Chic dining spot is eyed to replace KQED downtown San Jose space – Silicon Valley

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SAN JOSE — An urban and chic dining spot envisioned by a top-notch Bay Area chef is slated to replace the empty KQED space in a prominent downtown San Jose office tower.

Parke Ulrich, of the acclaimed Waterbar and Epic Steak restaurants in San Francisco, will be the executive chef of the new restaurant being planned for the ground floor of 50 West, a highrise at a prime spot in San Jose, according to sources that are close to the deal.

Ulrich is also involved in a high-profile restaurant in Redwood City called Hurrica.

The downtown San Jose dining establishment being prepared by Ulrich will offer lunch, happy hour specialty cocktails and dinner in an indoor and outdoor concept, the sources said.

The space became available when KQED, a public media organization, decided to vacate the 4,000 square feet it occupied on the ground floor of the office tower at 50 West San Fernando Street next to South First Street.

The 18-story high-rise totals about 357,000 square feet. Phil Mahoney and Mike Saign, brokers and executives with Newmark, a commercial real estate firm, are marketing the building on behalf of Jay Paul Co., the development company that owns the tower through an affiliate.

KQED decided to exit the 50 West tower as part of a belt-tightening effort to trim expenses at a time of slumping revenue for the organization, which is one of the nation’s largest public media outlets.

The public media organization has also reduced staffing by 8%, or 34 positions, through a combination of layoffs, voluntary departures and eliminating unfilled positions.

Two signs bearing the KQED name are perched atop the office tower, one facing roughly west and the other facing east. The fate of the signs wasn’t immediately known.

Chef Ulrich is teaming up with the Jay Paul firm to bring a San Francisco-caliber restaurant to downtown San Jose, according to the sources.

Jay Paul Co., the sources said, intends to revamp the tower’s lobby as part of the restaurant’s upcoming arrival.

The 50 West high-rise is located in a core area of downtown that includes San Jose’s hip and trendy SoFA district, the San Jose Museum of Art, a plaza that hosts a winter ice rink and the landmark Signia by Hilton San Jose hotel. The tower provides space of varying sizes to multiple tenants.

The 50 West tower also features the Silicon Valley Capital Club, a spot for dining, drinking and socializing on the building’s 17th floor, a space that offers commanding views of downtown San Jose and the South Bay in all directions.

The Chef Ulrich-led restaurant is scheduled to open sometime during the first three months of 2025, according to the sources.

The prospect of a new dining establishment in downtown San Jose by Chef Ulrich comes at a time when the urban core of the Bay Area’s largest city is battling to recover from economic maladies in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Workers have returned to the offices in a halting and uneven fashion, forcing downtown San Jose and other urban cores throughout the Bay Area and nationwide to depend on customers who already live downtown or are seeking dining, drinking, nightlife, live performances, or other venues.

San Jose’s downtown is following a similar path with evidence of some success.

Visits to downtown San Jose have soared over the last year, providing a welcome counterpart to the forbidding economic trends that bedeviled the Bay Area in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Oakland also saw a jump in visitors, while San Francisco continued to stumble and decline.

San Jose’s 28.2% jump in downtown visits ranked 8th best in North America, according to a new School of Cities report produced by the University of Toronto, which analyzed cell phone data to determine visits to 64 downtown districts in the U.S. and Canada.

“We are seeing a real rebound in downtown San Jose, and it’s being driven by what I like to call the experience economy,” San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan said in an interview with this news organization in May.

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