With all the buzz about Google’s big ideas for downtown San Jose, Adobe Systems came in under the public radar Thursday with a plan for a fourth high rise near its corporate headquarters at Park Avenue and Almaden Boulevard.
Best. Downtown. News. Ever.
Oh, maybe not “Ever.” The announcement last month of Google’s vision for an urban mega-campus nearby was pretty exciting, the stuff of dreams. But it’s in its infancy as a project, more a fantastic idea than a solid plan.
Adobe is here and now.
More important, it’s been here. It was the first major company to build a high rise corporate headquarters downtown — in 1996, before even BART, let alone high-speed rail, was seriously planned for Diridon Station. Thank then-Mayor Susan Hammer for making that happen. By 2003 the company had added two more adjacent high rises.
Now it is “doubling down,” as Adobe Vice President Jonathan Francom told Bay Area News Group reporter George Avalos, adding room for 3,000 additional jobs to the current 2,500 downtown. The land on San Fernando Street is under contract. A bird in the hand.
Startups, dynamic shared work spaces like WeWork and NextSpace and satellite offices of a some major tech companies fill office buildings downtown. But Adobe validates the city center as a place for a technology giant to expand and for its people to work.
Adobe is good for San Jose in another way: It’s the gold standard as a corporate citizen.
Like most global companies, its philanthropy is global, too. But from the beginning, Adobe showed a commitment to local civic engagement that many Silicon Valley companies do not..
It supports San Jose projects and events. Its executives provide leadership on local boards. And it has been a consistent supporter of the arts, establishing its downtown cred by helping to make its neighborhood a more dynamic urban place.
Oh, and the Semaphore. The Ben Rubin installation unveiled in 2006 for the Zero1 art and technology festival is a puzzle for scientists and students to solve. If you drive south on Highway 87 after dark past the mostly ho-hum downtown skyline, you can’t miss the rotating orbs.
Google hopes to build space for as many as 20,000 jobs downtown in an urban village around Diridon Station, a short walk from Adobe. It’s a different time from the 1990s, and it’s a way bigger vision. If it comes to fruition, it will be a game changer for downtown and for the city’s economy.
But there’s a long way to go. When the land is secured — that’s far from complete — the company will have to begin working with City Hall and the community on design — mixing in retail, housing and public spaces for a high-rise transit village. Fortunately, Google representatives say the company is committed to being a good corporate citizen and neighbor. But it will be years before ground is broken.
Adobe is now. That counts for a lot.
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