Friday, December 31, 2010

My New Year's Resolution

A couple months ago I stumbled upon a wiki page for Global Cities (also known as World cities). Wikipedia describes a global city as "an important node point in the global economic system" and the criteria include:

  • Economic characteristics (corporate headquarters, financial output, cost of living)
  • Political characteristics (active influence on and participation in international events and world affairs)
  • Culture (notable museums, galleries, lively cultural and music scene, strong community, major sports facilities, educational institutions)
  • Infrastructure (advanced transit systems and freeways, extensive mass transit, high-speed communications, prominent skylines).

It turns out that there is actually an organization called the GaWC that tracks all of these characteristics for cities around the world and ranks cities into categories. You have Alpha world cities like New York and London, followed by Beta and Gamma world cities, then you have cities with Sufficiency and High Sufficiency when it comes to these criteria. Spoiler Alert, we didn't do so well. In fact the 2008 report pegged San Jose as being only in the Sufficiency category.

My New Year's resolution is simple. I'm pledging to do whatever I can over the course of my life to help San Jose, regardless of how small it may seem, get from Sufficiency to Alpha World City status. It's a lofty goal, but I'm hoping that doing simple things such as promoting our vibrant culture and new developments will have a snowball effect and encourage more of the things that will put San Jose on the global radar.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The 88 Achieves a Perfect Walk Score!

Walk Score is a website that lets you know how walkable a particular home or neighborhood is. Proximity to restaurants, grocery stores, retail, parks, schools, transit hubs and entertainment all factor into the score. Getting a perfect 100 is near impossible, even in very dense cities. However, one of the downtown San Jose condo projects managed to pull it off. Thanks to being located in the middle of the downtown core, The 88 achieves a perfect 100/100 walk-ability score. After the San Pedro Square Market opens, I imagine Axis will also be very close to 100 (right now it's at 89). For more details, just click here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wednesday Wishlist: Flagship Chain Restaurants

If you read this blog regularly, you might have done a double take on the title. I usually promote unique restaurants that bring something new to the city over chain restaurants, but I think there are a few must-have chains that you will only find in fully developed and popular cities. I would call these flagship chains because they are usually gigantic and offer something else besides food to patrons, so even those that don't enjoy the cuisine can still have a great time. They also draw shoppers and tourists like magnets.

Here's my list of Flagship Chain Restaurants I would like to see in San Jose someday:

  • Rainforest Cafe
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • Planet Hollywood
  • House of Blues (Downtown was so close to getting one)
  • ESPN Zone  
Do you have any to add to the list? Post in the comments.

Atlantic City House of Blues

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Maxim is Moving their Global HQ to San Jose!

Maxim, a multi billion dollar high-tech manufacturing company, is moving their headquarters from Sunnyvale to North San Jose's Golden Triangle (area between 101, 880, and 237). They are also gaining about 150,000 sqft of new space as part of the move, letting them expand operations by up to 20%. Some of the reasons why they are excited about their new space:

  • Immediate access to 3 freeways
  • Lightrail and ACE access
  • Future retail and housing along 1st St.
They should be in their new home by 2012.

Monday, December 27, 2010

North San Pedro Development

It looks like the Barry Swenson housing development in the North San Pedro area downtown is one step closer to breaking ground. The San Jose City Council has approved the sale of 7+ acres for the project, which would encompass 3 high-rises and several townhomes. In total, there will be at least 730 units, 2 new parks, and a realignment of Julian Street back to a traditional grid. Barry hopes to start construction by Summer 2011 and have the first tower open by the end of 2012!

north san pedro san jose

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New 49ers Stadium May Already Yield Benefits

It looks as if Joe Montana and former owner Edward DeBartolo are looking to build a new luxury hotel, sports bar, and entertainment complex near the future 49ers stadium in Santa Clara. Just one of many additional potential benefits a pro sports team can have on an area.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Lights in San Jose

If you want to know which homes in San Jose have the best Christmas decorations, look no further than Lights of the Valley! In addition to descriptions and photos, they even tell you if there are synchronized light shows, FM broadcasts, or websites dedicated to the decorations (some people went all out). You can even select a group of homes to visit and the website will provide driving directions between each location. Click here to see the full list of ultra-merrily decorated homes in San Jose!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Downtown Parking Map

Since a lot of people are coming downtown for holiday events such as Christmas in the Park, I thought this parking map might be handy. My favorite parking spot is the Central Garage below The 88 and The Market by Safeway. I have never seen it completely full and it is very easy to validate the parking just by buying a soda or snack in The Market, or going to just about any restaurant Downtown. The location is also right in central downtown, making everything a quick walk away (this is the reason why The 88 has a perfect walkscore of 100).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Downtown San Jose Restaurant Spreadsheet - Quick Update

I finally got all of the easily accessible data into the restaurant spreadsheet. All restaurant website links should be in there along with restaurant hours (if available on yelp or the restaurant website). Even I was shocked to see the some of the findings after finishing the spreadsheet. I have always complained about how many downtown restaurants close on Sundays--which is a great day to eat Downtown thanks to free and easy to find parking. If you look at the "Open Sunday" column, there is an awful lot of green, meaning there are TONS of restaurant open. In fact, at least 100 downtown restaurants are open on Sunday.

Second major revelation... there are an insane number of restaurants open late. Almost 40 of them are open until midnight or later. 18 restaurants are open until 2am or later on weekends! 5 are open until 3am!! Again, this list would have really came in handy in college. If you haven't bookmarked it by now, here's the link to the spreadsheet.

Wednesday Wishlist: More San Jose Museums!

We have some great museums in San Jose, but I think it's time to bring something new into the mix. Museums aren't just a source of education, they're magnets for tourism--especially if you have a large concentration of them close by. Even in today's economy, if we can bring something new, interesting, and cost effective to the table it should have every chance at success. Here are some ideas I've been tossing around in my head for fun: 
  • Video Game Museum - Chronicling the past 40 years of video game history: consoles, mobile devices, arcades, and computer games. The best part about a museum like this would be interactivity. You could sit down and play games from each era. I'm sure something like this would be a hit in San Jose.
  • Virtual Reality Fine Art Museum - Imagine a museum that could change every day, or perhaps even every hour. With high definition monitors and projectors, it would not be very difficult to digitally recreate parts of any museum in the world. Imagine walking into a wing of the Louvre one day and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art the next.
  • Entrepreneurship Museum - There are so many interesting Silicon Valley entrepreneurship stories worth documenting in a museum: Steve Jobs (Apple), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google), Will Hewlett and Dave Packard (HP), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Meg Whitman (eBay), and many, many more. 
  • Vietnamese History Museum - There are over 100,000 people of Vietnamese ethnicity in San Jose, there's no better place for it in the US.
What type of new museums would you like to have in San Jose?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Silicon Valley Maps

For the past 22 years, the history of Silicon Valley has been chronicled by a small map company simply called Silicon Valley Maps. Each year a new map is published highlighting the key players in the largest and most innovative technology center in the world. Looking through each one in sequence paints an interesting picture on which companies managed to survive over time and which weren't so lucky. However, as an added bonus for me, Downtown San Jose's prominence in Silicon Valley has also been chronicled in these maps. Look for the red squares below... do you notice the trend in how Downtown is conveyed over time?

To see all of the maps, click here!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Downtown San Jose Restaurant Spreadsheet Updates

A few notes on changes and improvements that are coming to the Downtown San Jose Restaurant list:
  • Created a column for restaurants that are open on Sundays (green means they are)
  • Added late night formatting for restaurants open late in the Hours column. I'm surprised at how many Downtown restaurants are open until midnight or later. I wish I had this list back in college =)
    • Pink - open until midnight or later
    • Light Purple - open until 1am or later
    • Dark Purple - open until 2am or later
  • Added a count of restaurants in the Downtown core, which excludes the San Jose Market Center, and will exclude the restaurants between 5th St. and 11th St. that I will be adding in 2011.
  • Added instructions up at the top on how to sort and filter (you need to go to View >> List View).
To see the spreadsheet, just click here!

49ers Stadium Comparison

I have some interesting statistics between Candlestick Park and the New 49ers Stadium proposed for Santa Clara. I rarely post about things outside of San Jose, but in this case we would be one of the main benefactors of the new stadium (increased hotel utilization, light rail usage, and simply having another pro sports team a few miles away). They have already had their practice facility in the South Bay for a long time and most of the players physically live in the South Bay, so far all intents and purposes they'll be our team if the stadium gets built.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pho 69 - Best Pho in San Jose!

Downtown San Jose is really on a roll with restaurant openings lately. Since I was raised in San Jose, I'm intimately familiar with Pho (Over 100,000 people of Vietnamese descent live in San Jose... Pho is everywhere). Back in college, I had Pho for lunch almost every single day. Of the 50+ Pho restaurants I've been to over the years, Pho 69 is hands down the best one in every criteria I can think of!

Let's start with the food. Today I had the spring rolls, crispy rolls, a Pho 69 special, and my wife had Chicken Pho. Everything was amazing, but the house special Pho 69 really rocked my world. The 3 main proteins in their signature bowl are brisket, meatball, and thinly sliced fillet mignon. You read that correctly, fillet Mignon in Pho! My wife's Pho Ga also featured a rare Pho ingredient, free range chicken. The broth was rich and complex. Usually I douse hot sauce and plum sauce in my soup, but that was really unnecessary in this case. Perhaps the $20,000 vat that they use to steam cook the broth over a 24 hour period has something to do with the quality here.

Next, the ambiance. Easily the nicest Pho restaurant I have ever been to (I've had Pho at Parcel 104 before, but that doesn't really count). The dining area is spacious, lofty, and well appointed. There's a second floor for additional seating and private parties that overlooks the entire restaurant, and it's equipped for Karaoke. The kitchen is pretty open and is visible from the dining area. There's even a skylight, another feature I've never seen in a Pho restaurant.

Lastly, let's talk about character. Pho 69 is located in the artsy SoFA district downtown. I've been keeping my fingers crossed for weeks that the restaurant would have a program for artists, and it looks like it paid off. The walls are fully prepped to support rotating art and the 20+ foot ceiling provides ample space for even over-sized works. And yes, Pho 69 is planning to participate in South First Friday and already have relationships with Anno Domini and MACLA!

Personally, I couldn't have asked for anything more for a new SoFA restaurant. It's been a good year for Downtown San Jose!