SAN JOSE - Adobe Systems, poised to dramatically broaden its headquarters complex in downtown San Jose, said Thursday it will buy a property near its main offices where it could employ 3,000 more workers.
"It's an exciting time for Adobe and we continue to thrive and grow as a company," Jonathan Francom, Adobe's vice president of employee and workplace solutions, told this news organization in an interview Thursday. "The headquarters building we have in downtown San Jose continues to be a thriving part of our population. We are doubling down on San Jose with this."
Adobe currently employs 2,500 workers in downtown San Jose who occupy three office towers. Adobe intends to buy parcels that would accommodate a fourth high rise where 3,000 would work, an expansion that would more than double the company's present San Jose work force and bring the new total to 5,500.
The tech giant is in contract to buy a property at 333 W. San Fernando St. in San Jose, between State Route 87 and South Almaden Boulevard. A few hundred yards south at 345 Park Ave. is the 900,000-square-foot Adobe headquarters complex.
"Adobe is growing," the company stated in a blog post. "Over the past two years, our global employee base has grown by more than 30 percent. This growth includes our successful transformation to a cloud-based business." As of June 20, Adobe employed 17,322.
The 2.5-acre L-shaped property that Adobe intends to buy includes surface parking lots and a small, unoccupied commercial building that totals roughly 25,000 square feet.
The deal represents a huge win for downtown San Jose.
"We're thrilled to see many months of work with Adobe and its partners culminate in this announcement of Adobe's bold expansion of their global headquarters in San Jose, further enhancing downtown's burgeoning momentum as Silicon Valley's urban center," Mayor Sam Liccardo said Thursday. Adobe said it plans to complete the property purchase in January 2018 after completing discussions with the city and further assessment of the site.
Until now, San Jose has been a relatively sluggish urban center that appears poised for a major revival. Downtown San Jose has about 39,000 jobs, compared to 83,000 jobs in downtown Oakland and 317,000 jobs in downtown San Francisco, according to a report cited by SPUR.
"This is great momentum for downtown San Jose," said Mark Ritchie, president of San Jose-based Ritchie Commercial, a realty brokerage. "Adobe's commitment is huge for the city."
For many years, Adobe has been, by far, the biggest tech company headquartered downtown San Jose. More tech firms are moving to downtown, but they occupy much less square footage than Adobe, or their headquarters are in another city. Redwood City-based Oracle and Seattle-based Amazon's Lab 126 have offices in downtown San Jose. Cisco Systems and eBay are based in San Jose, but not downtown.
"Adobe has been a great, long-term bet for the downtown," Ritchie said. "It's only in recent years or months that they have outgrown their original office towers."
San Jose leaders also are excited about the potential entry of an even bigger tech giant. Mountain View-based Google is eyeing development of a massive, transit-oriented project in downtown San Jose. The complex, which some have dubbed Google Village, would create 6 million to 8 million square feet of offices near Diridon Station. Since word emerged about Google's areas of interest, investments and development plans have sprouted downtown.
"It's wonderful to see multiple major tech companies that are bullish on downtown San Jose," said Chad Leiker, a first vice president with Kidder Mathews, a commercial realty brokerage.
The Google Village, along with numerous other ventures, would likely usher in a downtown with a distinctly urban feel, a central city connected to the rest of the Bay Area and even other parts of the state through a diverse array of transit lines.
"Adobe was the first major technology company to invest in downtown San Jose real estate, more than 20 years ago, building urban high-rise towers on Park Avenue rather than a typical sprawling tech campus," Adobe stated in the blog post. Adobe also is expanding existing Emeryville and San Francisco offices.
The existing Adobe towers are connected to each other, and the company will craft a way to connect the existing headquarters with the expansion site, perhaps with a footbridge.
"We want people interacting face to face and the headquarters towers are enhancing our ability to do that," Francom said. "We would absolutely look at ways to facilitate travel between the two sites."
Adobe, whose products include cloud-based multimedia and publishing software, also seeks to speed transit-based travel between its principal Bay Area hubs. In addition to the San Jose headquarters a short stroll from Diridon transit station, it also owns the historic Baker and Hamilton Building on Townsend Street near north terminus of the Caltrain line in San Francisco.
"We have bookends on the Peninsula rail corridor," Francom said. "We have tried to encourage ridership on public transit for all of our employees. We provide free transit vouchers."
The deal also is a big feather in the cap for some major realty players downtown, John DiNapoli, Phil DiNapoli and Lew Wolff, whose partnerships bought the properties a few years ago.
"Since the days when other investors turned their backs on downtown San Jose decades ago, Lew Wolff and the DiNapoli family - first Phil, and now his son John - have demonstrated a vision that keenly recognized downtown's promise," Mayor Liccardo said.