San Jose: Neighbors fear Google 'mega campus' will oust 20-year community garden

- Neighbors are fighting to save a community garden in downtown San Jose. The property owner said the land is worth millions. Middlebrook Gardens has been on Race Street for nearly 20 years. It's situated a few blocks away from the proposed Google 'mega campus.'

Not your run of the mill garden, Middlebrook Gardens is rich with vegetables, native plants and aquaponics, a combination of aquamarine life and hydroponic growing. It’s a teaching lab to promote ecological education.

“You don't see anything like this in San Jose or really in Santa Clara County,” said Neighbor Ryan Leary. 

It’s a labor of love for Ecological Designer Alrie Middlebrook, who leased the property back in 2000 transforming the once barren parking lot into what many view as a secret oasis. 

“It’s so peaceful and it's calm,” said Six-Year-Old Nicole Konjuh. 

The communal gardens are now at risk of being bulldozed. The owner intends to demolish the 17,000 square foot site for retail stores.

“As a native to San Jose, I understand gentrification,” said Volunteer Christina O’Connor. “We have all seen it in the Bay Area, what are we losing when we let go of what's important. I just don't think this neighborhood needs another Panera.”

The land owner Fred Soltanzad tells KTVU, as a property owner, he has the right to build what he wants as an investment for his children. He said, he's willing to sell the land for $4 million. 

Middlebrook believes it's that price since the proposed google village is 2,000 feet away.

“That’s had a huge impact on my rent, my rent has doubled in the last year,” said Middlebrook. “The property values here are all going high.”

Middlebrook is now hoping Google or another tech giant will step up to help and donate the land for environmental education.

“San Jose wants to be the greenest city in California,” said Middlebrook. “If San Jose wants to be a green city, part of it is really educating our youth.”

A community rally is set for Sunday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. ahead of a city planning meeting next week. The property owner said me he's in the process of getting a city permit and hopes to break ground in a year.
 

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