A new vision for San Jose’s Guadalupe River Park

On Jan. 22, Knight Foundation announced a new three-year initiative to catalyze the redevelopment of San Jose’s Guadalupe River Park. See the press release for this announcement here.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people traverse San Jose’s Guadalupe River Park and Gardens as part of their daily commute, to attend events at SAP Center or as they move through the city. On top of that, an estimated 242,000 people either live near or are within walking distance of the riverfront park. But few people have given much thought about the public space or see it as a desirable destination beyond a few marquee attractions.

That may soon change.

Today, Knight Foundation announced a three-year initiative to help launch the park’s transformation into an urban open space that’s more meaningful for residents and becomes a destination for them to gather. This initiative is part of a long-term vision to make the park an iconic public space that’s driven by the community it serves. 

The Guadalupe River Park initiative begins with an initial investment in the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), and will be followed in the coming years by additional support for community organizations and projects serving the area. SPUR, the city of San Jose, and the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy (GRPC), the city’s nonprofit partner for the active use and development of the park, will work together to reimagine the 254-acre site — and transform it into the landmark space our community deserves.

The park has been a work-in-progress for more than 30 years. Today, with the development of the tech campuses and the addition of numerous corporate headquarters to the area, we’re approaching a critical mass of people who live, learn and work nearby — and who need a compelling public space that serves them.

Plans for the park won’t commence without community input. The City of San Jose, GRPC and SPUR are seizing this opportunity to work together to build a great destination, and we couldn’t be more delighted to support this work. They will begin the process by working with members of our community, building a vision for the area and ensuring that the park serves their needs. Together, they’ll engage in community planning, build a governance model for the park and initiate programming that brings people into this beautiful place. Knight’s investment in this initiative is reflective of their enthusiasm, and demonstrates a unique intersection of the right people serving the right place at the right time.

I’m excited to be representing Knight in San Jose and kicking off this investment with our community partners. Soon, they’ll start to lay out their plans to bring information to people who live, work, play and study in our great city. I hope you’ll look for ways to be involved, informed, and help build a vision for this special public space.

Christopher Thompson is San Jose program director at Knight Foundation. You can reach him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @thompson_kf.

Photo (top) courtesy of the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy.