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SAN JOSE-The City of San Jose officially broke ground this week on the city’s new $343 million City Hall, despite promises from Mayor Ron Gonzales that the project would not exceed $215 million.

The Richard Meier-designed 555,000-sf City Hall complex, which is located at Fifth and Santa Clara streets, is scheduled to open in 2005. It will include and 18-story tower and a seven-story rotunda. Meier, winner of architecture’s most prestigious award, the Pritzker Prize, is best known for designing Los Angeles’ Getty Center.

“This project will deliver major benefits for the people of San Jose,” says Gonzales.”It will improve public service for our residents and businesses, it will save taxpayer dollars through more efficient operations, and it will strengthen our community’s pride at the heart of our city.”

City leaders have been searching for an alternative to the currently overcrowded City Hall for more than half a decade. San Jose currently leases approximately 300,000-sf of office space at various locations at an annual cost of $12 million.

In 1996, San Jose voters approved an advisory measure, Measure I, which said that a downtown City Hall could be built only if it saves the city money by consolidating city offices and services and does not require additional taxes or taking money from other city programs.

The project’s budget has risen dramatically and consistently since the council first approved the project in 1998. The original budget was $178 million. In 1999, during his first year in office, Gonzales promised that the project would not cost more that $215 million.

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