The more San Jose real estate is in the news, the more it seems to get into news. Another asset in Silicon Valley’s self-proclaimed capital traded hands recently. The 90-year old, 122,000 square foot Bank of Italy office building, located at 12 South 1st Street in San Jose, traded in a number of transactions over the last 60 days for $30.6 million, according to public records. The sale of the property includes an adjacent parking and a building next door. The buyer was a joint venture between investors from Menlo Park (Gary Dillabough, a managing partner with Alameda-based Navitas Capital and formerly with Menlo Park-based Westly Group, was one of the people involved in the purchase) and an entity associated with WeWork.
The sellers were a group of investors who had owned the property through a complicated ownership structure. In 2005, the owners of the property decided to sell each floor, or parts of a floor, as office condominiums, which was the reason the ownership structure of the building was so unique.
The 14-story structure is a pure example of Renaissance Revival high-rise that was built in 1925. This building became the second home to the first branch of the Bank of Italy, founded in San Francisco in 1904, which later became the Bank of America. The Bank of Italy Building is one of the oldest skyscrapers in the Silicon Valley and was designed by architect H.A. Minton, according to the building’s web post on Wikipedia. From when it was built in 1926 until 1970, it was the tallest building between San Francisco and Los Angeles until it was surpassed by Pruneyard Tower I in nearby Campbell. It is a Mediterranean Revival—Beaux-Arts architecture style structure, with a red-tile hip roof and a decorative cupola with a needle-like spire featuring a tall green light.
The building is a designated San Jose Historical Landmark (the first structure ever) and is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places—Historic District. It is currently used for office space for various law firms and tax services among others, in addition to a pawn shop and a night club, and formerly an AIDS advocacy group.
The new owners stated in the report that they are interested in preserving the character of the property while making it environmentally friendly. If this remains their commitment, they will likely have to invest to modernize the structure in order to bring new tenants and add value to the property.