Massive tech campus construction project emerges in downtown San Jose

Platform 16 office campus in downtown San Jose, totaling 1.1 million square feet, concept. (Cohn Pedersen Fox Associates)

SAN JOSE — A major real estate company says it is confident in the prospects for downtown San Jose, pointing to its ongoing construction progress to complete a massive technology campus in the city’s urban core.

The Platform 16 office complex, which is expected to be an eye-catching office center near Diridon Station, is a highly visible major bet being placed on downtown San Jose by a development alliance of Boston Properties – which spends to the company name BXP — and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

“It’s huge. It demonstrates the confidence of sophisticated builders who are making very big investments in the future of our city,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in an interview with this news agency after he visited the construction site of the Platform 16 technology campus.

Devcon Construction, the general contractor for the 16-million-square-foot Platform Complex, is installing the extensive foundation at the site, a months-long process slated for completion in December.

Construction workers and construction equipment are seen in the excavation area of ​​the Platform 16 Technology Campus project at 440 W. Julian St. in downtown San Jose, October 2022. (George Avalos/ Bay Area News Group) 10-5-22
Construction workers and construction equipment are seen in the excavation area of ​​the Platform 16 Technology Campus project at 440 W. Julian St. in downtown San Jose, October 2022. (George Avalos /Bay Area News Group)10-5-22 (George Avalos /Bay Area News Group)

When complete, Platform 16 would total 1.1 million square feet and consist of three office buildings and a garage on a site bounded by Autumn Parkway, West Julian Street, North Autumn Street and a line of path of iron.

The development would feature 16 terraces and sprout a short distance from Google’s proposed Downtown West neighborhood footprint.

The current first phase of the development is expected to produce a modern office building totaling 390,000 square feet. The building is expected to be completed in the first three months of 2025. An underground car park is also part of the first phase. Work on the garage should begin in December.

Platform 16 comes at a time fraught with uncertainty about how quickly employees would return to their office workspaces in the wake of the coronavirus.

Despite these challenges, Boston Properties believes that several factors work in favor of Platform 16. These include the robust nature of the San Jose market as well as the dynamics of Silicon Valley.

Site of the Platform 16 project in downtown San Jose, with scaffolding, cranes and other construction materials and equipment visible at 440 W. Julian St., October 2022. (George Avalos/Bay Area News Group) 10-5-22
Site of the Platform 16 project in downtown San Jose, with scaffolding, cranes and other construction materials and equipment visible at 440 W. Julian St., October 2022. (George Avalos/Bay Area NewsGroup)

Additionally, business leaders are convinced that their employees work better in person rather than by conference call, according to Aaron Fenton, senior vice president of business development at BXP.

“Working from home, employees aren’t as productive,” Fenton said. “We hear from top business leaders across the country saying they believe working in the office drives collaboration and work efficiency.”

BXP also believes that Platform 16 is the type of desktop product that could attract big tech players.

“We believe office projects can be successful as long as you have an ideal location with a top-notch workplace,” Fenton said. “Platform 16 offers that.”

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Evening view of the downtown San Jose Platform 16 office campus being developed near the corner of NorthAutumn Street and West Julian Street, concept. (Cohn Pedersen Fox Associates)

CBRE commercial real estate brokers Sherman Chan, Mark Schmidt, Mike Charters and Will Schmidt are marketing the tech campus and seeking tenants on behalf of landlords.

“We are responding to unmet demand,” Fenton said. “We believe our project is one of many catalysts that can all activate the West Side of Downtown San Jose. Together with Google’s Downtown West, we will have a major positive impact.”

The labor market in the area is boosted by the recent sublease deal tech titan ByteDance secured for 658,000 square feet at the Coleman Highline complex in San Jose. Coleman Highline is a successful project just up the road from the downtown district.

Deals like the ByteDance deal bode well for Platform 16, especially since the first office building in this development won’t arrive for just over two years.

“By the time this project is fully completed and ready for occupancy, the state of the office market will be completely different,” said Bob Staedler, senior director of Silicon Valley Synergy, a land-use planning consultancy. “Developing closer to mass transit will become the new normal.”

The development of Platform 16 generates an average of 150 construction jobs every day, BXP executives estimate. Once work begins on structures such as the garage and office building, that number is expected to double.

“There are hundreds of construction jobs and once we get out of this period the project can create thousands of jobs,” Mayor Liccardo said.

When completed, Platform 16 could accommodate 5,500 jobs. Even the first office building could house 2,000 workers.

“There are a lot of doubts about downtown San Jose,” Liccardo said. “Smart, long-term money is being placed on the future of downtown.”

Site of the Platform 16 construction project at 440 W. Julian St. in downtown San Jose, October 2022. (George Avalos/Bay Area News Group) 10-5-22
Site of the Platform 16 construction project at 440 W. Julian St. in downtown San Jose, October 2022. (George Avalos/Bay Area News Group)

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