SAN JOSE — Google’s proposed transit-oriented village would be a catalyst to connect people and nature with an array of experiences, a grand plan that would integrate the game-changing project with numerous adjacent neighborhoods, according to a presentation by the company Wednesday night.
The search giant sketched a vision of an innovation loop, a social and cultural walk, a farmer’s market in front of the Diridon Station, and numerous open spaces, along with office buildings for its employees, as well as homes, retail and restaurants that would sprout as part of the company’s proposed community. The presentation was made to the Station Area Advisory Group. The start of the presentation was delayed by a noisy protest.
“It’s really about the spaces between the buildings,” Michael Flynn, Google’s urban design lead, said during the meeting of the station advisory group.
Mountain View-based Google’s presentation to the Station Area Advisory Group marked the first time the search giant offered a vision for how the project would be integrated with nearby neighborhoods in San Jose. The advisory group includes political, business, labor, civic and community leaders who are providing official input regarding Google’s proposed development.
“We want to connect people, places and experiences in an authentic way,” Flynn said in a brief interview with this news organization after the Google presentation.
The transit village that Google is planning would spur cultural walking areas, create a commercial loop and integrate with adjacent neighborhoods. Plus, the nearby Los Gatos Creek and Guadalupe River could be become key components in the project experiences, especially since they flow between the hills that flank the Santa Clara Valley and the south end of San Francisco Bay.
“Wouldn’t it be incredible to use our project to connect the Bay to the redwoods,” Flynn said.
The meeting was delayed by a roughly 45-minute protest during which demonstrators paraded through the meeting room at San Jose City Hall. They chanted and held a sign that said “Googleville,” a homage to the Hoovervilles, or shanty towns, built during the Depression by destitute U.S residents.
Some members of the Station Area Advisory Group expressed concerns about the prospect that local residents could become displaced should the arrival of 15,000 to 20,000 Google tech employees force already sky-high home prices to new record levels.
“How are you going to address social displacement?” Jeffrey Buchanan, an advisory group member and director of policy with Working Partnerships USA, an advocacy group, asked the Google representatives.
Google officials assured the meeting that this issue is front and center for the tech titan.
“Affordability and gentrification are very much on our radar screen,” Joe Van Belleghem, Google’s senior director of development. “We know it’s got to be addressed.”