The Endangered 8:
San José's Most Threatened Architectural and Cultural Landmarks of 2022
Former San José City Hall
801 N. First Street
Donald F. Haines
Once hailed as a modern marvel, this iconic symbol of the city's 20th-century suburban expansion was one of the first International Style civic buildings constructed on the West Coast. Vacant since 2005, it is now owned by the County of Santa Clara, which recently proposed to raze the building rather than incur continued modest maintenance costs. Adaptive reuse for housing, offices, or public services is a feasible and environmentally superior alternative to the County’s shortsighted demolition plan, which proposes no immediate redevelopment of the site.
UPDATE NOVEMBER 2022
The County recently issued a Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the project, which concluded that demolition would cost as much as $8 million, while continued maintenance over the next 30 years would only cost less than half that figure. Given that the primary stated goal of the demolition is to reduce County maintenance expenses, PAC*SJ sees absolutely no justification in proceeding with this shortsighted and expensive demolition plan, especially without any clear reuse plan for the site. On June 16th, the Santa Clara County Historical Heritage Commission (HHC) agreed with PAC*SJ and unanimously recommended denial of a demolition permit.
Following that decision, PAC*SJ commissioned our own feasibility analysis by recognized adaptive reuse experts Omgivning Architects, Swinerton Builders, Degenkolb Engineering, and Architectural Resources Group. This study further challenges the County's unsupported cost estimates for rehabilitation and presents an alternative vision for repurposing the building and site.
The full County Board of Supervisors will vote on the demolition plan on November 15. Sign our petition to the County Supervisors to Save Old City Hall!
We are thrilled to announce that the Santa County Board of Supervisors voted on 11/15/2022 to reject the proposed demolition plan and redirected County staff to more thoroughly explore reuse options for the 1958 San Jose City Hall! While there is still much hard work to be done to ensure a new life for this iconic landmark, this watershed vote was an affirmation that adaptive reuse-- not demolition-- should be the preferred path forward.
PAC*SJ and its partners and allies stand ready and eager to help guide the County in this new direction, and we will continue to update you as the planning process and its timeline takes shape. And a special thank you to Supervisor Cindy Chavez for her leadership in removing the demolition plan from the Board's consent agenda, where it would have been approved without discussion, and to her fellow Supervisors for supporting her motion to deny demolition!
"County commission rejects plan to demolish old San Jose City Hall," San Jose Spotlight, 6/23/2022
"Editorial: Use old San Jose City Hall for one-stop homeless services," San Jose Spotlight, 7/1/2022
"San Jose's historic City Hall just dodged the wrecking ball. Will someone save it?" Mercury News, 11/18/2022
Learn More and Take Action!
Learn more about Midcentury Modernism in San Jose
Read the Former City Hall Historic Resources Report
Read the demolition plan's Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
Read PAC*SJ's response letter and view our rebuttal presentation to the County Historical Heritage Commission
Read letters of support for the building's preservation and adaptive reuse
Read PAC*SJ's adaptive reuse and infill development proposal
Contact your Santa Clara County Supervisors today and urge them to oppose the demolition plan, and
Sign our petition to Save Old City Hall!