Wednesday, September 12, 2007

San Jose, You're Having the Worst Week Ever!

It's been a deadly week in San Jose, especially if you're Living Tomorrow or The San Jose Grand Prix.

Here's word from LT's San Jose website:

Living Tomorrow San Jose concept (Source: Businessweek)

Living Tomorrow has been generating a lot of excitement, positive reactions from potential participants ever since announcing its upcoming Silicon Valley project.
Living Tomorrow has always been proud of the sponsorship returns it is able to provide its participants. However, due to construction issues, pricing and the resulting timeline consequences, Living Tomorrow couldn't guarantee its potential participants a return on investment that would be at the levels we typically provide to our participants in Europe. Because of this, Living Tomorrow has decided not to develop a Silicon Valley project at this time. Living Tomorrow thanks you for your support and continued interest, and if your company would like to explore participation in Europe, we would be happy to welcome you as a participant in our second Living Tomorrow project currently in development in Amsterdam. Peter Bongers and Frank Beliën - Chairmen & Founders Living Tomorrow

Merc story here.

Vis their site, the SJGP says:

Racing on Park Avenue (Source:

After three years as one of Bay Area's largest sporting events, organizers of the San Jose Grand Prix announced today they are ceasing operations, citing the ongoing development taking place in the downtown area.

Commercial and residential developments in and around the 1.5 mile downtown track continue to limit the options available to the Grand Prix for revenue growth and expansion. In addition to new housing developments on Balbach Street (which served as the back straightaway) and the impact to its residents, race organizers were faced with the loss of its main grandstands on Almaden Boulevard due to upcoming construction in the Boston Properties lot.

"The reality of racing on a temporary street circuit is that change happens continuously and this is especially true in a dynamic and growing city center like downtown San Jose," said Grand Prix President Dale Jantzen. "Development is good for San Jose but in this case, bad for the Grand Prix. We have not found a way to replace the loss of one of our primary revenue sources, the Gold Grandstands on Almaden Boulevard," stated Jantzen. "Boston Properties is set to undertake some major developments in the area and that means the San Jose Grand Prix is no longer viable in its current location and will not operate in 2008 or beyond."

The Grand Prix provided the City of San Jose with world-wide exposure as part of the Champ Car World Series. Broadcast nationally and internationally, in each of its three years the race attracted well over 100,000 fans for each event. In addition, the City of San Jose estimated that the economic impact to America's 10th largest city was approximately $70M over the three year period.

Grand Prix organizers wish to thank the fans and other supporters who came to the event and participated in all of its festivities. In addition, race organizers thank those companies that supported this event in their community, specifically Redback Networks, Taylor Woodrow, Bottomley Distributing (Budweiser) and the Northern California Toyota Dealers. Finally they would like to thank the City of San Jose for being a good partner and host.

Merc obit here.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Trainspotting Silicon Valley

Help Silicon Valley's efforts to route California's high-speed rail through San Jose!
Voice your support at 4 p.m. today (Friday, August 24) in the council chambers of San Jose City Hall (200 E. Santa Clara Street).

If you cant make it, drop the California High-Speed Rail Authority a line @:

California High-Speed Rail Authority

925 L Street Suite 1425
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 324-1541

or use their comment line.

Its either Silicon Valley or the Easy Bay (via the Altamont Pass). You'd think it be an easy decision...but you'd be wrong.

Friday, August 10, 2007

"San Jose, tear down this wall!"

The San Jose McEnery Convention Center (Photo: Natasha Lloyd)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Tales of the Blue Monkey

I was sad to see that the great Blue Monkey on San Fernando recently shut its doors . As reported by Metro's The Fly:

Owner Jorge Sanchez, who also owns Chacho's in downtown San Jose, blames the city's bureaucratic hall of mirrors, which he was forced to enter when the police flagged him for noncompliance for an assembly permit (not to be confused with an occupancy permit, which was in order. How anyone can have occupants who are not assembling remains a mystery). With no grace period in which to comply, Sanchez's occupancy was reduced from 149 to 49 people. Thus hamstrung, he then embarked on a four-month epic paperwork journey full of hand drawings, fire inspectors, engineers, more hand drawings, building inspectors, planners, parking assessments, an address change, fees, more fees and time. Lots of time. Hemorrhaging money while on the cusp of renegotiating his lease, Sanchez made some last desperate calls to the city. "It wasn't a priority for a lot of people I was making comments to," says Sanchez, "so I just decided to close."

Now comes word that the city is leaning on Angels Ultra Lounge in the SoFA for underage drinking. Obviously, underage drinking shouldn't be tolerated, but it seems like any police citation, big or small, means a bureaucratic quagmire for downtown businesses. I don't think I've ever seen a city so actively try to kill its successful entertainment establishments. Meanwhile, San Jose Convention & Visitors Bureau's website proudly proclaims "The fun never stops." What a joke.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Living End

I'm anxious to see what the innovative folks at SOM Architects have in mind for Living Tomorrow's new San Jose location on San Fernando (btw, check out their elegant proposal for San Francisco's new Transbay Terminal). According to the July Downtown Management Report from the RDA, "The developer is currently working with SOM Architects to redesign the building to allow for hotel, residential, and Living Tomorrow uses. The hotel portion of the design is said to be for a new eco-friendly "1" Hotel and Residences from Starwood, the folks that brought us the "W" hotel chain. Downtown could sorely use a new hotel, so this is a welcomed addition. Plus, its an exciting concept to pair with Living Tomorrow.

I have high hopes for the design of this new building. If Living Tomorrow's Amsterdam and Vilvoorde locations are any indication
SOM's vision could radically challenge downtown San Jose's less than impressive architectural face. Living Tomorrow, combined with CIM's Tower 88, could make San Fernando an exciting downtown locale. Hopefully, Living Tomorrow renders will be out by the end of the year.

Living Tomorrow Amsterdam (Photo: UNStudio)

Living Tomorrow Vilvoorde (Photo: Maisons Privees)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The San Jose Century

San Jose City Hall (Photo: Tak)

Not long ago, I came across a book called The San Francisco Century. Its a lavish book about San Francisco during the 20th century. The City by the Bay certainly had it pretty good during the last hundred years. But the book got me thinking about San Francisco's sister to the south, San Jose. The 20th century, particularly the latter half, was also very good to San Jose. In the space of one hundred years, our city was transformed from a sleepy agricultural town into the technological center of the world. And so I wondered about what the 21st century would hold for the Silicon Capital.

Santa Clara Street (Photo: Michael Patrick)

As I see it, the 21st century will continue to be good to America's great cities, such as San Francisco. However, I predict the emergence of a new tier of cities. Over the course of the next hundred years, places such as San Diego, Salt Lake City, Portland, Miami, and Austin will emerge to challenge the nation's traditional centers of power, like Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago. I believe San Jose will be on the forefront of these 21st century cities. Indeed, San Jose should be.

Evergreen Valley (Photo: lisa.amorao)

But in order for San Jose to take its place amongst the premier cities of the 21st century, nationally but also internationally, some thinking in the city will have to change. Specifically, the city's leaders will have to expand their vision of what San Jose can and should be. Small-town thinking by city leaders and developers over the past few decades has left San Jose with a lot of catching up to do. Likewise, the biggest obstacle the city must overcome is its own perception of itself. San Joseans have always had to endure snubs from prickly San Franciscans, but the worst smears come from San Joseans themselves. Too many San Joseans think in NIMBY-ish and short-sighted terms, preferring instead for the city to stay a grand suburb. But great cities aren't built upon suburban hopes. Instead, great cities set forth to create unique identities for themselves. San Jose will never be San Francisco. And we shouldn't try. We can be something different. Something our own. A city as diverse as ours deserves nothing less.

Downtown Ice (Photo: Michael Patrick)

And so, hopefully SJ/21 will do its part in contributing to a new dialogue in the city. With downtown San Jose in the midst of unprecedented development, now is the time for serious questions to be asked and unique visions to be heard. This site may not always have nice things to say about those that make the decisions, but SJ/21's purpose is to push the boundaries of the San Jose that can be. Let's be aggressive in our pursuit of the San Jose of tomorrow. In the future, we'll look at all sorts of issues pertaining to the future development of the city. Its an interesting time to live in the city, for sure. With major issues, such as BART, North First, and Coyote Valley, and fascinating proposals, like those of the San Jose Downtown Association and 1stAct, there should be plenty to talk about.

Alum Rock Park (Photo: So Sylvie )

This website would also like to thank all of those at Skyscraper City's San Jose Development News thread. Its very informed participants, many of whom we hope will contribute here, served as SJ/21's inspiration. Likewise, SJ/21 hopes its readers will contribute to the dialogue. Please feel free to comment anytime. This site will always welcome all perspectives. Links on your sites are also appreciated.

Okay, now let's get to work...