SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- San Jose city and business officials gathered Friday at Mineta San Jose International Airport for a ceremonial groundbreaking of a planned $82 million air terminal to be used mostly to house corporate planes owned by the founders of Google Inc.
Among those donning construction helmets and turning symbolic dirt inside a 1960s-era terminal at the airport were San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, City Councilman Sam Liccardo San Jose city aviation director Kim Becker Aguirre and Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Mahood.
The ceremony celebrated the start of construction on the Signature San Jose, a terminal to be operated by the firm Signature Flight Support on a 29-acre former parking lot on the northwestern part of San Jose airport, Signature president and chief operating officer Maria Sastre said.
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The 240,000-square-foot terminal, set for completion in December 2015, will have seven hangars with five used to base nine aircraft operated by Blue City Holdings, the private aviation arm of Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Sastre said.
The facility, for business and general aviation, will also have a passenger terminal, create 300 construction jobs and about 60 permanent employee positions and generate $3 million a year in tax money for San Jose, according to company officials.
Sastre said the terminal would be the first built in the South Bay by Signature, which has 118 fixed-based terminals for private and business jet aircraft in the world, the nearest one in San Francisco.
Ken Ambrose, president of Blue City Holdings San Jose, LLC, said that Google flies corporate jets to Signature terminals such as San Francisco's but the planned San Jose location will be closer to Google's Mountain View headquarters.
"Our private airplanes have used Signature facilities worldwide for many years, so having them operating a high-quality base like this at home plate for us is tremendous," Ambrose said.
"We've been good customers for a long time and now we are joined by the hip with anchor tenant status, so we are very excited about it," Ambrose.
"Our founders obviously work at this search engine company up the road here, so this is our center of gravity," he said. "The Bay Area is still the biggest conglomeration of engineers and other Googlers that the founders work with on a daily basis, so it makes a lot of sense."
While business executives from other parts of the world such as Asia have been able to fly into San Jose airport for some time, "there's been very limited ramp and hangar space for private aircraft up until now," Ambrose said. "This changes all of that."
Sastre said that Signature expects the new facility to be a popular entry and exit point for executives in Silicon Valley, Sastre said.
"We believe the market is going to respond very, very well," Sastre said. "So, we're very bullish on it."
Blue City Holdings will lease the hangars for a Boeing 767 airline and other aircraft such as smaller Global Jet models, all capable of long-range flights to destinations such as Asia, according to Sastre.
She said that Google is contributing part of the $82 million needed to build the terminal, but she declined to reveal how much.
Also attending the ceremony were San Jose Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, City Council members Ash Kalra, Rose Herrera, Xavier Campos, Donald Rocha and Johnny Khamis and Silicon Valley Leadership Group president and chief executive Carl Guardino.
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