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Google’s highly anticipated “mega-campus” in San Jose, California, may be on hold, according to a recent report from CNBC. The “Downtown West” facility was met with protests from activists who opposed the sale of public land and the demolition of historic buildings to make way for Google’s project. However, San Jose eventually approved the project after a $200 million benefits package was offered, which included housing for thousands of families and public parks.
The project was supposed to break ground in early 2023, but that date has passed, and the site remains a barren field with the most completed demolition of historic locations and beloved local attractions. The report from CNBC suggests that the project’s delay may be due to Google’s recent financial struggles, as the company has suffered a series of setbacks in the past few quarters.
David Radcliffe, the main cheerleader for the project, left Google in 2022, and his replacement, Scott Foster, is described as “more conservative in spending”. Contractors were informed in late 2022 that the project could face delays, and in February 2023, the lead developer laid off 67 employees, including those directly associated with Google’s project. Despite construction vehicles being present on the site, there was no sign of work being done.
In February, Google announced that it would have to take a $500 million hit to cut down on office space, and the company said that other real estate changes were likely going forward. A spokesperson for Google said in an emailed statement to CNBC that the company was “working to ensure our real estate investments match the future needs of our hybrid workforce, our business, and our communities”. The spokesperson added that the company was “still committed to San Jose for the long term and believes in the importance of the development”.
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However, the future of the site remains unclear, and the delay or cancellation of the project could be detrimental to San Jose. The area now resembles a demolition zone rather than the productive downtown it once was, and vendors, construction companies, and contractors expecting work from the project have nothing to show for it. The company’s continued investment in other projects, such as a campus in Boulder, Colorado, and a data center in Texas, suggests that Google may be shifting its focus away from the San Jose project for the time being.