SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — A major milestone in Google’s new Downtown West development project looks to include a community benefits package for residents, focusing on recovery and community. 

According to the development agreement, the tech giant will invest $200 million aimed to build community and recovery aid with an emphasis on more housing, open space, and recreation. 

The city of San Jose says the magnitude of this agreement is unprecedented and is a model for future public and private partnerships. 

“This is the array of benefits that Google is bringing that are in addition to the thousands of jobs and the 5,000 perhaps housing units that we expect to see here, they’ve committed to build at least 4,000 at least 25% of those homes will be rent-restricted and affordable,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. 

“That’s a higher percentage than any private developer has committed to in this city in its history.”

Courtesy: Google

Pending City Council approval, the project would bring 4,000 new homes, 15 acres of open space, more small businesses and restaurants to San Jose. 

Google’s community benefits package directs $200 million towards creating economic opportunity through training, education, jobs, and minimizing displacement, focusing on those most in need. 

“The beauty is that the $200 million is totally focused on equity, it is not focused on what is else wise in the agreement, so this is above and beyond the billion and a quarter that is represented,” said Nanci Klein, director of Economic Development for the City of San Jose.  

“When you think about that, that is pretty amazing.”

In addition, the city says the package will commit to a community-based decision-making approach for a fund aimed at addressing specific community needs through an equitable lens and taking into account the needs post-pandemic. 

“When you think about the community benefits fund, we can’t find another that is truly walking the talk where citizens, people with lived experience of either homelessness or displacement and are experts in these areas actually manage and make the final decisions on the dollars,” said Klein. 

“That is a new standard with council oversight but it’s incredibly important.”

The community benefits identified in the agreement address the several needs that were consistently expressed by the community over more than three years of community outreach led by the city and Google. 

The Downtown West project has a goal for 25% affordable housing in the Diridon Station Area through land dedication, use of commercial linkage and inclusionary housing in-lieu fees, and a range of affordable housing for people who are homeless, and with low and moderate-income.  

“You can see the Dancing Pig sign behind me, although the meat packing plant is gone and many of the industrial buildings now are vacated,” said Liccardo. 

“Google committed to preserve that sign, they really committed in other ways to preserve the history and the culture of this community, both with monetary investments and by deciding not to demolish particular buildings that were important to the community.”

The community benefits also include a Community Stabilization and Opportunity Pathways Fund that will provide resources to “minimize displacement from rising costs” and to “maximize opportunities for youth and adults to participate in job opportunities” through training and support. 

The fund would provide grants for communities that have historically been affected by structural racism and are most vulnerable to displacement, including East San Jose and the Downtown area. 

The fund would provide “Community Stabilization” grants to:   

  • Prevent displacement and homelessness through the preservation of existing affordable housing;   
  • Increase services and shelter for people experiencing homelessness;  
  • Pursue new models of community ownership;
  • Increase protections for low-income renters
Courtesy: Google

The next steps in considering the Development Agreement will be a presentation at the Station Area Advisory Group (SAAG) meeting on Apr. 14 and a Community Meeting on Apr. 17. 

The agreement and full project package will go before the San José Planning Commission on Apr. 28 and will be presented to the City Council, tentatively scheduled for May 25.   

“Obviously a lot of folks are going to withhold the trust until they see the performance,” said Liccardo. 

“I am confident that we’re going to make this all work.” 

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