Event Recap: The Future of Downtown San Jose
Monday, February 10, 2020
Posted by: Matthew Peralta
BOMA Silicon Valley recently attended the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Future of Downtown San Jose event at the Fairmont Hotel, featuring introductory remarks by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, followed by two panel discussions. The event provided an insightful glimpse into how Downtown San Jose will continue to transform and the effects it will have on local residents, businesses, and the economy. The following is a summary of the event and key takeaways.
Mayor Liccardo began the event by welcoming attendees and discussing his characterization of the city as innovative, talented, and compassionate. Just a couple minutes into his speech, however, the stage was seized by anti-development protesters, and the event was temporarily put on hold. Once the protesters were allowed by the Business Journal to make their message heard, they were removed from the room, and the event continued.
Mayor Liccardo proceeded to discuss his optimism for the downtown area, which is slated to grow by 150% once all the planned development is complete. He did not overlook the challenges that such rapid growth presents, noting that the city will continue focusing on smart growth, addressing the growing homeless population and developing new preventative measures to help keep people from losing their homes in the first place.
After the mayor’s speech, a panel comprised of local tech, real estate, and city leaders discussed how all are working together to help shape the future of the city. San Jose State University President Mary Papazian discussed how the university is focused on making the downtown area a place where students, faculty, and school employees can enjoy outside of school and work hours, noting that 19,000 of the 40,000 students and employees of the university live within just a few miles of campus.
Google Director of San Jose Real Estate Development Alexa Arena and San Jose Director of Economic Development Kim Walesh discussed how the city and Google, which is planning a massive expansion in the area, are partnering together with community and housing leaders to ensure that as the city grows, so does access to affordable housing.
The second panel, comprised of real estate developers addressed a question on many minds: what is different about this new phase of growth and development, and will it stick?
Erik Hayden of Urban Catalyst discussed that Downtown San Jose is the next logical stop for the region’s tech companies looking to expand beyond their headquarters. He noted that that as they look to move south, Downtown San Jose has the most potential as surrounding cities like Campbell and Cupertino are already built out.
Case Swenson, President and CEO of Swenson Development, noted that the main difference between periods of growth and development in the past and the present is the partnership with the city. He thanked city leaders for being proactive and committed to working with all parties to ensure that new projects are done thoughtfully and successfully.
Cushman & Wakefield’s Vice Chairman Erik Hallgrimson discussed how traffic patterns are helping drive smarter growth. He highlighted how companies are beginning to rethink new locations, focusing on where their employees live and making it easier for them to get to work.