting directly and through a joint venture with Trammell Crow, Google has spent $221.6 million purchasing an array of industrial, commercial, office and vacant parcels during an acquisition effort that began in December 2016.
However, Google’s total property investments in the Diridon Station area of downtown San Jose have now reached roughly $350 million — or more. That head-spinning amount is based on the money Google and its development ally have spent on completed property purchases, what Google intends to pay for government-owned parcels and the likely minimum value of a huge piece of property owned by Trammell Crow that Google has struck a deal to buy.
Google’s interest in downtown San Jose is spurred, in part, by transit potential at Diridon Station. At present, Caltrain, Amtrak, the ACE Train, the Capitol Corridor train, light rail and buses connect to the train hub. BART and a high-speed rail line are expected to connect to the Diridon Station in the future.
The Station Area Advisory Group meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in Committee Rooms 118-120 at San Jose City Hall near the corner of South Fifth and East Santa Clara streets.

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