San Jose nonprofit launches free concert series to revitalize St. James Park downtown

If you’re looking for music and food on a Sunday afternoon, St. James Park in San Jose is where you may find it. For the next three weekends, a non-profit organization is sponsoring a free, spring concert series to bring people back to the park. 

In recent years, St. James Park has dealt with issues of crime and people sleeping in the park, but Levitt San Jose says they’re using music to make this park welcoming again for everybody. 

Sunday afternoon just off East St. John Street, dozens of people gathered at St. James Park in San Jose for music, food and a good time.  

"Bring your lawn chair, bring your blanket. We always have a beer garden, we always have a food truck, we always have kids’ activities, and we’ve got amazing music that just makes you feel the pulse of the community," said Laura Wolford, Levitt Pavilion San Jose board member.  

St. James Park has faced challenges with drug and criminal activity in recent years. It also became a place where unhoused people would find shelter. Levitt San Jose, the nonprofit group sponsoring concerts and working to revitalize the park, says it wanted to bring back family fun activity.    

SAN JOSE, CA - SEPTEMBER 28: (L - R) Mike Watt, Iggy Pop, Scott Asheton, and James Williamsonof Iggy and the Stooges perform as part of C2SV Music Festival Day Three at St. James Park on on September 28, 2013 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Tim Mo

"They’re all welcome here. If you look around right? There are definitely unhoused folks here, and I hope they’re enjoying it, and they’re tapping their toes and feeling the joy that everybody else is feeling too. So this park is for everybody," Wolford said.   

With sounds of music pumping through the air and people dancing in the park, one San Jose native says she loves the downtown area and is happy to be able to enjoy St. James Park again. 

"There have been some issues with the homeless, and it’s a problem that we’re dealing with. So, I’m glad that they’re trying to solve the issue and have music out here," said Patricia.

Still, the Saint Claire Historic Preservation Foundation filed a lawsuit to force San Jose to maintain the park's historic designation. That could complicate revitalization efforts. The city won the lawsuit, but the Foundation is appealing. In the meantime, people say they’ll continue to enjoy the free concerts at St. James Park. 

"I think it’s what you make of it right? I think you just come out here and make it yours. Everyone will have their own perspective, but I think it’s a great park," said Shirin Amiri, a San Jose native.   

The free concert series will be at St. James Park on Sundays until June 18 from 3:30 to 7 p.m. KTVU reached out to the Sainte Claire Historic Preservation Foundation for comment and have yet to hear back.