Amazon tech unit forms downtown San Jose beachhead
SAN JOSE — Amazon.com, one of the famed brand names in technology, has begun to establish a beachhead in downtown San Jose in a move that bolsters the South Bay city’s urban heart.
Amazon’s Lab126 research and development unit has moved into at least one floor of the office tower at 75 E. Santa Clara Street, according to people with knowledge of the tech giant’s occupancy in downtown San Jose.
“Obviously, Amazon is a global brand, and it means a great deal for the downtown,” said Mark Ritchie, president of San Jose-based Ritchie Commercial Real Estate.
Amazon didn’t respond to several requests for a comment.
Products developed by Lab126 include the Amazon Kindle e-reader, the Fire tablet, the Amazon Fire TV, the Fire Phone and the Amazon Echo, a voice command device.
Lab126 is taking at least the eighth floor in one of two buildings in the Towers @ 2nd office complex near the corner of East Santa Clara Street and North Second Street. The Amazon unit also is eyeing an additional floor in the building, according to people familiar with the situation and a person with direct knowledge of Amazon’s push into downtown San Jose.
Two floors in the building would be enough space for about 140 Amazon employees. The eighth floor is about 14,000 square feet.
A flurry of Amazon-related activity has occurred on the eighth floor of the 75 E. Santa Clara Street building, with rooms throughout the floor identified as Amazon or Lab126 work spaces or meeting places and people wearing shirts with an Amazon logo. The floor commands spectacular views of San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley. Numerous packing crates were visible on the floor during the first week of May.
The Amazon Lab126 facilities are being handled by WeWork.
WeWork is leasing 75,000 square feet in the building at 75 E. Santa Clara Street, according to a blog on the WeWork website. That space covers five floors in the building, including the eighth floor, WeWork said.
WeWork leases spaces in office buildings, then provides some or all of the leased space to companies seeking co-working facilities.
“Amazon’s move into the building validates WeWork’s rationale for coming into downtown San Jose,” Ritchie said. “WeWork ties into the gig economy. Something like this is really important for this part of the downtown.”
Kathryn Collins, a partner with Harvest Properties, referred requests for information about Amazon to WeWork officials.
WeWork said it didn’t want to comment about the Amazon situation at this time.
The disclosures about Amazon come on the heels of a report in late April by this newspaper that multiple property investors are quietly assembling properties near the SAP Center sports arena and the Diridon train station on the west side of downtown San Jose.
A mysterious firm called Rhyolite Enterprises and affiliates of developer Trammell Crow have spent at least $72 million in recent months buying an eclectic group of properties, primarily along South Autumn and South Montgomery streets.
The land assembly, along with a proposed project by veteran developer Trammell Crow and the property for a proposed baseball stadium, could accommodate one or more large campuses suitable for major technology companies such as Google.
“The talk of Amazon and Google coming into the downtown, that bolsters a groundswell of activity,” said Mark Haney, who blogs about downtown at the Think Bigger San Jose website. “You are looking at eventually thousands of new employees who want places to work, live and eat and find entertainment.”