Alquist Building in downtown San Jose, Calif.

State-owned site in San Jose, Calif., could become university housing

May 28, 2019
Area leaders want Alquist Building in downtown San Jose declared surplus property so the site can be used for housing for San Jose State University students.

California officials intend to dispose of an outmoded main state government building in downtown San Jose, a decision that may clear the way for badly needed university housing.

The San Jose Mercury-News reports that a key agency is recommending that the state relinquish control of the Alfred E. Alquist Building. If that occurs, the site could be handed over to another California entity such as San Jose State University.

State Sen. Jim Beall and Assemblyman Ash Kalra have spearheaded efforts to persuade the state to designate the building as surplus property.

“SJSU is eager and open to this opportunity as one possible solution to provide much-needed affordable housing for our campus community and revitalization of the Paseo area in downtown San Jose,” says Mary Papazian, president of San Jose State University.

Built in 1980, the 130,000-square-foot, three-story structure is notable for a series of interior courtyards, but the facility is deemed to be costly, inefficient, and unsafe, state officials believe. 

“Tenants have expressed security concerns, including vandalism and graffiti that continue to be issues at the building after business hours,” according to an assessment by the state’s Department of General Services.

The building is near the hemmed-in university campus and is adjacent to the Hammer Theatre, which the school operates jointly with the city.

The university could potentially take over the property, bulldoze the building, and develop a mixed-use project consisting of housing and retail.

“Redeveloping the Alquist building has great potential to enhance the connection between SJSU and the downtown esplanade,” Assemblyman Kalra says. “I am excited to work with Sen. Beall in helping SJSU with the process of redeveloping an underused facility that will bring great value to the university and the city of San Jose.”

The departments of Industrial Relations, Public Health, and Rehabilitation are among the state agencies in the Alquist Building.

“The current building is no longer appropriate for state service providers and those offices could better serve constituents, especially those with special needs, in another location,” Sen. Beall says.

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