Sunnyvale gets sleek new City Hall
A drone view image of the new Sunnyvale City Hall building, which is nearing completion. Photo courtesy of Sunnyvale.

    Sunnyvale’s environmentally conscious and modern City Hall building is nearing completion.

    The four-story, 120,000-square-foot building is expected to produce enough clean energy to power itself, and could be ready for move-in by March. The new building is going up next to the old city hall on the 26-acre civic center property along South Mathilda Avenue and El Camino Real.

    The 52-year-old City Hall building and its annexes will be demolished, as well as a set of 60-year-old city administrative offices. This will open up about six acres for a future park, plaza space and outdoor amphitheater, officials said.

    “Having that new City Hall, it ultimately represents what our city goals are in a big way,” Mayor Larry Klein told San José Spotlight. “It iconifies Sunnyvale as the heart of Silicon Valley. It creates an icon to sustainability in the fight against climate change.”

    Klein said consolidating into the new building will have benefits for city employees. They will be able to work more closely and efficiently, and residents will have one place to go for most city business and public meetings.

    “We’re building up in Silicon Valley and creating open space, and that’s what residents want to see,” he said.

    Sunnyvale’s new 120,000 square-foot City Hall, seen here on Jan. 5, 2023, is nearing completion. Photo by Joseph Geha.

    The new Sunnyvale City Hall, which is pending LEED Platinum certification, is the focal point of the first phase of a planned massive civic center upgrade that could take two decades to complete.

    Future phases of the civic center revamp could include a brand new library, or significant renovation of the 1960s building on Olive Avenue. The council could consider options for the library as soon as 2024. A new public safety headquarters is also envisioned, but timelines and funding for those projects are still being sketched out, city officials said.

    The first phase, which city officials said will cost roughly $315 million, is partially complete and also includes a new 15,000 square-foot, two-story addition to the current public safety headquarters building, which was finished last fall. That new building has a dedicated emergency operations center, as well as more space for a detectives bureau.

    About 17,000 square feet of the existing 35-year-old public safety headquarters is being renovated as well, with updated crime lab space, locker rooms and evidence storage.

    City officials said the first phase is being paid for through a host of funding sources, including $131 million in bonds, with nearly $100 million of interest that will be paid off by the city in 2052. The city is also using about $52 million from surplus property sales and about $27 million in park funds supported by city development fees, among other sources.

    With the new City Hall structure, much of the civic center’s parking is being moved underground, cutting the amount of asphalt space on the property by more than half, said city spokesperson Jennifer Garnett.

    Chip Taylor, head of public works for the city, said a 2018 master plan envisioned city workers moving into the building by late 2021, but there were some cascading delays when it took a little longer than anticipated to get the civic center project out to bid. Taylor said the project also faced more recent delays in getting power to the building, as well as supply chain issues.

    Taylor told San José Spotlight the building will include a large solar array on its roof, and could be among the first net zero energy city halls in the country.

    “During the summertime when we have a lot more sun, we generate more energy than we need, so it goes back into the grid and can be used elsewhere. During the wintertime, we may have to draw some of that power back,” Taylor said, noting it will also have backup battery power, which can be used at night or during outages.

    Contact Joseph Geha at [email protected] or @josephgeha16 on Twitter. 

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