Urban Community Plans 775,000 SQFT Mixed-Use Project in Downtown San Jose

San Jose, Urban Community, Bjarke Angels Group, Bionic, Kier & Wright, Glotman Simpson, Energy Hub Tower

By Jon Peterson

San Jose-based Urban Community has been on a mission to transform downtown San Jose, and its plans for the massive 775,000-square-foot Energy Hub Tower may be one of its most ambitious ones so far. Part of the Westbank Campus in the downtown core of the city, the Bjarke Angels Group-designed project is proposing to transform a 1.25-acre site into a futuristic building with lush greenery overhangs and a terraced facade that will look like no other property in downtown San Jose.

The design embodies the grand vision Gary Dillabough, one of the founders and leaders of Urban Community, has for the city of San Jose and what properties in its core may be able to feature. “Buildings can be so much more than concrete and glass,” Dillabough says on the company’s website. “We want to create environments that not only make people more productive but also integrate better into their lives.”

The location, located at 35 South 2nd Street, is currently used as a surface parking lot. As proposed, the project would remove the existing parking lot and construct a 21-story curvilinear mixed-use building with up to 194 dwelling units, approximately 31,959 square feet of ground floor retail, and 405,924 square feet of office space, according to the development’s draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report submitted to the city of San Jose in June 2022. The dwelling units would be from floors 2 through 11, which would include a gym on the second floor and a number of amenities on the 11th floor. Some of the planned amenities include two party rooms, a lounge and a study room.

The remaining floors, from 12 to 21, would be reserved for office space.

A strong feature of the property is an archway located at the center of floors one to 10. This is planned to provide pedestrian connectivity from South Second Street and the Fountain Alley pedestrian paseo and at the same time serve the purpose of an “urban room,” which would be located beneath the archway and would feature landscaped areas and seating. In total, the proposal is looking to deliver around 22,500 square feet of public open space and additional roof terraces that would provide active and passive open space, outdoor workspace and dining areas, according to the report.

The proposed development will also include a parking area for 289 spaces. The parking would be developed in a four-story garage stretching from ground level through the three basement floors.

The project has a strong mass transit location, and it is near the proposed future downtown San Jose BART station. Construction is expected to last 34 months from groundbreaking to completion. The estimated start date is not known at this time, since the project still has to go through extensive reviews with the city with special consideration given to market trends and the developer’s comfort in starting a project of this scale.

The public review period for this report was just completed. While the preferred project direction is a single structure, the environmental review also considered two design alternatives, which are required by CEQA. Both of the alternative options considered having the development be constructed in two separate buildings. 

One scenario is proposing to develop two, four-story buildings, which would have 123,000 square feet of office, 42,200 square feet of retail and 11,430 square feet of public space. No housing is planned for this option.

The other possible option would have two buildings that are 20 and 17 stories tall. This project will include 170 homes along with 250,820 square feet of office, 42,900 square feet of retail and roughly 11,430 square feet of public space.

The overall project design is led by BIG, Bjarke Ingels Group. This company is based in Denmark, however, it has a regional office located in Brooklyn, New York for its business in the United States, according to its website. BIG was the lead designer on Google’s newly opened Bay View campus in Mountain View. There are three other firms involved with the project at this time. Bionic is the lead landscape architect, Kier & Wright is consulting for civil engineering and Glotman Simpson is the structural engineer on the project.

West Coast Commercial Real Estate News