The reported delay of Google’s mega-development in downtown San Jose is shaking Silicon Valley, but one city advisory group tasked with overseeing millions in community funds from the tech giant is carrying on.
The commission, comprised of 13 voting members who have lived or work experience related to the fund objectives, will have its first meeting on May 18. Regina Celestin Williams, executive director of housing advocacy group [email protected], who serves on the commission, said she’s received little information about the work that lies ahead.
“From the outside, it’s hard to know what’s really happening and how it affects the city’s plans for Downtown West,” Celestin Williams said. “I just really don’t know until we’re meeting regularly and receiving that information directly.”
Google promised the city $155 million in community funds that will be used to pay for education, job training and trying to prevent displacement following Downtown West’s construction. Now those millions and about 25,000 jobs hang in the balance.
The company has already paid San Jose $7.5 million in community benefits, and is slated to give another $15 million no later than 120 days after it starts construction on its first office building, according to a city memo. Google was originally expected to break ground on the proposed 80-acre campus by the end of this year.
San Jose Economic Development Director Nanci Klein disputed the claim that Google is delaying construction on Downtown West. Google also disputed this claim, though it did not dispute any of the facts in a recent CNBC report.
“Everyone knew that it was at least a 15-20 year build-out, and that there are cycles,” Klein told San José Spotlight. “There was never a commitment or a promise anticipated for a specific timeline.”
Klein said it will be a number of years before commission members even start thinking about soliciting applications for the monies, she said. First, the commission must solicit bids for a fund manager, who will help the commission form a five-year strategic plan. A city document from last year shows this strategic plan will be presented to the San Jose City Council for approval sometime in 2024.
The search giant said nothing has changed since it released a statement a few months ago that it’s “reassessing” the project’s timeline.
“We’re working to ensure our real estate investments match the future needs of our hybrid workforce, our business and our communities,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to San José Spotlight and other news outlets. “While we’re assessing how to best move forward with Downtown West, we’re still committed to San Jose for the long term and believe in the importance of the development.”
Contact Sonya Herrera at [email protected] or follow @SMHsoftware on Twitter.
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