The San Jose landmark could be relocated to a new downtown location

It could be “Goodbye, Arena Green” and “Hello, Plaza de Cesar Chavez” for the proposed Urban Confluence Silicon Valley landmark in downtown San Jose.

Steve Borkenhagen, executive director of the nonprofit working to create the structure, told a San Jose City Council committee this week that the group had begun investigating Plaza de Cesar Chavez as an alternative location for “Breeze of Innovation.” , the design that won international ideas competition last year. Borkenhagen said the incomplete design could be reconfigured to fit the new location.

The Plaza de Cesar Chavez — home to some popular San Jose events like Christmas in the Park and San Jose Jazz Summer Fest — was where the organization originally intended for the project before an initial site study conducted Arena Green, a section of the , recommended Guadalupe River Park near the SAP Center.

This study “may have underestimated the downsides or challenges of Arena Green, particularly in relation to the river and creek and riparian corridor,” Borkenhagen said during Thursday’s Neighborhood Services and Education Committee meeting. “We’re not giving up on Arena Green, but we’re just taking a break to do this additional study.”

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society have opposed placing the 200-foot-tall project, consisting of 500 dynamic poles that would be illuminated at night, so close to the Guadalupe River and Los Gatos Creek where it might disturb birds and other wildlife and add unnatural light to the waterfront corridor. Borkenhagen said most of the other sites initially considered would have the same issues, with the exceptions of Plaza de Cesar Chavez and St James Park (which already has a transformation underway that would need to be restarted to integrate Breeze of Innovation). )

However, some city council members at the virtual meeting also pushed for the idea that the Plaza de Cesar Chavez was the right place for the project, raising concerns that this would overwhelm the park, limit other activities and reduce the park’s focus on Chavez, the legendary, Labor leader, who lived in San Jose and for whom the park was renamed in 1993. Borkenhagen countered that Urban Confluence had no intention of taking anything away from Chavez, who he called “one of the most important leaders of the civil rights movement in the past 100 years.”

“We think that the combination of ‘Breeze’ and various yet-to-be-designed elements honoring Cesar Chavez could make this park – what we currently consider a mediocre city park – into something really spectacular,” he said.

Urban Confluence plans to return to the committee with an update in September and any change in location would need City Council approval. You can learn more about the project at www.urbanconfluencesiliconvalley.org.

STILL GOING: YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley is bringing its annual walk to raise awareness of sexual assault back to Santana Row on June 23 after the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the event from being held in-person for the past two years. It’s also got a new name, “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes,” which the YWCA says demonstrates its commitment to everyone across the gender spectrum.

The walk starts at 5:30pm and if you’ve seen it before you know it’s a light-hearted approach to a serious issue, with teams of men, supportive women and non-binary participants browsing through the shopping opportunities in the Outdoors in San Jose run center in high heels. One change from previous years is that the YWCA does not provide high heels for walkers, so bring your own heels—or whatever you like. You can still avoid the crowds in the row and do the walk at your own places.

Either way, you can start a fundraising team or register as an individual for $68 — based on a sexual assault that happens every 68 seconds — at bit.ly/WALKINTHEIRSHOES22.

DANCING THE WEEK AWAY: One of the works that will have its world premiere at sjDANCEco’s Encores and Celebration on June 17-18 is The Mitten, based on a Ukrainian folk recording set to music by San Jose composer Mona Reese. The program at the Hammer Theater Center, presented in association with the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, includes new works by Fred Mathews, Maria Basile, Hsiang Hsiu Lin and Gary Masters. Both performances start at 8pm, tickets are available at www.sjdanceco.org.

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