By Len Ramirez

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — New high-rise projects are about to push San Jose’s historically low-rise skyline to new levels. But there’s a catch to all of this development.

When Mayor Sam Liccardo pulls up the blinds at his 18th floor office at City Hall, he sees a city growing up.

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“I think you’re going to see more unique architecture as the downtown evolves,” Liccardo said.

That evolution is taking off again. At least four new high rise commercial and residential projects in the pipeline for Downtown San Jose. Dramatic, soaring projects that will reshape the city skyline and bring thousands of more residents to live here.

“We are seeing much more interest and investment in the downtown than I think anyone has seen in several generations,” Liccardo told KPIX 5.

But the sky is not the limit. Downtown San Jose lies in the final approach flight path to Mineta San Jose International Airport. The FAA has restricted buildings to 24 stories on the south end of downtown and 18 stories closer to the airport.

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It will forever give the city a “blockier” look than a Manhattanized one.

“I’m certain we have lost an opportunity to build dozens of high rise towers because of the height restrictions imposed by the airport,” Liccardo said.

When new buildings go up, parking will go away. Acres of surface level parking lots, a downtown mainstay for decades, will slowly disappear as new buildings take their place.

“We’re going to have a lot of underground parking to replace that,” said Jimmy Starkovich, who has worked in Downtown San Jose for 40 years.

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“San Jose is really starting to become alive,” he said.