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777 Park

Make sure you tell those important - our city representatives - how you feel before the project starts. There has to be a vote on rezoning so if the rezoning vote fails, then they can't build the project. I already contacted my City representative and the project manager.

Contact information:
Pierluigi Oliverio (6th district councilmember): pierluigi.oliverio at sanjoseca.gov

Jeff Roche (project manager, spearheading the planning process): jeff.roche at sanjoseca.gov

My open letter I sent to representatives:

It has come to my attention the Housing Authority of Santa Clara County is proposing to build a new development on Park and Laurel Grove Lane near Diridon Station and my home at Plant 51. Even though I support providing affordable housing to low income families, I am vehemently against such a development lacking ambition so close to downtown in a prime taxable spot ripe for a high-rise overlooking a potential A's stadium, a new high-speed station and the Organography Climate Clock (video: http://vimeo.com/37764908), San Jose's Eiffel Tower.

Building a new high or mid-rise in the location so close to so many exciting things to come will help low income families by bringing in much more taxes to the City than the current proposal. These additional taxes the City collects from having more people in a high density development should go towards supporting City services we all use, or building low income housing in a different area (not this particular spot near everything).

Choosing the less ambitious route will cost the City more in taxable revenue, hurting the very people it is attempting to support.
Looking at previous permits issued for this site (before the county bought it) looks like it was a high end condo development with retail along the ground floor.

2007 026902 TM 777 PARK AV SAN JOSE 777 Park (PC FOLDER) NEW MULTIFAM/RETAIL Tract/MultiFamily Multi Family New Construction Estimate BUILD NEW 122 UNIT CONDO W/RETAIL IN 8 BUILDINGS OVER PODIUM GARAGE.

I believe it was called Park Ave Lofts. They seemed to have the parking and density part figured out. Plus retail. A neighborhood cafe at the corner of laurel grove and park on the first floor of such a development would do really well.

And yes, I completely agree - using the site for affordable and/or senior housing is not the right way to go. The city will be much better off moving this development to another transit oriented site which is likely cheaper (and ideally senior housing closer to a hospital). The Diridon Station Area as has been mentioned here is much to valuable to be used this way.
 

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For the record, I would like to see retail in the area....but I don't think there would be much interest from potential tenants at the moment.
I think 2013 is quite different from 2008. Plant 51 is completely full, the new avalon morrisson apts will bring more people. The Whole Foods will be complete by the time this is done. The downtown area in general has seen a spike in development and has strong momentum.

As a somewhat recent example one only needs to look at:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/i-java-cafe-san-jose

If this location is viable I dont see any reason why 777 park can't attract customers and be successful.
 

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Did anyone end up going to this meeting tonight?
Yes, it was very amusing :)

Some takeaways

1. The current zoning is for 122 units and retail along the first floor. This proposal wants to build 188 affordable housing units instead (partly senior housing ~80 I think 1 bedroom, and the rest family 1-2-3 bedroom).
2. The entry will not be along Park as it currently stands on the lot, instead it will be off of Laurel Grove according to the proposed plan.
3. Parking provided as part of the development is for around 188 spots including guest parking. Someone did the math and said on avg that would be around 188 spots for ~650 people.
4. Being affordable housing they don't contribute to taxes and hence towards services and upkeep for the surrounding area.
5. The proposed building (design wise) was called a monstrosity by someone. I cannot disagree :)
6. Some folks from Plant 51 surprisingly seemed to be in support of this by suggesting potential improvements inlcuding, believe it or not, engaging in discussions around color scheme!
7. Councilman Olivieri seemed to be in support - looks good on his resume I guess.
8. And finally, the room was packed with lots of voices against (the paint color conscious folks notwithstanding :)). So many that they are going to a follow on meeting. With letters being sent out as for this one.

Some other interesting tidbits
1. Other affordable housing near the area - one on lenzen and stockton already operational, 2 more planned near sunol and san carlos.
2. The site across from this one on Park is said to be a planned site. Not sure for what. That one has a proposal for something 110 ft tall IIRC.
3. If the baseball park doesnt come through the alternative is to have a corporate office complex along autumn st apparently from park till the alameda.
4. I wonder what Sam Liccardo thinks of this proposal, it bordering his district and the grand plans for the Diridon Station Area and all ;)
 

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As for the general sentiment - I would say most of the community was not supportive of this project. However, this seems like an uphill battle and making your voice heard is critical. I would strongly encourage you to come to the next meeting (keep an eye out for the letter in your mail) and talk to your respective community HOAs and members.

Just to clarify this site is not on the south or east side of downtown. It is at the west end of downtown, right next to Diridon and bordering the potential ballpark site.

This is not about slums or NIMBY folks - both of which are extreme terms in my opinion wrt to this project. This site and its unique location can be used to build something much bolder. At the very least some retail along Park with ample underground parking for residents and visitors. The current zoning allows 122 units with first floor retail. Encouraging retail along Park and providing density with ample parking so as to not affect current residents is what a building here should target. Personally I'd be okay with any density as long there is enough parking built into the structure and the access is from Park. And ofcourse the design has to be way better than what it is now.
 

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So I tried to see Pierluigi Oliverio (spoke with his assistant) and Jeff Roche a Sr. Project Manager today regarding the 777 Park Avenue development - the low-income project we've been discussing on here for sometime. I even started to go door-to-door to listen to people and their opinions.

Here is what I am proposing: San Jose needs to wait until we get confirmation from the A's since the new stadium will be built next to the current vacant land to see if we can build something really cool to boost our property values and add to a lively community.

Does anyone know a good strategy to delay the project? Do you support the general idea of the above? Also, Oliverio said he only heard from one person against and one person in favor of the project...
Thats interesting :) Did Jeff Roche give you the same answer?
 

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Here's an e-mail exchange I had with someone at the Housing Authority:

Q: You said your organization was at one point waiting to hear if the A's were going to come to San Jose to go ahead and develop this particular spot. What was the thinking back then in terms of the A's in relation to the parcel? How was it going to effect development?

A: We had thought about more commercial use on the ground floor, i.e. Subway, Pizza My Heart, etc., small food type vendors that would thrive on the foot traffic from a nice long baseball season. The tuff part is we cannot develop commercial space, so we would of had to try and condo"ize" it. I still think a little sushi place and a small bakery/market would do well, but it complicates the deal."

Q: Can the plans be altered during the process to add shops, vendors and as you put it condo"ize" it?

A: Yes, we could and it would make sense too but it would take a joint effort with neighbors and city.

Q: Within the next year and a half, will we be so far along with the process of planning, permitting we cannot turn back?

A: I would say next 6-9 months is more realistic for that type of change. It really isn't that different below the senior site as we would just add more underground parking in place of the ground level parking now and add the retail component to the ground level. I think the further along we are the harder it would be to change folks minds at our agency.

Q: I really want to support the bigger retail version of this with parking under ground. What do you think?

A: As a local guy who has always been involved in development I love the idea of commercial at the site. The problem for us is funding cycles and how the competition ranks for a given project at a given application, there are two per year. I think you should raise the commercial aspect at the meeting as there were only a couple folks that pushed this. I know the director would be more open to this if it was a bigger request, especially if we could get more units, more commercial and more parking.

---

I want the bigger larger retail version with underground parking but it relies, in part, on the A's. My only option is to try and convince the Housing Authority to delay the project till San Jose knows more after Oct. 4 hearing?

Hinging actions (for any party) on the A's decision is a mistake IMO. If the A's dont move then its going to be office space along autumn st. Using the A's an excuse not to have retail on the ground floor is just that - an excuse. Recent increase in density (last 5 years since the previous condo developer sold the land to the Housing Authority) is sufficient to justify retail at this location. Besides this is supposed to be a transit oriented area - not being able to support retail here questions the viability of that assumption. If the previous condo developer could support it in 2008 I see no reason it cannot be supported today. I would imagine the broader vision for Park Ave is more retail along park closer to downtown.

So the question to ask then is: why is the housing authority trying to change the current zoning?

The next question to ask is: what would it take to get the city to approve the zoning change?

As for the current bldg plan that is proposed I have many concerns.

Traffic is a concern shared by many neighbors. The S shaped Laurel Grove is already dangerous around those curves both for pedestrians and cars alike. Changing the entrance to the property from Park to Laurel Grove would make this less pedestrian friendly and more dngerous. This is a non-starter for me.

Parking is also a concern for most. Not providing adequate parking is also a non-starter for me. And by adequate I mean 1 per bedroom and a few more spots for guests and retail.

The design is atrocious. It doesnt even compare to the other housing developments that they showed us. Makes me think this is a - lower expectations by showing the community something really bad so they'll settle for something we *can" build - approach.

And there is no retail.

As for ideas: a) Dont bring up property values. They will simply point you to meaningless studies and use that to divert the discussion. b) Try to get different people at the meeting ask questions so they know the concerns are broadly felt. c) Make sure to get said folks to write to the city. Dont rely on their note taking at the meeting. This will ensure all concerns are accurately captured and seen by the council before the vote. d) Start a facebook campaign or signature drive perhaps? e) Cross your fingers and pray :)
 

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Thanks for the pics. I'm one of those people who looks at architects' projections, all neat and clean, and wonders how this will look like in real, grungy life? ;) I think these pics are a better representation of what to expect, minus the pigeon droppings etc. :lol:
I believe those are pictures of the final product, not projections. I will be really impressed if gelfand can pull off something like this for 777 park.

In other news, it appears a 49er has recently bought a house in the rose garden area.

http://www.mercurynews.com/sal-piza...lues-concert-sunday-downtown-san-jose-support

We need a few more of these. The closer to downtown the better :)
 

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I found some more background info on 777 park. The county bought the land for 5.74 million and was relying on redevelopment funds to build to existing zoning plan of 125 units. Ofcourse redevelopment went away and now they are trying to build something that is financially viable; which explains the current plan.

See the last few pages (60-66) of
http://www.hacsc.org/PDFs/BOCagenda/Board_Packet_20130521.pdf

At their current projection it would cost them 71k per unit!! Anyone know what the current value of this lot is?
 

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The PDF you provided mentions the architects they hired and I was able to find more renderings (don't know if they are the same ones that were presented at the community meeting) on their site:
The only difference from the design presented at the meeting is the colors. Doesn't make it any less hideous in my opinion.

Ampheon, were you able to make any headway working with the HACSC? I remember you mentioned they seemed like they were most responsive.
 

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Tell us how you really feel :lol: The layout and density of the project are actually better than I thought it would be. The exterior aesthetics are an easy fix and can/should be brought up at the community meetings (see: Hampton Inn). The Housing Authority seems receptive to input given the exchange you posted previously.
Why do you like the layout?

I hate it for the following reasons

It moves the entry way from park onto a smaller street. This does 3 things 1. takes away parking spots 2. encourages traffic along the smaller street. 3. And most importantly - discourages walkability.

Its not cohesive. The phase 1 family and phase 2 senior housing are different buildings. And both look ugly. Gelfand has excelled at coming up up 2 different yet equally ugly buildings.

I'd much rather have a single building like Plant 51 in this spot if they are height limited. Atleast it looks modern and provides ample parking. Adding retail would be a nice to have. The current zoning should easily accommodate such a design (125 units with ground floor retail)

Does anyone know whats coming in the lot across this one (on Park)?
 

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-Where did I say I liked it? I said it was better than some were making it out be.

-You're complaining about losing parking yet worry about walkability? The city only requires a 1:1 parking-to-unit ratio.

-How would you rework the entry on Park? The way I see it, you'd probably have to set the building farther back from the sidewalk or have below grade parking (with a garage entry on Park). BTW, the Georgetown townhouses also ignore Park.

-I would also prefer for it to be a single building (at the 188 unit mark they want), but it isn't happening if the HA doesn't have the money or wants to offer two different types of product.

All of these issues should be brought up at the community meetings, constantly complaining about it on here wont make a difference.
Not to worry, I've filed my concerns with the city and they are on record. "Constantly complaining" here serves 2 purposes: 1. I get to vent :) 2. Trying to further the discussion and see if there are other perspectives.

On to your replies

- Yes, I dont want to give up existing street parking for a driveway. And no its not at odds with keeping the streets walkable. The driveway only increases traffic which decreases walkability.

- Yes, I would like underground parking with the entry way remaining on Park.

- Yes, Georgetown ignores Park. But why does that matter? Its more than 10 years old and was built when this area didn't have Cahill or plant 51. Similar to Avalon. Harder to change these things now.

- Didnt know about the 1:1 parking ratio. Thanks, thats useful to know. I'm surprised this wasn't mentioned at the meeting. Is there a pointer to this information you can share?

- I dont think this is about what the HA wants. This is about what we want. At the end of the day, the decision lies with the city and if they choose to ignore the community and go with what the HA wants, all of this is moot anyway.
 

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-I was looking at the Park Ave entrance again and it seems like it would pretty difficult to make it work given the way the streets are set up:

-This was mentioned at the KT Properties meeting when asked about the number of spaces they were providing (1.25 spaces p/unit).
Here is more info on the parking minimums/maximums. (page 20, table 20-211]

http://www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/12657

1.25 per unit if its not tandem, 2 if it is. And 1 bicycle spot per unit (which I think is cool :)).

The entry way on Park was used by the previous occupant - rush roofing I believe. So it should work as before. Moreover it was mentioned there are plans already to change lane widths etc on Park. Not sure what he details are though.
 

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So that would put it at about 10 stories? That wouldn't be a bad height for the area, thinking about the Ohlone Project within a mile and the current mid-rise on Bird and San Carlos.

As for the low income, the best template would be the First Communities building on N 4th by the 101. I think that one is 8 stories, looks modern and is dense for the area and the lot.
Just saw this..For those that missed it, the gallery is here:

http://www.fourthstreetapts.org/property/gallery/

Its built on a .79 acre site. The current 777 park location is 2.07 acres. I completely agree, this is a great template.
 

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metrobus like experience for SJ

Happy Holidays everyone!

Flew through Mexico City last week. Had a long layover so we decided to go into the city to check it out. I was impressed with how easy it was to get from the airport to downtown and back. They have a metrobus line - you buy your ticket at a vending machine (30 pesos or ~$3 each way), buses are very clean, easy to use even if you dont speak the language, about a 30 min ride. These buses have dedicated and preferred lanes on the road (similar to BRT I guess).

We should have something like this for San Jose as well. We dont have nearly the history, size or density that mexico city has but having a shuttle would be a net positive I think. Busineses would see more customers, travelers (business and casual) would get an incentive to visit downtown, would encourage more startups/companies to relocate to downtown SJ etc We could simply add another stop to DASH (downtown area shuttle) to service the airport to start and expand if it catches on.

What do you guys think?
 

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I agree though that this connection already exists, and I think it's quicker than 30 minutes to get to downtown. However there is a transfer at the metro lrt station.
I think the connection makes it complicated enough for an outside visitor to want to use it. Mexico city has a subway too that connects the airport to downtown but via a connection. If it wasnt for the direct bus I probably wouldn't have gone in.

The connection is the same reason I dont use the VTA line + #10 to get to the airport. I prefer to drive and park even if its more expensive because often enough I dont have the time to spend 45 mins when its really a 10min drive from downtown.

I dont the know history of it but not having VTA go through the airport seems very shortsighted.
 
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