SAN JOSE — Google has taken ownership of some small downtown San Jose parcels that date back to the era of the Wild West in deals that help the search giant push ahead with its game-changing new transit village.
The properties consist of slices and small chunks of some roadways within the footprint of a new neighborhood that Google has proposed near the Diridon train station and SAP Center that would consist of office buildings, homes, shops, restaurants, entertainment hubs, cultural loops and parks.
Google and the city of San Jose formed a posse to round up the parcels whose initial owners were four of the Bay Area’s original land barons from the days of frontier California.
Plenty is on the line. Google intends to employ up to 25,000 tech workers in its new neighborhood, which is known as Downtown West.
The whole idea behind the process is to enable Google or the city to stake a claim to the land chunks and slivers.
Google and the city are working together to attempt to “quiet” the title to four properties to ensure that the parcel remnants are all transferred by court order and deeds to the tech company and the municipality — and to make it crystal clear that the owners of the sites are either the search giant or the city.
The four land barons — Frederick Billings, Archibald Peachy, Henry Naglee and August Schwall — bought hundreds of acres in and near downtown San Jose sometime around 1865, including the area of Google’s proposed transit village near Diridon Station, according to passages tucked away in legal papers on file with the Santa Clara County Superior Court.
These four men might not exactly be household names, although Civil War union general Henry Naglee is the namesake for San Jose’s historic Naglee Park neighborhood. Gen. Naglee even established an estate in San Jose that was known for its vineyards and gardens.
Even so, their vast holdings in the South Bay of the 19th century have survived into modern-day downtown San Jose as parcel remnants.
Google, in a process that continued for several months back in 2022, had previously tracked down at least 37 people who are believed to be descendants of the four land barons.
The four parcels involved in the potential land disputes are primarily in the roadways and streets near the transit station and SAP Center. Put another way, fans on their way to a Sharks game or commuters trying to catch a train might have easily walked on this land over the decades.
The sites are:
- the South Montgomery Street roadway between East San Fernando Street and Park Avenue, 1.26 acres;
- a slice of Park Avenue extending west from South Montgomery, 0.9 acres;
- a tiny section of South Autumn Street aka Barack Obama Boulevard at the corner of East San Fernando Street near the former Poor House Bistro site, 6,195 square feet;
- a bedroom-sized chunk of Otterson Street in the vicinity of where Schwall family members once lived, 187 square feet.
In the most recent development tied to this century-and-a-half-old saga, four property owners have filed quitclaim deeds. The quitclaims mean Google is now the owner of two of the four parcels involved in the acquisition efforts by the tech titan and the city.
Peter Adams, Greggory Adams, Scott Greggory Adams and Christopher Adams each filed separate quit claim deeds to grant two parcels to Google, documents filed on Feb. 1 with the Santa Clara County Recorder’s Office show.
Google paid $5,000 to each of the four Adams family sellers, the county records show.
The four deals were all-cash transactions, the property files show.
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