Knight Foundation announces initiative to catalyze redevelopment of Guadalupe River Park and Gardens in San Jose

New initiative will advance park as a regional hub for residents and visitors

Contact: Roshni Neslage, Communications Officer, Knight Foundation, 305.908.2623, [email protected]

SAN JOSE, CALIF. — January 22, 2020 — The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced a new three-year initiative to support the redevelopment of the Guadalupe River Park and Gardens, advancing the 254-acre site as a defining and iconic space for all San Jose residents.

Rapid commercial and residential growth in the city’s urban core has created a unique moment to realize a decades-long dream of Guadalupe River Park as a true central park for San Jose. Located in the heart of the city and under the management of the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy (GRPC), the riverfront park currently features several notable spaces such as the Rotary PlayGarden and the Heritage Rose Garden. However, it lacks a comprehensive vision and plan to become a defining public space for the community to gather.

Knight Foundation’s investments, which will kick off with a $600,000 award to the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), will focus on shaping the long-term success of the park by supporting organizations leading planning, governance and programming for the site. Support for SPUR and other partners will seek to ensure community input drives the vision for the park and support new ways to program the space.

“The Guadalupe River Park is at a critical location in our community, serving as the spine that connects downtown San Jose’s commercial and residential life. This opportunity arose at a critical time as Diridon Station progresses, corporate campuses arrive in the city, and our urban core grows and thrives,” said Christopher Thompson, Knight Foundation program director for San Jose. “It’s the right time to bring the right people — exemplary community groups and leaders — together for this effort.”

“San Jose deserves an iconic public space for everyone, and everyone in San Jose deserves a place made for them,” said Sam Gill, Knight Foundation chief program officer and senior vice president. “Guadalupe River Park can be that place.”

SPUR will use Knight’s initial investment to begin research and analysis of the park space between highways 280 and 880, examining the area’s economic impact, ecological effects and issues around equity. SPUR will work with the City of San José and GRPC to advance a new level of collaboration between local organizations and community members. Knight’s investment in SPUR will also facilitate the addition of a policy director for placemaking and public life.

“SPUR could not be more excited to partner with GRPC on this project. We’re thrilled to help create a great public space for the city,” said Michelle Huttenhoff, who will step into the new director for placemaking and public life role at SPUR.

The Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, in collaboration with the City of San José’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services, is the nonprofit partner to provide community leadership for the active use and improvement of the park. The Conservancy plans on enhancing and promoting the park as a civic greenway, establishing it as the premier urban riverfront of the Bay Area. The Conservancy will lead the redevelopment and stewardship of the park, with the aim of building a vision, programming and governance model for the site.

“We are grateful for the continued partnership of Knight Foundation, SPUR, and the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy to create an inspiring urban park that evokes the pride of our residents, and provides the venue for lasting memories for our visitors,” said San José Mayor Sam Liccardo.

With more than one million residents, San Jose is one of the most diverse large cities in the United States, is Northern California’s largest city and is the 10th largest city in the nation. This grant will inaugurate continuing investment by Knight in the park and its redevelopment over the coming years. Since 2008, Knight has invested more than $28 million to build a more engaged San Jose, with a focus on public life. It has also made significant investments to benefit the community in the arts, journalism and on a national scale.

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About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit kf.org.


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