The Gary Dillabough Effect: Transforming downtown San Jose, 20 buildings at a time

SAN JOSE — There’s Google and there’s Gary.

Everyone knows Google, the internet giant that has already spent more than $300 million buying up property on the edge of downtown San Jose to build a colossal campus here.

But Gary? By the end of June, he, too, will have spent about $300 million on properties downtown — scooping up 20 separate parcels in two years — including the historic-but-neglected Bank of Italy building that he has been lighting up to celebrate the Sharks’ run in the National Hockey League playoffs. He and his partners, including real estate investor Jeff Arrillaga, have assembled such a large collection of properties and in such a pattern — essentially running down the spine of San Jose’s downtown core — that he’s considering building a private power plant to serve them.

So who the heck is Gary? And what are his designs on downtown San Jose?

He is Gary Dwight Dillabough, a 56-year-old Baltimore-born former eBay vice president and venture capitalist who is betting his fortune that sleepy San Jose — a notorious underachiever in the world of vibrant metropolitan cities — can truly become what it has called itself for decades: “the capital of Silicon Valley.”

With his company Urban Community, he is promising world-class, eco-friendly architecture, lively public spaces and the integration of culture and art — all rich community experiences that have inspired him from Paris to Palo Alto. Along the way, Dillabough is charming everyone from civic leaders to street artists with his boyish enthusiasm and open arms. But is he for real?

“In my 30 years of being in Silicon Valley, and in civic leadership, someone who’s actually talking about the arts as part of the development, that’s a new phenomenon,” said Connie Martinez, director of SVCreates, a network of local cultural leaders. “All of it almost feels too good to be true, but there’s no reason for us to say he can’t and won’t deliver.”

Developer and realty investor Gary Dillabough, left, conducts a meeting in his office at WeWork in San Jose with Cody Bedell, center, and Eric Horn of Build Group. (Randy Vazquez/Bay Area News Group) Music, murals and pop-up parties

Since late 2017, Dillabough (pronounced Dilla-bō) has welcomed local artists looking for temporary canvases to paint murals on the sides of his old buildings and invited music groups to take over his parking lots for summer pop-up parties. He is sponsoring the San Jose Jazz summer festival and has offered to underwrite free tickets to the city’s Groundwerx clean-up crews. He and Arrillaga joined a homeless advisory board, PATH, and are planning to donate “a penny per square foot” to homeless programs from the Bank of Italy building, for starters, and encourage his future tenants to do the same.

And he’s found an ally in Glen Lenhart, the gregarious owner of Freshly Baked Eatery, a popular sandwich shop on the ground floor of a nine-story office tower on Third Street that Dillabough is renovating. He has promised that Lenhart won’t have to close during construction …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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