Recent commercial, residential and affordable housing projects in Santa Clara County

As Santa Clara County seeks to fight its state mandated housing obligations, cities within the County appear to have gotten to work – despite their appeals. Projects at various stages of development in San Jose, Palo Alto, and Milpitas plan to contribute to local housing stock.

A housing development proposed at 71 Vista Montana in north San Jose would create 509 affordable homes, according to the project’s preliminary planning documents. The 4.2 acre development site, located near many San Jose-based tech companies, would include a public library, childcare center, and “ample public and private open space” in addition to the residential buildings, according to the plans. Charities Housing, a nonprofit based in San Jose, is involved in the project, which would help north San Jose meet its affordable housing goals.

The City of Palo Alto is considering the development of a new housing complex for homeless individuals at the site of a former water treatment plant at 1237 San Antonio Road. If the city council decides to move forward with the project, it would apply for funding from the Project Homekey grant program, which the state Department of Housing and Community Development administers to cities for the purpose of providing shelter for the homeless. The project would be similar to one in Mountain View that opened in May, which allows individuals to stay for roughly 90-120 days while they “get stabilized and begin on the path to more permanent housing,” according to the city’s announcement.

The council has not yet discussed the proposal, but if approved, the city would team up with LifeMoves nonprofit and possibly the Santa Clara County Housing Authority and submit an application for a Project Homekey grant (the next round of funding is expected to become available in September). The city’s next step would then be to make zoning changes necessary for site conversion, and continue to develop cost estimates for the program as well as explore funding options. In addition to the interim housing, the project – modeled after the one in Mountain View – would seek to offer support regarding healthcare, job placement, and related services.

Cupertino, a town which currently provides only one affordable housing unit for every 14 of its low-income jobs, has the Vallco Town Center project on the horizon. Vallco aims to incorporate a significant amount of housing, with a large portion of that dedicated to fulfilling affordable housing needs in the community. The project just received some long awaited permits from the county and is currently under construction.

Another San Jose project in the works – a housing tower at 19 N. Second St. in the downtown area with affordable homes for seniors, commercial space, and preservation of the façade of a historic building – has recently moved forward to the public review stage. The preliminary plan, which featured a 25-story building, has been altered to 22 stories. The first and second floors would be designated for commercial space, perhaps for retailers, restaurants, or offices, and the remaining levels, floors three through 22, would consist of 220 affordable senior homes. A rooftop deck for all tenants has also been proposed. The original building’s façade, constructed in 1925 in a Beaux-Arts style, will remain after development. A community meeting was held at 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 9 to discuss the proposal, the environmental review and planning processes, and gather input from the community on the project.

In Milpitas, an 84-unit BMR apartment complex was unanimously approved last Thursday, August 5. The project has generated controversy in part because of fewer than desired parking spaces, but was exempt from certain development requirements due to its proximity to the Milpitas BART station and the inclusion of affordable housing. More than half (51) of the apartments will be designated to people making 40%-60% of the area’s median income, and the remaining 33 will be for those who earn 80%-120% of the median income.

The San Jose Flea Market is losing the majority of its space to a development of housing and commercial space. The property owners, the Bumb family, are selling it to a developer with plans to construct 3,450 residential units in addition to the 3.4 million square feet of commercial space, according to a representative of the family. Of the current 61-acre site, only five acres will remain reserved for current market vendors, and the majority will be forced to relocate. Despite the prospect of more affordable housing, many members of the community, vendors and supporters, are sad to see the market go after 61 years. The Bumb family is reportedly contributing $500,000 in addition to the city’s $5 million to help see vendors through the transition.