Posted on March 24, 2016By Michael Hopek
Commercial real estate developer and investor Trammell Crow has ambitiously set out to build one of the most transit-oriented mixed-use developments “west of the Mississippi,” according to project Manager Erik Schoennauer. He presented the San Jose project proposal on March 8th to residents asking for feedback and suggestions at a community meeting.
Dallas-based Trammell Crow bought the property from Adobe Systems for $58.5 million in 2015 with zoning approval already in place. The company is now waiting for a city update on the zoning approval and a development permit before construction can begin this summer. It is expected to take three years to complete the nearly one million square feet of office and retail space, along with up to 325 units in a 9-story building.
At the southwest corner of West Santa Clara Street and Delmas Avenue, the site would be in an important part of the city’s transportation center next to Diridon Station. During the meeting, Schoennauer pointed out the geographical significance of the 8.93 gross acre project referring to the sites downtown location near VTA Light Rail, Highway 87 and the future BART extension through the city’s downtown area, which is not expected for passenger use until 2025. The location is also near Altamont and Capitol Corridor Expresses as well as multiple bus lanes.
The residential building will be a 9-story building, while two adjacent 10 and 12 story buildings will be dedicated to office and retail. Each office building features 40,000 square feet of floor plates and rooftop garden areas. Floors two and up will include glass curtain walls making most of the structures’ exterior transparent. Three floors of underground parking will extend beneath Santa Clara Street.
About 2,500 thousand square feet will be used for walkways and bike paths around the building. The project design incorporates pedestrian streams into the layout by providing ample room for workers outside of the building. “It’s part of your generation. It’s all about moving and talking,” said Schoennauer speaking to recently built communal designed workspaces that focus less confined workspaces with the goal of encouraging creativity and collectiveness. The historical water company building next to the pedestrian streams will stay intact, although it will transform into a restaurant.
The project so far has been in line with the economic and environmental standards outlined in San Jose’s Envision San Jose 2040 General Plan. Project Manager for the Department of City Planning, John Tu, said that the project site is in a part of the city that is between a growing downtown area “trying to find its identity” and a rapidly growing Alameda County. He added that San Jose is in the middle of rapid expansion in the downtown area and suggested that transit-connected projects will represent a model of development across the Western United States.
The community response at the meeting was mixed with some worried about environmental concerns, while others were excited about the project’s economic benefits to the city. “I think it’s a world class project connecting Diridon with the greater downtown. The river is way underutilized,” said resident and Executive Director of Public Space Authority Ryan Sebastian. Others expressed their concerns about the project’s effects on the nearby Los Gatos Creek and Guadalupe River ecosystem.
The next step is for the city to consider public comments during an overall evaluation of the proposed rezoning and development permit. The project must follow strict environmental guidelines because of its close proximity to the river and creek, which is still under review via an Environmental Impact Report.