Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Photos From Morocco's Distance

As described in a previous post, Morocco's restaurant in Downtown San Jose hosted an amazing dinner theater experience called Distance earlier in December. Now that the event has ended, I can post a few photos from the performance. I'm hoping they will bring this show back (or something similar) at some point in the future!

Monday, December 28, 2009

San Jose Public Market Vision

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Maida and Steve Borkenhagen from the San Jose Public Market. Both Mike and Steve actually live, work, and play in downtown San Jose (Steve's family also owns and operates Eulipia). They are both extremely passionate and invested in the future success of Downtown San Jose, and I was honored to receive from them one of the first behind-the-scenes tours of what will soon become the Public Market.

This will just be the first post of many related to the Public Market, as it has become my #1 favorite project in Downtown San Jose that I feel confident will be completed in 2010. When I first heard about this, I thought: what an amazing concept... A ferry building-style market in San Pedro Square? No way it's going to built anytime soon, and if it every does come to fruition it'll be a radical departure from the initial vision. Well folks, I have good news. This is going to happen as originally planned, and the doors are scheduled to open THIS summer. The financing has been acquired, permits have been received, and buildings are being retrofitted and built as we speak.

What I would really like to talk about today, is about the vision for the Public Market. After meeting with Steve and Mike, I didn't get the impression at all that this is going to be a cookie-cutter mini-replica of San Francisco's Ferry Building or Seattle's Pike Place. This is going to be an innovative new concept that both integrates with and enhances the burgeoning San Jose culture. This won't just be a place to buy fresh produce or grab a snack, you will be entertained and immersed in art as well as San Jose history.

I like to categorize things, so I'm going to put the art and entertainment plan for the SJPM into 3 different categories:
1.) Live music and performances. There will be a central stage surrounded by Public Market stores which will feature live entertainment on a daily basis. This aspect is perhaps akin to Park Valencia in Santana Row 
2.) Dynamic art. The first major installation of dynamic art in Downtown San Jose that blew me away was at The 88. Anyone can dial a phone number and completely change the color patterns of the 4-story LED display on the side of a high-rise condo building (FYI the number is 408-287-0128, put in 3 digits then 0 to change the color pattern). The Public Market is going to take this concept of dynamic art to another level with a project should be more dynamic and encompass a larger area.
3.) Spontaneous/Viral Art. This is where it should get really fun. The plan is to make the Public Market a place where every time you visit, you will never know what to expect. This is where the SJ art community can really get involved and come up with some creative ideas. I think the best way to describe this type of viral art is by showing you this video.

Next up in future posts will be information on the retail mix the Public Market is going for as well as some photos comparing what currently exists with the the future plan. Also if you have ideas on what you would like to see in the Public Market, please post them in the comments. Thanks!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Little San Jose Holiday Spirit

If you want to see the most impressive holiday setups outside of Christmas in the Park, look no further than Lights of the Valley ( San Jose has a number of homeowners that went all out this year. Some of these even have a light show synchronized to music accessible through an FM radio station when you drive next to the home. Nothing beats some free enterntainment to put you in the holiday mood. The San Jose homes mentioned in Lights of the Valley are:
  • 1401 AND 1405 Glacier Dr. (first 2 photos below)
  • 1370 Vallejo Dr.
  • 1664 Pinkstone Ct.
  • 1785 Patio Dr (4th photo below)
  • 1851 Cherry Ave
  • 1925 E. Campbell Ave
  • 2056 Cirone Way
  • 2102 Peachtree Lane
  • 546 Atlanta Ave (3rd photo below)
  • 6226 Hancock Ave
  • 6379 Nueva Ave
  • 6408 San Anselmo Way (last photo below)
  • 6470 Mojave Dr.
To see photos and videos of each home click here or perhaps you can do some quick Google mapping and jump in the car with your friends, family, or both. (Quick update: the Google mapping has been done for you by an Anonymous Santa's Helper below, click here to see where all of the home are!)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

SJDA 2009 Annual Meeting

About a week and a half ago I attended the San Jose Downtown Association annual meeting at Camera 12, and was pretty impressed by the turnout. An entire movie theater was packed with people interested in what's happening Downtown. The speakers were passionate and entertaining, and the overall energy was surprisingly positive considering the state of the economy. I would highly recommend taking the time to make it out next year as I'm sure you'll be pleased to see the effort and dedication that goes into to running the SJDA.

My only suggestion for next year would be to have the entire meeting recorded and accessible online (I really would want to watch some of those speeches again). Below are a few quick snapshots I took.

Monday, December 21, 2009

December 2009 Downtown Dimension Highlights

Here are my notes from the December edition of Downtown Dimension:
  • Economic Impact of the Holidays in Downtown San Jose:
    • Almost 500,000 visitors
    • 1,000 room stays
    • 100,000 San Jose Holiday Parade spectators
    • Downtown Ice hosts 40,000 skaters
  • Due to budget cuts, all RDA projects are on a temporary hold except for a few that have already been committed:
    • San Pedro Square Urban Market ($6m)
    • Convention Center Expansion Phase 1 ($6.2m)
    • Civic Auditorium Upgrade ($3.1m)
    • Facade Improvement Program ($1.4m)
  • A primary/urgent care facility may return to Downtown San Jose.  The old 38,000sqft former San Jose Medical center would be upgraded using a $50m bond from 2008's Measure A. The final project may also include housing, retail, and additional medical offices.
  • 1stACT is continuing to focus on various improvements, such as improving SoFA and "transforming Guadalupe River Park into San Jose's Central Park" (::awesome::).
    • SoFA improvements include more music and events, live music inside businesses, adding bike racks, murals, street banners, and plans to improve Gore park.
    • Guadalupe River Park and Gardens plans are in progress.
    • Current efforts include: improving the bicycling experience downtown, adding more free WiFi, implementing additional public art, and promoting more sidewalk cafes and street vendors.
  • Groundwerx will be extending their beautification efforts on First St. between San Carlos and San Fernando. Get ready for 19 new planters, flower baskets, and my personal favorite... LED tree lighting.
  • R&J Jewelry reopens at First and Santa Clara.
  • Morton's & Flames restaurants are expanding (first time I heard about this)
  • Chillfactor Yogurt Lounge opened its doors on 312 S. Third St.
  • Mission Ale House has been sold and will be changing names to Freddie J's Bar & Lounge. The plans are to bring live music such as Jazz into the space.
  • Groudwerx Stats (just a few of my favorites):
    • 46 tons of sidewalk garbage removed
    • 14,644 graffiti tags removed
    • 45,000 directions given
To read the full newsletters, click here!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

1st Annual Downtown Ice Clause Crawl (?!)

Earlier this year Downtown San Jose was infested by hundreds of zombies in it's first annual Zombie Crawl. This raises the question...what will they think of next, a Santa Crawl?? What's that you say, Santa Crawl this Friday starting 4:30pm at Billy Berk's? Well, I guess all I can do now is give you the details:

Claus Crawl Schedule
4:30 – 5:30pm (non-skaters) Billy Berk’s
5-6pm Downtown Ice Rink
6-7pm The Fairmont Hotel Lounge
7-8pm The Temple Bar & Lounge
8-9pm Mezcal Restaurant
9-10pm Fahrenheit Ultra Lounge

This brilliant event is being hosted by the San Jose Downtown Association. If you dress up as Santa and bring a can of food for the Second Harvest Food Bank, you'll get to skate for free AND be eligible for prizes awarded to the most unique, most authentic, most San Jose, and most crowd pleasing Santas. The restaurants above will even be offering drink specials and prizes to Santas. Wear a reindeer hat and you'll get free non-alcoholic reindeer drinks all night long. For more information, check out the facebook page here!

At this rate, we'll have a drunk-zombie-Easter-bunny crawl hopping through downtown come April.

(Thanks to DH for the tip!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cirque Du Soleil OVO Adds 18 More Performances!

Earlier today Cirque Du Soleil announced that they will be extending their San Jose run all the way to March 7th. You can purchase tickets for the new performances immediately as long as you're a Cirque Club member (registration is free and instant, so the tickets are really open to everyone). This is the best time to get tickets as most people don't know about the new performances yet. I was able to snag 2 front-row tickets not long ago. For purchasing info click here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another Two Buck Tuesday!

On Dec. 15 at KALEID Gallery (88 S 4th St.), you'll have another chance at grabbing some locally grown art for a paltry $2. For more information and a list of artists that will be attending, head on over to the Phantom Galleries site.

(Andrew Goldfarb)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Morocco's Dinner Theater - Raising the Bar for San Jose Dining!

I'm proud to say that I have been to almost every single restaurant in Downtown San Jose (over 90 restaurants, more if you include the ones that no longer exist). Among so many great options, my favorite downtown restaurant by far is Morocco's. The food, ambiance, and service are consistently outstanding. While these 3 criteria are usually how I judge most restaurants, Morocco's add's a 4th dimension that has to be factored in and I think for now I'm going to call it charisma. When you walk into Morocco's you don't feel like you're walking into your everyday eating establishment in San Jose. There is this magnetic charm oozing from every corner of the restaurant that goes beyond the sum of the 3 criteria I mentioned before.  Sure the food is phenomenal, the decorations are hand-selected from Morocco for authenticity, and the owners are passionate about treating you like family... but there is more. It's just difficult to describe, but the event below may shed some light on this 4th element.

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure to attend the opening night of Distance, a dinner theater experience that was put together from scratch by local artists and performers specifically for Morocco's. It was the perfect balance between a delicious 5 course meal and entertainment--basically a continuous flow of good times. There is comedy, professional dancing, and even an element of interactivity in the story (there is more than one ending, how awesome is that). The icing on the cake is that the performance is extremely intimate with only 30 or so seats in the room. This event is a perfect example of what San Jose culture should be like, providing fun in new and unique ways and exploring the talent and innovation that San Joseans have to offer. I have to say this ups the bar for fun in Downtown San Jose restaurants.

There are 6 performances left and you can book by calling Morocco's directly at (408) 998-1509 or by going to

Friday, December 4, 2009

South First Fridays Art Walk Tonight!

It's that time again! Today, not only can you enjoy art and music from 8pm-late in SoFA, but you can also walk over an check out Christmas in the Park which should be in full swing today. If you want to see downtown San Jose full of life, today is the day to go! It should be a perfect example of what downtown San Jose could be like everyday at some point in the future. As you walk around, also keep in mind that something like Halloween in the Park could extend the excitement by at least another month. Anyway, I hope that you all enjoy the Art Walk tonight, it should be a good one!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Excellent Ad Campaign For Downtown San Jose

I stumbled upon this phenomenal ad campaign promoting downtown living at the SJDA site. I was so impressed that I had to share. Click the images to enlarge and read the text.