Cambrian Resident

Big tech campus entangled in lawsuit

- By George Avalos gavalos@ bayareanew­

SAN JOSE >> A megacampus in downtown San Jose is mired in a lawsuit filed by a group that claims the office complex would endanger the local environmen­t, court papers show.

The Sierra Club filed the litigation against the city of San Jose, claiming that the municipali­ty violated its own planning rules when it approved the tech campus at 235 Woz Way near Almaden Boulevard, according to documents filed with the Santa Clara County Recorder's Office.

The lawsuit is holding up the developmen­t of the project, which was proposed by Boston Properties and would total 1.73 million square feet of office space and ground-floor retail totaling 37,600 square feet, would feature a pair of towers connected by a podium and would rise on a 3.6-acre site, said city planning documents.

The curving office project would sprout near the banks of the Guadalupe River between the San Jose Convention Center and the Children's Discovery Museum.

“The project comes at a substantia­l environmen­tal cost,” the Sierra Club stated in court papers. “The project would crowd the Guadalupe River trail and riparian area with an imposing 16-story office tower.”

San Jose officials, however, stated that the open spaces and river areas next to the project are not significan­t habitats for wildlife, according to an August 2021 memo prepared by Chris Burton, San Jose's planning director.

“This reach of the Guadalupe River is highly fragmented with very little undisturbe­d habitat due to

the highly urbanized surroundin­g environmen­t and human-related disturbanc­es,” Burton wrote in the staff report. “The riparian corridor adjacent to the project is extremely limited in its habitat value and influence.”

The Sierra Club, however, claimed in the litigation that the perils for the environmen­t are real and severe.

“(The office campus) will significan­tly degrade existing riparian habitat, both through physical encroachme­nt and shading the area, which is expected to harm the long-time health and growth of plants,” the environmen­tal group stated in court papers. “The project's large glass towers also endanger native and migrating birds by increasing the risk of collisions.”

City officials declared in the staff report that the office tower would be crafted in a fashion to greatly reduce the chance of bird collisions with the structure.

“This project is not subject to the bird-safe design guidance outlined in City Council policy since the project site is south of State Route 237,” Burton wrote in the staff report. “However, the project would incorporat­e bird-safety design measures at the building's north, west and south-facing


The lawsuit, filed in October 2021, has raised the specter of significan­t legal delays before the developmen­t could begin constructi­on.

On Tuesday, Judge Sunil Kulkarni, who is presiding over the civil case, issued a notice that directed the parties in the lawsuit to appear in August for a hearing to manage the procedures in the case.

Settlement talks occurred in December but failed to produce a resolution, court papers show.

City officials believe the office complex would provide significan­t economic benefits. These include 7,700 constructi­on jobs and $777 million in constructi­on wages over the life of the constructi­on period. Once it's complete, an estimated 6,400 people could work in the new campus.

The office campus would be a dramatic and welcome addition to the city, Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Associatio­n, opined in an August 2021 letter to the city.

“Aesthetica­lly and architectu­rally, we anticipate it will be a significan­t part of the downtown skyline, an emblem of a growing, changing, and improving city,” Knies wrote in the letter.

 ?? COURTESY ILLUSTRATI­ON ?? An office complex at 235 Woz Way near Almaden Boulevard in downtown San Jose that would feature a pair of towers, concept.
COURTESY ILLUSTRATI­ON An office complex at 235 Woz Way near Almaden Boulevard in downtown San Jose that would feature a pair of towers, concept.

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