By Len Ramirez

SAN JOSE (KPIX) – A massive new Google urban village is coming to San Jose and promises to transform the downtown core.

Details released for the project near Diridon Station known as Downtown West include 7.3 million square feet of new office space, plus a billion dollars in shops, plazas, parks, trails, open space for public Use.

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Google says it will preserve iconic older buildings and also plans to spend another $200 million
on community benefits such as 1,000 affordable housing units, homeless prevention and support for small businesses.

“Google has been very clear from the start. It will neither be a supplicant or a savior of our city but rather a community partner,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Liccardo spoke in front of a decades-old neon sign known as the “dancing pig.” The sign, for Stephen’s Meat Products, is a quirky symbol of a bygone era on a block where Google plans to build. Liccardo said it’s an example of how the existing downtown community won’t be erased when Google moves to town.

“Google has committed to preserving that dancing pig,” Liccardo said.

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The plans have been in the works for about four years, and Google has been pressured every step of the way by community groups and homeless advocates who fear poor people will be displaced by wealthy tech workers.

Pastor Scott Wagers led one of the first protests four years ago. Now, some of what groups demanded are in the plans. But Wagers says it’s a fraction of the overall project, and problems have only gotten worse because of the pandemic.

“It’s good that Google is doing more but they can do more. If anyone can make a dent in the problem, it’s Google,” Wagers said.

Google’s plans for community benefits may be an attempt to sweeten the deal ahead of a crucial City Council vote next month. Google says it could be a new way the company plans to do business.

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“Downtown West is a great example of a new way to approach development, where community is placed front and center,” said Alexa Arena, Google’s San Jose Development Director.