Silicon Valley merchants struggle in shadow of dramatically expanding Googleplex

Google's Silicon Valley expansion plans highlight the tension between tech companies and local communities
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor on

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Google has big plans for Silicon Valley communities close to its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Must read: No telecommuting allowed: Why is Google investing billions of dollars in office buildings?

As other companies move out of buildings, Google moves in with its gourmet free lunches and multitudes of free services for its workers -- all that would normally be handled by local small businesses whose customers have not been replaced by Google customers.

George Avalos reports in The San Jose Mercury News that the Sunnyvale City Council this week voted unanimously to launch a study of Google's plans for Moffett Park district, where it is building a monster 1.04 million square foot office expansion for 4,500 staff.

Yet the tech titan's proposals have unsettled merchants like Jimmy Khuc, owner of Dr. Burrito in Sunnyvale's Moffett Park Plaza strip mall, near the corner of East Java and Geneva drives...

"Business is down about 50 to 60 percent," said Khuc. "Google is buying up everything around here. My restaurant has lost a lot of business since Google has been buying buildings."

...Thuan Khuc, owner of iBagels Bakery & Cafe in Moffett Park Plaza, estimated that his business is down 40 percent in recent months..."I don't know if we can survive," Khuc said of his iBagels cafe. "We are working hard, but it's a problem for us."

Read also: Google Sunnyvale plans unleash worries among merchants

These same concerns will be undoubtably be repeated by many more merchants as Google "plans dramatic transformations in northern Mountain View and downtown San Jose."

When merchants complained to Google in 2013, they were offered free classes on how to raise their online visibility on Google search.

The effect of technology companies on their communities is something that cities around the world are looking at -- and how Silicon Valley handles such issues will be hugely influential. So far, nothing from Google except aspirational words:

"In Moffett Park, we see incredible opportunities to create a modern community that inspires and empowers." -- Google's letter to the Sunnyvale City Council.

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