Google purchases widen in downtown San Jose for transit village project

SAN JOSE — Google has bought the downtown San Jose site of a metal fabrication shop that’s been in business for nearly seven decades, a fresh purchase by the search giant as it pursues a proposed transit village.

Puccio Machine & Welding Works operates atop of the latest property that Google has collected for its transit-oriented development in downtown San Jose near the Diridon train station and SAP entertainment and sports complex.

The transaction serves as a new reminder of Google’s resolve to create a game-changing development on the western edges of the downtown of the Bay Area’s largest city.

“Google is now a digital nation-state,” said Mark Ritchie, president of San Jose-based Ritchie Commercial, a real estate firm. “They are beyond the measure and definition of a private business enterprise.”

San Jose residents Kenneth Puccio and Kathleen Mitchell sold the property at 357 N. Montgomery St. to Google for slightly more than $1 million, according to public documents filed with Santa Clara County officials on Sept. 10.

The Puccio steel welding shop was founded at that site in 1941 and began the business in support of the nation’s World War II efforts, according to Kerry Puccio, an executive with the company.

The early steel machining and welding work during the war years included jobs for legendary FMC, which in 1941 landed a U.S. War Department contract to construct amphibious tracked landing vehicles. In later decades, FMC produced the Bradley Fighting Vehicle for the nation’s military. For decades, Puccio Machine & Welding also made cans used by the numerous canneries in the South Bay.

Today, much of Puccio Machine’s work focuses on the motorcycle industry and specialized metal work.

Since the tech giant began purchasing properties in downtown San Jose for its transit village, starting in December 2016, Google has spent approximately $387.8 million acquiring an eclectic group of sites.

“Google may find it more difficult to buy properties because people are now aware of what the boundaries are of the development,” said Bob Staedler, principal executive with San Jose-based Silicon Valley Synergy, a land use and planning consultancy.

In late August, Google unveiled the first details of the transit-oriented community that it plans for downtown San Jose, including the anticipated boundaries of its development footprint.

Among the proposal highlights: 6.5 million square feet of offices, up to 5,000 homes, hundreds of hotel rooms, 500,000 square feet of retail, restaurants, arts, cultural hubs, education centers, and other active uses, and 15 acres of parks.

As many as 25,000 people are expected to work in the transit village. The development will flank three sides of the Diridon train station and its rail connections that now include Caltrain, Amtrak, the Capitol Corridor line, the ACE Train, light rail, and that within a few years will add a BART stop.

Downtown San Jose is far from Google’s only area of interest in San Jose and Silicon Valley. The company eyes huge expansions in Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Redwood City. Yet in San Jose alone, Google has taken steps to create new employment hubs downtown, just east of the city’s airport, and next to the Alviso district of north San Jose.

“Right now, the way Google is going, maybe they will have three major campuses in San Jose, each with several million square feet of offices,” Ritchie said.

In downtown San Jose, Google envisions the transit village near Diridon Station as a neighborhood that will be far more than an office park.

“We have an incredible opportunity here,” Alexa Arena said in August during Google’s presentation to a special advisory group during which the project was unveiled. “We can do something really different here.”