San Jose unanimously approves massive Museum Place project with labor agreement

San Jose unanimously approves massive Museum Place project with labor agreement

The San Jose City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved Insight Realty Co.’s massive Museum Place development, which is slated to rise in the city’s downtown.

Insight Realty plans to demolish the city-owned Parkside Hall and add a 60,475-square-foot expansion to the Tech Museum and a new 25-story mixed-use tower.

The 1.4 million-square-foot development will be divvied up between the museum expansion, 263,676-square feet of office space, 306 residential units, 184 hotel rooms and 21,074-square feet of retail.

The development will also include new public art and space for about 900 cars with the help of valet services and mechanical storage devices, according to city documents.

“It’s exciting to see the project evolve since we submitted the [request for proposals] together,” Bob Staedler, a longtime land-use consultant, said after the vote. “In a way, downtown is catching up to the vision of Museum Place with all the excitement of the Google development. It is another milestone project for downtown.”

Staedler is a principal at Silicon Valley Synergy who was part of the team that put together the original Museum Place proposal.

The project has also been hailed by city officials as a major boon for San Jose.

“This is the most mixed-use project that has happened in downtown San Jose, or I would say anywhere in the Bay Area, maybe outside of SanFrancisco,” Kim Walesh, deputy city manager and director of economic development said in an interview about the project last month after the project was unanimously approved by the Planning Commission.

The project was buoyed even more Tuesday because of a full project labor agreement Insight Realty was able to strike with local labor unions ahead of the vote. The hotel portion of the development, which will be operated by luxury chain Kimpton Hotel, will also be staffed with union labor.

Many union leaders and workers showed up Tuesday to throw their support behind the project during the public testimony portion of the meeting. Among them, Josue Garcia, CEO of the Santa Clara and San Benito Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, who said the group was “eager to lend our full support for the project,” before praising Insight Realty executives for being willing to negotiate the labor agreement.

Museum Place will move forward with check-ins and required approvals for changes to the amount of office, retail or hotel rooms, per an adopted 13-point memo authored and signed by Mayor Sam Liccardo, Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco and council members Raul Peralez and Johnny Khamis.

The memo also directs Insight to “take all necessary measures to preserve the public use and operation of The Tech and the Civic Auditorium during construction of the project.”

City Council members Tuesday approved the project swiftly Tuesday after offering unanimous praise for the project.

Peralez commended Insight Realty’s Managing Director Dennis Randall for his work within the community and with labor groups ahead of the vote.

“You went out and engaged with the community and our labor representatives,” he told Randall. “You built report and were able to come to agreement. I know it was not easy but the project, I believe, is still a tremendous project.”