Preservationists seek court order to stall demolition of “brutalist” 1973 San Jose building, possibly thwarting massive redevelopment project

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170 Park Ave. San jose
The building at 170 Park Ave. (Google Street View)

A preservationist group has gone to court  to undo the city of San Jose’s approval of a vast redevelopment of a key block in downtown San Jose and halt the bulldozing of a building constructed in the early 1970s.

Court papers show that the Preservation Action Council of San Jose has raised concerns in a court filing about the potential razing of the Bank of California building as part of a proposal to create a modern tech campus that would replace the CityView Plaza, the Mercury News reports.

The newspaper asserts that the CityView Plaza redevelopment would be “a game-changer for downtown San Jose, a project that could bring 14,000 or more jobs to the city’s urban core.”

cityview repacement
Rendering of the planned CityView development

However, the preservationists believe that the structure at 170 Park Ave., built in 1973, “is an architectural example of brutalism, a minimalist style that emerged in Great Britain during the 1950s when the nation was attempting to quickly and inexpensively reconstruct neighborhoods that were shattered during World War II.”

“Preservation Action Council of San Jose challenges the City of San Jose’s approval of the CityView Plaza Project, which would needlessly demolish significant historic resources in the guise of progress,” the group says in its motion for for a court order stopping the project.

A settlement conference is slated for Oct. 27 in Santa Clara County Superior Court. The group seeks to use the California Environment Quality Act, or CEQA, to challenge the city’s June 2020 decision that approved the CityView redevelopment, the newspaper reported.

“They don’t call it ‘brutalist’ architecture for nothing,” the Mercury quoted San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo as saying. “It’s the kind of building only a CEQA lawyer could love.”

“The building can and should be incorporated into any new project on the CityView Plaza site, which is large enough to accommodate significant new construction without sacrificing one of the City’s most distinctive buildings,” the Preservation Action Council said in the filing. The group is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and promoting “historically significant resources in San Jose,” its website states.

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