Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Welcome Back to Downtown San Jose!

Parts of Downtown San Jose has been thriving lately despite the pandemic, but many businesses need our support if we want them to be around in 2021. I came across the video below that highlights many of our local entrepreneurs along with a new hashtag, #dtsjopen. Check it out and please patronize the restaurants and shops you care about!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

LGBTQ business district launching Downtown

Post Street in Downtown San Jose is officially going to transform into a LGBTQ+ district called "Qmunity." The idea will be to create something similar to the Castro in San Francisco or West Hollywood at much smaller scale. The street stretches from 1st Street to South Market and has had LGBTQ bars and nightclubs for quite some time.

The San Jose Downtown Installation just installed new trees and programmable LED lights for the new district. Urban artwork is currently underway for both crosswalks and sidewalks. Soon there will also be a LGBTQ+ mural and banners to help build the identity of the district.

Source: San Jose Inside

Monday, September 21, 2020

Urban Confluence Silicon Valley Reveal Event

Urban Confluence Silicon Valley is going to build an iconic landmark across the street from the SAP Center. Last Friday, they narrowed down almost a thousand concept submissions across six continents to just three finalists.

Two of them use negative space to recreate the original San Jose Light Tower while providing platforms for visitors to climb the tower and take in 360 degree views. 

The third concept is a towering garden with over-sized plants and flowers. This one features walkways with glass on all sides--including the floor--that make you feel like you are floating through the garden..

Each of these finalists will receive $150k to perfect their concept and a final decision on which will go forward with will take place early next year. You can watch the full reveal of all three concepts below.

Friday, September 18, 2020

MIRO Towers being topped off

Below is a brief video from the top of MIRO, San Jose's future tallest set of buildings. The towers are currently at maximum height (just under 300 feet) and they should be ready for leasing some time next year. The views look quite stunning from up there.

Source: aphelion2100 from the San Jose Development Forum

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Love, Loss, Life

Tonight the San Jose Museum of Art is hosting an event discussing the contributions of Chicano, African-American, and Vietnamese immigrants to San Jose. It includes music inspired by these stories created and performed by Emmy-award winning musician and composer Van-Anh Vo. At the end there will be an interactive Q&A with the speakers and artists.

For free tickets, click here.

September 2020 Downtown Dimension Highlights

The latest addition of Downtown Dimension is now live. Below is a summary of the content this month.

The SEPTEMBER 2020 Downtown Dimension is now available for download.

On the front page:

Taking into account the views of 1,254 survey responders, SJDA has a stabilization plan that provides guidance on how SJDA and downtown San Jose should move forward in the next six months and for the next two years.  The 40-page plan goes deep, but this month's Dimension summary outlines the highlights, managing principles and primary objectives:
  1. Emphasize clean and safe services downtown;
  2. Provide plenty of nurturing to downtown's vulnerable storefront economy;
  3. Focus on downtown place enhancement and marketing.
Also this month:
  • Nirvana Soul owners talk about opening "third-wave specialty coffee shop" in SoFA.  
  • Groundwerx program managers promoted.
  • Railroad through northern part of downtown to be silenced at night.
  • First 90 minutes free parking at newly upgraded and safety-conscientious ParkSJ garages 
SJDA hosts City Council candidates forum Sept. 11, 8:30 a.m.

The City Council forum featuring District 4 candidates David Cohen and Lan Diep plus District 6 candidates Dev Davis and Jake Tonkel will stream live on Facebook Live starting at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 11.  To view the meeting, simply go to our Facebook page @sjdowntown.  We're taking some reservations on Zoom, too.  RSVP to

Another way to stay connected to downtown:

The Downtowner Online is sent each Wednesday.  This weekly email features downtown businesses including virtual events and ways to support downtown. Subscribe

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

San Jose's new bike plan

San Jose has unveiled Better Bike Plan 2025, which will lead to a major expansion of our bike network. The previous plan gave us 392 miles of on-street bike-ways and 62 miles of trails since 2009.

The 2025 plan is nearly as ambitions. It features 79 miles of new separated bike lines, 101 miles of bike boulevards on slow-speed streets, upgrading 293 miles of existing bike lanes with new safety measures, and 37 miles of new trails.

The overall price tag could range between $250 million to $420 million. It sounds expensive but the cost covers hundreds of miles of improvements for less than the two-stop Light Rail expansion to Eastridge Mall.

Source: San Jose Inside

Monday, September 14, 2020

Guided Downtown San Jose Street Art Tour

Art helps brighten the day, and we could use a little extra brightening right now. Downtown San Jose boasts one of the most impressive collections of murals in the Bay Area. Ecocity Cycles is now offering a full blown COVID-compliant tour by pedicab. The tour takes about an hour and includes visiting over 20 murals and a free treat from a local bakery. They are also using an XL pedicab that can seat up to 6 and you can even choose whether to have a top cover or go full-on convertible.

For more info or to book a tour, head over here.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

New San Jose Flag

Pop quiz, do you know what the San Jose flag looks like?

Here is a quick reminder:

It doesn't quite seem to represent the San Jose of today. Bushels of wheat and grape vines have little to do with our current culture of innovation, technology, diversity, or entrepreneurship. There was an attempt to redesign this flag in 2016, but it never gained traction.

Abhinav Ganesh has created a modernized version of the San Jose flag. It's clean and easy to remember. The sun iconography is also used in official City logos and reminds us of our 300 days of sunshine each year. Here is the official description of the unofficial redesign:

"the triangular shape represents the Santa Clara Valley, the triangles represent the mountains at our borders, and the sun represents our warmth and lofty aspirations. The blue and gold colors, currently used by the city, are also California's official colors."

If you would like to support the initiative to modernize the flag, Abhinav has started selling the new flags and donating $10 to local charities for each sale. You can learn more over here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

17 East Santa Clara Street

We have our first render of a residential tower at 17 East Santa Clara Street. This is the infamous site of an adult book store that burnt down between 1st and 2nd Street.

When a developer first announced they would like to build a high-rise here, there was quite a lot of speculation on what could actually be built on such a small and narrow space less than 9,000 SQFT. However, I have to say this initial design looks fantastic and is a welcome change from the super wide towers that are in the works. The narrow side creates an optical illusion where it looks 40 stories tall instead of 28.

The tower is going to have 96 residential units, with 17 of those restricted for moderate-income residents. It's not clear whether the units will be for sale or rent. Unfortunately it does not appear to feature any retail on the ground floor, but with such a small lot that is to be expected.

I hope we see other towers with this type of narrow aesthetic going forward to add more variety Downtown.

Source: Lawrence Lui on Twitter

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Mixed-use "Fountain Alley" project moves forward and includes a surprise

Urban Catalyst, which is quickly becoming my favorite Downtown developer, is moving forward with a special project in the historic Fountain Alley district. They are turning what used to be Lido Nightclub into a six story building with retail on the ground floor, five stories of office space, and a rooftop bar. Since Scott's seafood relocated, there are no options I'm aware of where you can grab food or a drink more than a floor off the ground besides the Capital Club.

The office lobby will start in the historic Knox-Goodrich building next door, which is 130 years old and will be fully incorporated into this development. This is an excellent way to preserve our history while still developing Downtown San Jose. It reminds me of how our historic post office was utilized for a cafe and exhibit space in the San Jose Museum of Art.

Another exciting surprise feature that Urban Catalyst is included in the project is a unique fountain. It would seem appropriate for a place called Fountain Alley to have an actual fountain. The goal is a place-making landmark and they have done a ton of research on cool fountains they could bring to the area. The current plan features a fountain modeled after the spectacular Apple store fountain in Milan (last image below).

While it is not the largest development project in Downtown San Jose, it's packed with character. Everything from historic preservation to unique amenities that don't exist in the area are being packing into this five story building that is just a couple hundred feet from the future BART station. This will reshape the historic district forever.

The ground breaking is currently slated for Q2 2021 and completion is expected by mid-2023.

Source: SVBJ

Monday, September 7, 2020

Developing Downtown San Jose

Several executives at local development companies got together to discuss future project Downtown. The tone throughout the presentation was optimistic despite the COVID pandemic. The walk-through of each major project starts around 2:30, but if you have the time it is worth watching the whole video. The companies represented in the call are investing billions of dollars into San Jose and many of the projects discussed are under construction right now.

Source: Urban Catalyst Blog

Developing Downtown San Jose from Hoge Fenton on Vimeo.
While the coronavirus pandemic continues to stifle the economy, Urban Community Fund, Urban Catalyst Fund (an Opportunity Zone Fund), Bayview Development Group, and Jay Paul Company are developing key construction projects in downtown San Jose. Our panelists include:

• Erik Hayden, Founder, Managing Partner (Urban Catalyst Fund)
• Ted McMahon, Chief Investment Officer, (Bay View Development Group)
• Matthew Lituchy, Chief Investment Officer (Jay Paul Company)

Moderated by Sean Cottle, Real Estate Attorney at Hoge Fenton, our panelists discuss:

• Current status of development in Downtown San Jose
• Current rent and vacancy situation
• Long-term impact of the pandemic on Downtown San Jose development

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

New flights coming to SJC

Thanks to COVID, we went from having the fastest growing airport in the country and 11 international flights to a ghost town with only six international flights, all to Mexico.

Our fortunes may be slowly changing, the first new international route since COVID has just been announced by Volaris. They are adding a new nonstop between Mexico City and SJC that will fly three times per week (Mon, Wed, and Fri). This is the first time we'll have a direct flight to Mexico City in about two years.

Below is our revised list of international flights:

As an added bonus, Alaska Airlines is adding a seasonal nonstop to the ski town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming on December 19th. This will be a twice-weekly flight until April and will be the first time this route has ever appeared at SJC.

Source: SVBJ, SVBJ (2)

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Santana Row gym and nail salon now providing outdoor services

Santa Clara County may be in the "purple" zone when it comes to California COVID restrictions (the worst one), but that isn't stopping two Santana Row businesses from providing approved services outdoors. Both Barry's Bootcamp and Lavande Nail Spa are now open. Given that it will be at least 3 weeks before indoor gyms and nail spas are allowed in San Jose, these may be your best options.

Indoor restaurants are also off the table for at least 3 weeks, but Santana Row has shut down several streets to expand outdoor dining considerably. It's perhaps ground zero for some sort of normalcy in the South Bay. Many indoor stores have also reopened with a 25% capacity limitation.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Downtown San Jose mini-boom

San Jose Inside has an uplifting article about how Team San Jose rallied together 14 hotel owners to provide discounted rooms for fire victims and evacuees. These visitors are in return giving back to the local community. Despite the questionable air quality, restaurants along San Pedro and San Fernando Streets have been booming--giving a ray of hope to San Jose restaurateurs. Read the article over here.

As an added bonus, here is another San Jose Inside article about developers staying bullish on Downtown San Jose. Even with COVID19, many large-scale residential and office projects are still moving forward. Perhaps 2021 will be our year.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Valley Fair Open-Air Market

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Valley Fair has been closed for months, so they have gotten creative and launched an outdoor pop-up to allow some of it's tenants to continue operations. If you find it ironic that people are shopping in tents right in front of Valley Fair's shiny new (and deserted) $1.1 billion expansion, you're not the only one.

The outdoor market is open from 1pm to 7pm from Friday to Sunday in the Outdoor Plaza and North Valet Lot. Below are the list of participating retailers and eateries. The department stores are now fully open as well (masks required of course).


  • Athleta (Thursdays & Fridays only + the weekend of 8/21)
  • California Pizza Kitchen: outdoor dining on their patio, adjacent to Forest Avenue (open 7 days a week)
  • Champs Sports
  • The Waffle Roost Food Truck (@thewaffleroost | Saturday's only from 12 - 3:30)
  • Coach
  • Cotton On
  • Cotton On Kids 
  • David Yuman
  • Din Tai Fung: outdoor dining on their pop-up patio, adjacent to Forest Avenue (open 7 days a week) 
  • Foot Locker 
  • Fresh Society
  • Haagen Dazs (open 7 days a week in the North Valet) 
  • Hugo Boss
  • Johnny Was (only Sat & Sun) 
  • Kay Jewelers 
  • Koja Kitchen Bar
  • Levi's
  • Lovesac
  • MCM
  • Mex Cal Taco Truck
  • Pac Sun
  • Pottery Barn 
  • Quay Australia
  • Rabbit Rabbit Tea 
  • Salt & Straw (open 7 days a week on the plaza)
  • Shoe Palace
  • Talbots 
  • UNTUCKit (open 7 days a week on the plaza)
  • Young Art Lessons 
  • Zales
  • Zumiez

Source: San Jose Inside

Monday, August 24, 2020

Japantown mixed-use development proposal

Downtown San Jose receives most of the attention when it comes to dense high-rise development these days, but there are some interesting proposals outside of the area. For example, there is a new project on the table in Japantown that would include multiple towers on the area bound by Taylor Street, Miller Street, George Street, and North First Street. It would include a 210 foot tall tower with 244 apartments, 61,000 SQFT of office space, 5,560 SQFT of retail, and 731 parking spaces.

The project would also be right in the middle of the North 1st Street Local Transit Village Plan, which will hopefully accommodate thousands of new homes and jobs in the future. Currently the area houses a surface parking lot and a one-story office building. This would be a major upgrade for the area.

If all goes well this could be approved by the City Council later this year or in Q1 of 2021. It would then take at least a couple more years to build.

Source: SVBJ

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

A Bowling Alley is coming to Downtown San Jose!

If like me, you're craving new entertainment options amidst the COVID era... we have some good news. Believe it or not, a new bowling alley with cocktails and games is coming to the heart of San Jose on Santa Clara Street. Oh, and it's under construction as we speak!

If you're scratching you're head wondering where this could possibly go, it's being built in the two-story space formerly occupied by AFK Gamer Lounge. It looks like the Bowling Alley with four lanes will be in the basement along with a private dining area and the ground floor will feature vintage arcade games, pinball, pool, and karaoke.

The project is called San Pedro Social and you can learn more over here.

Source: jgordo32 from the San Jose Development Forum

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Kebabery by Meso now open at Santana Row (pickup & delivery only)

Meso has become one of my favorite restaurants at Santana Row. Not only are the food and drinks consistently great, but they have gone above and beyond with their COVID policies. Tables are spaced out 15 feet apart across the beautiful plaza at the end of the Row with plenty of heat lamps (photo below). The ambiance and Mediterranean dining are on point. It feels like a two hour escape from reality where I'm not missing indoor dining one bit.

The owners of Meso have opened a virtual eatery, which means they share the kitchen with Meso and don't have any sit-down options. The food is only available for pickup and delivery. Featured are some of the key signature kebabs from Meso, including Impossible meat and swordfish kebabs, and several delicious sides like sweet potato with spiced honey harissa, hummus with lemon and extra virgin olive oil, and baklava for dessert.

It's a great casual alternative option, especially considering Meso is one of the higher-end options on the Row and it can get pricey.

The virtual restaurant is open every day from 11:30am to 9pm and you can use either DoorDash or UberEats for delivery.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Goodbye validation passes, City-owned Downtown parking lots now provide 90 minutes of free parking to all

We all knew that eventually parking fees would return to Downtown San Jose garages. Fortunately there is a new compromise that is a fair solution. The annoying parking vouchers that most people would forget to ask for are now gone. Instead everyone gets 90 minutes of free parking, regardless of where you go Downtown.

I love this idea as it make Downtown competitive with other places in San Jose that offer free parking. Want to check out that new flower shop on Santa Clara Street? No problem, now there is no need to hunt for cheap parking or validation. Just find the closest garage and walk to the store. If you need more time, it's just $1 per $15 minutes with reasonable caps on weeknights and weekends. For example, 2 hours of parking costs $2 and 3 hours is $6. Employees earning less than $20/hour also get a 50% discount on fees.

For more info on the changes, head over here.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

San Jose 2030 Halfway Point Video

David Manzo from San Jose 2030 has been chronicling Downtown San Jose development since 2010 and plans on releasing a 20-year-long video time lapse in 2030. We're now halfway through the project and he release a promo video below. Check out more videos and comments at the San Jose 2030 Facebook page over here!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

August 2020 Downtown Dimension Highlights

The latest addition of Downtown Dimension is now live. Below is a summary of the content this month.

The AUGUST 2020 Downtown Dimension is now available for download.

In this edition:
  • San Pedro Street between Santa Clara and St. John streets closes for al fresco dining, the first such street closure in the city.
  • A new ParkSJ parking plan begins Aug.3.  The first 90 minutes are free. The temporary free street parking period due to coronavirus also ends Aug. 3.
  • A new survey by Gensler reveals most workers would prefer to go back to the office.
  • A three-sided mural goes up on the Third Street parking garage.
  • Long-time Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino has some thoughts on downtown's past and future as he leaves his position to head a green energy company.
  • SJDA oversees lighting and tree re-planting projects downtown.
  • More building acquisitions and new structural designs downtown.
SJDA's first virtual public meeting coming up Aug. 14

SJDA's meeting Aug. 14 will stream live on Facebook Live starting at 8:15 a.m.  To view the meeting, simply go to our Facebook page @sjdowntown.  The meeting will include a detailed presentation about SJDA's Stabilization Plan, which identifies what's next for the Downtown Association in the near-term and looking out 2-3 years.  More than 1,200 people responded to our survey request, many of which indicating they wanted to hear about the results, so we're expecting a large viewership that day.

We hope you can "attend" from your home or office.

Another way to stay connected to downtown:

The Downtowner Online continues to be sent out on Wednesdays.  This weekly email features downtown businesses including virtual events and ways to support downtown. Subscribe

Monday, August 10, 2020

New San Jose Landmark Proposals!

After years of planning, we finally have an opportunity to make an internationally recognized landmark for San Jose! Urban Confluence Silicon Valley has collected hundreds of idea submissions from around the globe for an iconic landmark that incorporates modern technology, history, art, architecture, engineering, and place-making. These came from architects, artists, urban planners, and development enthusiasts from 72 different countries across 6 continents.

The next step is to choose three finalists that will each receive $150,000 to refine and re-develop their concept. After that a single winner will be chosen around April 2021 and fundraising would begin for what could be a $100 million+ project next to the SAP Center on the Arena Green.

I've gone through all 960 submissions, and some are truly epic. Below are images of my personal favorites. I love so many of these, but my vote would go to the Infinity Ring at the end (check out the video). It looks amazing despite the 200ft height restriction, you can walk inside it to cross the river while getting a view of San Jose, and it can do some impressive lighting effects than amplify it's coolness. Which is your favorite?

List of Top Submissions
List of all Submissions

The Ring

Ode To Nature

The Statue of Innovation

The Bulb

Urban Spiral

The Caterpillar

Super Natural Skypark

San Jose

Kinetic Obelisk

Land Lux

The Guadaloop

The Infinity Ring

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

SJDA's first public meeting since Feb will discuss Downtown stabilization plan

It's been a brutal four and a half months for Downtown San Jose businesses. Multiple restaurants have shut their doors for good and yesterday I heard MUJI will be closing.

The San Jose Downtown Association has a stabilization plan, which they will be discussing next week at their first public board meeting since the start of the year. They surveyed more than 1,200 people and have prepared a presentation to discuss short-term solutions for helping the Downtown business community during the COVID crisis.

The meeting takes place on Friday, August 14, 2020 at 8:15am-9:30am using Facebook live. For more info, click here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Christmas in the Park is going to look vastly different this year

You might be wondering what will happen to one of San Jose's most beloved events this year due to Covid. Fortunately, Christmas in the Park will go on this year. Unfortunately, it will not be in Downtown San Jose for the first time in 40 years.

The current plan is to turn Christmas in the Park into a drive-through holiday experience at History San Jose. Below are a few mock-ups of what the revised event could look like. While it will be different, that's not necessarily a bad thing. It could be a very innovative experience and provide some fresh ideas for 2021. I'm looking forward to it and hope Downtown San Jose still goes all out this year during the holidays.

Source: SVBJ