Taller downtown San Jose and robust airport: Mayor Liccardo seeks both

SAN JOSE — Efforts to create a new generation of higher towers
in downtown San Jose are seen as being near success — with the
trade-off being minor impacts on a few overseas flights —
according to San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Some proponents of economic growth hope that significantly
taller buildings will be allowed in downtown San Jose, which, due
to its proximity to the city’s international airport, has a
flattened look, an array of boxy mesas of hotels, office towers and
residential high rises.

“We are working earnestly to find a path to reach both
objectives, taller buildings downtown and a strong and growing
airport,” Mayor Liccardo said in an interview.

Multiple key neighborhoods of downtown San Jose — including a
western section of the city’s urban heart where Google plans a
transit-oriented community of office buildings, homes, stores and
restaurants near the Diridon train station — have height
constraints to ensure jetliners can soar safely above the

“We’re in negotiations with the airlines about the height
limits,” Liccardo said. “There are potential trade offs to get
higher buildings downtown.”

City staffers have prepared alternative scenarios for raising
the height limits in downtown San Jose, and now, active discussions
are underway with airlines that serve San Jose.

Only perhaps two or three airlines, primarily those that connect
Asia and San Jose, might be affected. As an example, they might fly
with a bit less cargo or fewer passengers, potentially with five
empty seats or so, according to the mayor.

Experts who are familiar with the downtown believe it makes
sense to pave a smoother path to construct higher buildings in the
city center.

“Developers can generate more revenue with taller buildings,
and once you are not so limited in height, you can start adding
more interesting architectural features,” said Nick Goddard, a
senior vice president with Colliers International, a commercial
realty brokerage. “You can add spires, buildings constructed in a
wedding-cake pattern, more variety.”

Plus, pressure could intensify to construct higher buildings in
the downtown due to the expansion plans by tech giants Google and
Adobe Systems, as well as the prospect that Diridon Station will
add a BART stop and high-speed rail connection, in addition to the
existing light rail, Caltrain, Amtrak, ACE Train and Capitol
Corridor lines that new serve the transit hub.

“This is going to be downtown San Jose 2.0,” said Bob
Staedler, principal executive with Silicon Valley Synergy, a land
use and planning consultancy. “The downtown will have a Grand
Central Station of the West. So taller buildings make more sense,
because property values will be going up.”

Regardless of the final shape of the proposals for higher
buildings, city officials will ensure that flights will maintain
safe operations.

“The number one priority for all of us is safety,” Mayor
Liccardo said.

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Taller downtown San Jose and robust airport: Mayor Liccardo seeks both