There have been, by Nanci Klein’s estimate, 127 public meetings about a mixed-use development planned for a historic site in San Jose’s Japantown. But until Thursday, none of them involved a shovel.

“We are here because of the toil, commitment and accomplishments of those that came before us,” said Klein, San Jose’s assistant director of economic development. “I want to call out gratitude for the people of Japantown today who have worked over many years and many, many meetings to shape the vision for this project.”