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San Jose downtown shopping spree tops $1 billion in one year

SAN JOSE — Downtown San Jose has become the focal point of a shopping spree for properties that has rocketed far above the $1 billion mark over the past year.

Tech titans Google and Adobe Systems, an array of developers, up-and-coming realty entrepreneurs, along with overseas investors from as far away as Asia, have unleashed a buying binge in downtown San Jose that totaled $1.43 billion during the 12 months that ended in September, according to Santa Clara County public records and this news organization’s analysis of the transactions.

“This is finally downtown San Jose’s moment,” Scott Knies, president of the San Jose Downtown Association, said during a recent presentation that included his estimate that downtown property purchases had reached the billion-dollar pinnacle over the last year.

The buying activity in downtown San Jose over the recent 12 months, measured by the amount spent by the purchasers, is nearly three times as much as the $484 million buyers spent on downtown properties over the prior one-year period that ended in September 2017.

“It’s phenomenal to see all of the activity downtown,” said Geri Wong, a senior managing director with Newmark Knight Frank, a commercial realty firm. “We’re seeing tremendous interest in downtown San Jose.”

Google’s proposal for a transit-oriented community of office buildings, residences, restaurants, shops and open spaces where 15,000 to 20,000 of the search giant’s employees could work near the Diridon train station has bolstered confidence in the area.

“What Google is looking at is a daisy chain of next-generation buildings parallel to the train tracks,” Knies said.

Adding to the enthusiasm: Adobe System’s plan to add a fourth tower to its three-building downtown San Jose headquarters campus in an expansion that is expected to double the cloud services giant’s employment presence in the central business district.

What’s more, the Diridon Station on the western edges of the downtown is slated to become a “Grand Central Station of the West,” as San Jose political and business leaders put it. The transit complex, already a stop for Amtrak, the Capitol Corridor train, Caltrain, the ACE Train, light rail and buses, is approved as a BART station and could even become a stop for California’s high-speed rail network.

“We have an extraordinary chance to create a city within a city,” Knies said.

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