Renovation of San Jose’s Bank of Italy Tower Scheduled to Begin

Walter S. Timmons

A long-awaited renovation will begin at the historic Bank of Italy tower in downtown San Jose within weeks, a revamp that will include a new exterior staircase with garden terraces.

The renovation is being conducted by a real estate alliance of Westbank, a Canada-based developer with a global reach, and Urban Community, a San Jose-based developer headed up by Gary Dillabough and Jeff Arrillaga.

“I’m totally excited to get started on this renovation of the Bank of Italy,” said Dillabough, a principal executive with Urban Community.

The upgrade will be a top-to-bottom, inside-and-outside revamp of the building, which will include a new staircase on the south side of the tower, which is located at 12 S. First St. next to East Santa Clara Street.

The launch of the renovation had been delayed because a considerable amount of remediation work was required inside the building to address legacy asbestos issues.

That remediation work is mostly complete now, but took longer to complete than the developers initially estimated.

“There was more to the remediation than we thought there would be,” Dillabough said. “We are finishing up the remediation work now.”

Dillabough also disclosed updated plans that Westbank, his company’s partner in San Jose, has regarding other downtown projects.

  • Construction is underway on Park Habitat, an environmentally friendly office and retail complex that will total 1.2 million square feet and will enable office employees to work in gardens. Demolition of the old Parkwide Hall began in May.
  • Serpentine Pavilion, a curving pavilion that’s a shape-shifter of an events center, is slated to become the centerpiece of a key block in downtown San Jose’s SoFA district starting in September. The pavilion is located near South First Street and East San Carlos Street.
  • A residential tower on the old Bo Town restaurant site at 409 S. Second St. could be the third major project, after the Bank of Italy and Park Habitat, that Westbank and Urban Community are eyeing in downtown San Jose, according to Dillabough.

The Bank of Italy tower upgrade will feature gathering spaces and open areas on each level of the new exterior stairwell.

The exterior terraces will be accessible from the inside of the Bank of Italy tower, a 14-story highrise in the Renaissance Revival style that was built in 1925.

“The Bank of Italy is a real jewel in down

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