City of San Jose to Acquire Two Parcels for Parking for $14MM, Citizens Concerned About Future Use

San José, Coyote Creek, Emergency Operations Center, Fremont, Milpitas, Newark, Santa Clara

By Michele Chandler

The San Jose City Council has approved the purchase of two downtown properties to be used for parking and a roadway expansion near the SAP Center.

Together, the two properties are valued at $14 million. The council’s vote was unanimous, with one council member absent.

Now that the Oct. 31 approval vote is official, “We have to execute the purchase and sale agreement,” said San Jose’s Director of Transportation Jim Ortbal, who expects the deal to become final by the end of the year.

Both parcels are earmarked for parking and roadway expansion in the short term, although other uses could be proposed in the future, with further approvals being required at that time.

The two properties to be purchased are located near the SAP Center, which is bounded by W. Santa Clara Street to the south, N. Autumn Street to the east and W. St. John Street to the north.

One parcel, located at 525 West St. John St., will be purchased from the Francia Family Trust for $2.96 million. The 0.6-acre site had been used as a metal foundry from about 1950 to 2008, according to city documents. It will be used to build a parking lot, the city said, with costs to operate and maintain the lot being paid either from the General Purposed Parking Fund or offset by revenue from parking lot fees that users must pay.

The second parcel is located at 130–150 North Autumn St. and 405–407–447 West St. John St., the former Milligan News Property. The city agreed to a purchase price of $11 million from the Milligan Family Trust for that property, which covers 2.53 acres. The San Jose Sharks NHL team leases a portion of the building at 447 West St. John St. There are two other tenants requiring relocation, one residential and one commercial, according to city documents.

The city plans to replace Autumn Street between Wests St. John Street and Julian Street with a new roadway that completes the direct connection between I-280 and Coleman Avenue. “This linkage is an essential mitigation to the planned development within the Downtown and Diridon Station Area Plans,” according to documents filed with the city.

Since the roadway will take some time to complete, the city document said it could possibly serve interim uses, including surface parking.

Any future redevelopment of either of the two areas would be subject to subsequent environmental review, according to the document.

While the areas are earmarked for additional parking and roadway expansion, a few speakers at Tuesday’s meeting expressed concern that the land might one day benefit Google. The tech giant is in discussions with the city of San Jose to possibly purchase and develop City-owned property in and around Diridon Station. Google will be working with its development partner, Trammel Crow, to potentially build transit-oriented office, retail, mixed-use and R&D development on land within the confines of the Diridon Station Area’s 240 acres.

Speaking to the council during the meeting, Sarah McDermott, research analyst with the Unite Here Local 19 hotel, food and beverage workers union, said while “parking for the SAP Center and traffic mitigation is a concern . . . this parking lot and other land purchases are clearly helpful to the proposed Google project. And it seems this is a clear motivation for these purchases.”

City officials said the additional parking is needed because of the eventual construction of a public transit center, which will wipe out some of the current area that’s devoted to parking.

Under an agreement made with the San Jose Sharks, the city is obligated to maintain 3,175 parking spaces within one-third of a mile of the SAP Center, where the team plays its home games. The land purchases will help replace some of the parking that’s expected to be lost once the transit center is built, said San Jose Deputy Development Director Nanci Klein.

“There was a lot of motivation for us to identify parking. We’ve got a lot going on in the Diridon Station area, whether Google comes or not,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “That means a lot of parking’s going to be lost, and we all knew we had to acquire parcels in order to keep our commitment to keep that building, the Arena, viable.”

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