Visions for a Massive Redesign of St James Park Face Funding Questions
Posted on June 09, 2020.
Plans for a massive overhaul of Downtown’s St. James Park have been in the works for years. These plans envision a vibrant urban park with an outdoor concert pavilion, café, and dog parks. The dream is to turn it into an iconic and desirable destination in the core of downtown San Jose.
This central park is deeply rooted in San Jose’s history. First developed in the late 1800s, the 7.5-acre park was surrounded by some of the city’s most notable buildings at the time and was the stage for speeches by President William McKinley and presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy.
In late 2016, the city of San Jose hired CMG Landscape Architecture to revamp the park. Officials had originally hoped to have the project up and running with a groundbreaking in 2020. However, without significant funding, the project’s timeline has been pushed back indefinitely. Currently, the estimated price for this endeavor is around $59.1 million. The project has $7 million in allocated funds and is currently under environmental review.
“One of the things that I need to do over the next 4-5 months as the EIR is finalized is to figure out the funding strategy for this,” said Nicolle Burnham, deputy director of capital programs for the city. “How do we move forward, or do we move it forward? Do we move it forward in phases and if so, what does that look like?”
Council member Raul Peralez is in support of phasing the project and believes that through the environmental review we may see aspects of the proposal potentially dropped. One example is The Levitt Pavilion which would accommodate 50 to 300 events annually and hold up to 5,000 people. This component of the design is the most expensive part of the city’s plans.
Peralez stated, “I want to see it (the pavilion) happen, but I don’t want to see that as the detriment of getting the park renovation completed,” the councilman said. “I think we’re getting close to a reality check, and I think we may have to see if there are other ways to value engineer the design in ways to make it more affordable.”
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