SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – Record-setting investments and big commercial office deals are still happening in Silicon Valley, even though many of the big office buildings are still empty during the pandemic.

“We’ve had in one week in Silicon Valley the largest office leases of the year in the United States and the largest investment sales of the year in the United States,” said Mark Ritchie of Ritchie Commercial in San Jose.

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In one of the latest big office deals, a British investment company just paid what’s believed to be a San Jose record price per square foot for three office buildings on Coleman Avenue in North San Jose.

“It just shows the incredible global interest in investing in Silicon Valley, to buy the office space for the tech firms in anticipation of the post-COVID return to the workplace,” Ritchie said.

But in some parts of downtown San Jose, the only sounds you hear is the pounding and machinery of high-rises going up.

And most of the people on the sidewalks are construction workers.

With most office employees still working from home, once busy streets and sidewalks have a ghost town effect.

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“I think it’s fairly dramatic, we have light foot traffic during the week,” said Randy Musterer who owns two sushi restaurants, one in downtown San Jose.

“We are getting some corporate, but definitely not what we’re used to,” he said.

It’s still a struggle for the small businesses who are trying to survive.

“It’s an uneven recovery, there are still a lot of shocks with the work from home policies, the supply chain shortages. Small businesses are away from full recovery. And so, while things are seemingly going in the right direction, that’s going to be top of mind as we look into some of these future investments,” said Derrick Seaver, President and CEO of the San Jose Chamber of Commerce.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel but will that be a year from now? Two years from now or 10 years from now?” asked Musterer.

No one knows the answers, but those who can afford to ride out COVID are putting their money down here.

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“Anyone who thinks it’s over for the Bay Area, for San Francisco, San Jose and are moving to Texas doesn’t know what’s going on.  This is still the absolute center of the universe for new technology and innovation,” Ritchie said.