the Changing Face of Fairmont Hotel

Even as San Jose stays sheltered and quite everywhere you look construction is taking place – in door and out. Remember those torn cloth seats and lackluster decor of the lounge at the Fairmont? Well – no more. Shazzam – what once was shabby is now chic and sophisticated. The transformation continues but check out the latest installment of photos.

San Jose’s Changing Face – SJSU Graduate Tower Picstory

Everywhere you turn new buildings are springing up and still others are in announcement stage – fenced off with a white poster describing what’s to come. Over the last two years, the now nearly complete San Jose State University Graduate Tower replaced what used to be a McDonald’s – and a rather seedy looking one at that. Here’s a photo-history of its construction.

Breaking Ground for SJSU Grad Tower

SJSU Grad Tower – First Few Floors

Grad Tower Floors 5-7

Grad Tower Construction – Half way there

Grad Tower – All Floor Complete

Grad Tower – Cute Bears in Trees

San Jose Diary | Feb 23 2020

SanJose Diary – Star date: 022320201718

This city is getting ready to change forever. And the pace of change is speeding up big time.

Cranes. Everywhere are cranes. Cranes on 4th and Santa Clara, cranes near Wholefoods, cranes hanging over Hwy 87 on San Fernando where Adobe builds a headquarters anew and cranes down Market Street enroute to Target as condominiums continue to spread.

This city is changing and it’s changing fast. The cranes on San Carlos between 2nd and 3rd are now almost gone as the new Student Grad Housing Center nears completion. It looks like the street level will house some retail stores. I hope so. Yet another cranes pops up just a few blocks down at the main entrance of SJSU where the new science building is already fully framed – taking up some hillside skyline on the southeast side if you have an opportunity to look out that way from an elevated vantage point like MLK library’s upper floors.

Only another few blocks away across Cesar Chavez – down Park a block or so west from the Tech Museum, yet another pair of cranes do the ‘praying mantis’ dance at the corner of Park & Almaden. It’s nice to see a duo of cranes groove to the sound of steel rising and cement pouring and trucks backing up. The homeless under the 87 bridge won’t be able to stay there long. What was a town of tents and sleeping bags is just a gaggle of hanging-oners. I have mixed feelings about it. And if you walk from the Diridon train station to the river and cut south you can see the remnants of what some city-planner supposedly had in mind decades ago before some economic calamity hit the city – they say it was in the 60s when the whole white flight thing took place (note to self – read up on that) – there’s an idea of a nice promenade along the banks of the river with open areas for snacking or conversing, a bike path and natural rock laden amphitheater like areas. You could see it winding its way from beyond Discovery Museum, thru downtown, paralleling Market Street and snaking its way towards the new Target Center. It’s broken up in so many places it’s unfriendly to bike riding as the path just disappears in choice locations as does the walking path, but the idea is clear and seems poised to re-root. For now though, it’s strewn with a few tents here and there, scattered belonging, trash, trampled vegetation, an absconded Lyft bike and various pieces of junk. Nobody but the fatest bike riders and Adobe staff after work under guard of police chaperones dares walk thru there.

And the cranes are expected to continue populating the skyline. Everywhere there’s a fence it’s accompanied with a large rectangular white with black print public notice publicizing a redevelopment project – a shiny sleek new office building here, promenade and condos there, apartment building and more shops somewhere else. And an URL is listed to get more info.

I’m flying out today and couldn’t help but feel the promise while driving up Coleman and looking back (I was in the passenger seat) at the longer sleeker San Jose Skyline – what a gorgeous view! It didn’t look so much so a Podunk town anymore like it did when I arrived over 2 decades ago. And in front sat the Avaya soccer stadium – also fairly new – and the shops where the Smoking Pig anchors more shopping. Smoking Pig is one of the best BBQ places in town hands down. I used to rank it second to Little Mae’s (I think that’s what it was called) shack a little further down. Sadly, it closed recently. It was a high-tech worker alter to great simple BBQ in an unassuming – well – shack during lunch hour.

Newness can be seen at the airport as well. There’s a new set of Southwest gates – numbered in the 30s – that extend to your left where there was once just a wall coming out of security. The original airport – a small shelter that shouted to passengers that had arrived in this small po-dunk town that it was required passengers walk across the tarmac to get to the luggage area. I think there were gates for maybe 20 planes back then. It wasn’t called Mineta International back then either – I’m thinking circa 1994. Now the low-fuss walkway for the 30s gates seems to reach back in that direction but not completely reaching it yet.

There’s not much to shop at on the walkway – you have the Hudson News and a couple little stops. Flames greets you as you enter the walkway.

Halfway down as I approached gate 33, I did see something very techy and very Silicon Valley – although I’ve seen similar things in Austin and read about them in other airports and as standalone shops in San Francisco. There was a robot glass-encased barista – kind of like a small version of the robotic arms you see building cars in a factory in some car commercial. You type your order on a keypad, swipe your card and Shazam! it gets to work, pulling a plastic tumbler from a stack, twirling it like it was Tom Cruise behind the bar, filling it with coffee or beer and serving it behind a glass door that reminds you of food being served in the mess hall of the Starship Enterprise as it slides up for the patron to reach in. It was neat. I took pictures. Up in the city, similar establishments do the same serving up salads and sandwiches and even burger I think. Dorothy – we ain’t in Kansas anymore.

Kirk out.

Tabard Theatre Great Holiday Show

It’s a small unknown little theater company but it has some really good shows and every Christmas they host a show that’s reminiscent of the Lawrence Welk show but with holiday entertainment. It’s fabulous.

Whether you’re a local or just visiting San Jose, it’s worth a visit and it’s kinda an unknown gem.

Happy Holidays!