By Meghan Hall
What has been years in the making is finally coming to fruition, and Google’s efforts for its talked about Diridon Station development have been solidified through the submittal of a formal project application to the City of San Jose. The proposal, submitted on October 10th, would redevelop nearly 80-acres, and shows slight increases in the amount of housing and office from an original project outline released in August at a City Council meeting. Over the past several years, Google has spent more than $400 million carefully assembling parcels for redevelopment.
“Google is here for the long-haul,” stated Google’s Director of Development Alexa Arena at August’s meeting. “I think we have an incredible opportunity here, and having the end-user is so unusual in this situation. It is typically a developer. And there’s some anxiety around that…We are here for the next 100 years, and we need to find a way to coexist really positively with San Jose.”
Google’s plans will cover about one-sixth of the 240-acre area surrounding Diridon Station. In its August proposal, Google aimed to develop between 3,000 to 5,000 residential units, as well as 5.5 million square feet of newly-proposed office space, 15 acres of green space and 500,000 square feet of retail, cultural, arts education and hotel space. Google has upped its allocations for residential and office space, now proposing up to 5,900 residential units and 7.3 million square feet of space.
Further details were also provided as to how the remaining 500,000 square feet of active commercial uses would be divided. The plan accounts for a 300-key hotel, a 100,000 square foot event center and a 100,000 square foot center utilities plant. A maximum of 5,460 parking spaces—both public and residential—could be provided.
The project team includes Lendlease as the development lead, Sitelab Urban Studio as the urban design lead, ARUP for transportation and engineering, Heatherwick Studio for architecture, as well as West 8 and Prior and Partners, among others.
“Google is just a catalyst for a vision that has just existed for so long,” said Arena of the plans.
Google’s application submittal will kick off the City’s formal review process of the project. The City staff review period, which will conclude when staff offers its insights to the Planning Commission and City Council, is expected to take until fall of 2020. In order for the project to be approved, the City must approve of the project’s Environmental Impact Report, as well as rezoning, and both a General Plan and Diridon Station Area Plan Amendments. After these steps are taken, the City may issue a Planned Development Permit.
The City has already undertaken studies to amend the Diridon station Area Plan (DSAP), as early iterations of Google’s plans extended well beyond the level of development initially outlined in the DSAP, which originally allotted for 2,588 residential units, 4.96 million square feet of commercial, research and development and industrial space, as well as 424,100 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 900 hotel rooms and a 32,000 square foot ball park.
The City will begin the environmental review process at an EIR Scoping meeting on November 7, and is expected to post a draft of its environmental documents, and whether Google is adhering to its regulations, in the Spring of 2020. The Final EIR is expected for the summer, with Planning Commission and City Council hearings on the project formally taking place towards December of 2020.
“We really want this to be an extension of the city, not an office park,” said Arena. “…Residential, retail, cultural and open spaces, they’re all of the things that create great neighborhoods, great parts of cities.”