Los Gatos Weekly Times

Demolition begins at proposed site of tower

- By George Avalos gavalos@bayareanew­sgroup.com

SAN JOSE >> Demolition is underway at the site of an old downtown San Jose building where a green office tower could sprout and enable people to work in a garden.

Constructi­on equipment and debris from the start of the demolition of the old Parkside Hall complex were visible this week on the site of an office tower expected to feature a “green lung” — a vast central courtyard to provide ventilatio­n and cooling — and a series of gardens.

The new high rise, called Park Habitat, is an environmen­tally friendly office and retail complex that will total 1.2 million square feet when completed.

Park Habitat is being developed by an alliance of mega-developer Westbank, a real estate firm with a global reach, and local developer Urban Community, which is headed up by Gary Dillabough and Jeff Arrillaga.

The new green tower represents one of at least seven distinct projects that Westbank and Urban Community are planning as part of what the companies call their downtown San Jose campus. The projects include multiple office and residentia­l towers.

“San Jose has emerged as the natural future hub for Silicon Valley,” Ian Gillespie, Westbank's founder, said in late April to announce that the Park Habitat tower was getting underway. “The ingredient­s needed for intelligen­t city-building have converged there.”

The 20-story tower will include 60,800 square feet of museum space to be used for the expansion of The Tech Interactiv­e museum, as well as 11,700 square feet of ground-floor retail for restaurant­s and shops.

“Our Park Habitat project marks a starting point in what we hope will become a broader contributi­on to this city and Silicon Valley as a

whole,” Gillespie said.

The green tower will rise next to the 200 Park office tower, a high rise being developed by real estate firm Jay Paul Co.

“The Parkside Hall demolition has been a long time coming,” said Bob Staedler, principal executive with Silicon Valley Synergy, a land-use consultanc­y. “The Westbank and Jay Paul projects side by side will create a cool area in downtown San Jose when completed.”

The demolition launch for Park Habitat means that three brandnew speculativ­e office complexes are under constructi­on at the same time in downtown San Jose: Park Habitat, 200 Park and Platform 16, which is near the Diridon train station.

Plus, tech titan Adobe is in the home stretch of the constructi­on of a fourth office tower at its downtown San Jose headquarte­rs complex.

Multiple proposals emerged for the redevelopm­ent of 180 Park Ave. over the last several years. An early

proposal would have added offices, homes and a hotel.

The latest proposal by Westbank and Urban Community appears to be the most dramatic version yet, a project designed by a world-renowned architect, Japan-based Kengo Kuma & Associates.

In addition to the “green lung,” Park Habitat includes pocket gardens and a rooftop forest, along with vegetation throughout the highrise.

“What if we could work in a park?” Kengo Kuma, founder and principal executive of the architectu­ral firm, wrote in a post on the Westbank site.

The architect and the developers aim to upend the concept of the traditiona­l office park. Many Silicon Valley tech parks have replaced orchards that once dotted the region's landscape.

“Our opportunit­y lies in reversal,” Kuma said, “from office park to `park office,' putting nature into the building instead of the other way around.”

 ?? GEORGE AVALOS — STAFF ?? Constructi­on equipment and debris mark the early stages of the demolition of Parkside Hall at 180 Park Ave. in downtown San Jose, the site of a new office tower.
GEORGE AVALOS — STAFF Constructi­on equipment and debris mark the early stages of the demolition of Parkside Hall at 180 Park Ave. in downtown San Jose, the site of a new office tower.

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