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this was an article from last yr on sj biz journal.....sorry if its been posted in the frisco thread, but since we got our own thread here we go...


Hotel to be site of condo tower
At 30 stories, it would be city's tallest
Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal - July 29, 2005by Brad Berton and Andrew F. Hamm

The owner of one of Silicon Valley's largest and most-recognized properties -- the resort-style Hyatt San Jose near the Mineta San Jose International Airport -- is in talks to transform his 16.5-acre holding into a mixed use residential complex that would blend a hotel with as many as six high-rise condominium towers.

At least one of the envisioned towers would soar toward the full permitted height of 305 feet, making the 30-story towers the tallest buildings in San Jose.

Manoucher "Manou" Mobedshahi, who has owned the lushly landscaped Hyatt at North First Street and Old Bayshore Highway since 1997, says no agreement has yet been struck, but brokers working on the deal confirm exclusive negotiations are underway with a buyer.

"We would be handling the hotel business; we don't know about the condo business. That would be handled by someone else," Mr. Mobedshahi says.

Jim Schmidt, vice president at Cornish & Carey Commercial in Santa Clara, declined to identify the front-running bidder but says most of the numerous interested parties, including one now working with Mr. Mobedshahi, evaluated the property on the basis of redeveloping at least a portion of the property for residential use.

"If they can do that, there's no question the financial value is significantly greater than maintaining the property as a hotel," say Tom Callahan, CEO of hotel advisory firm PKF Consulting's West region in San Francisco.

Mr. Schmidt and C&C senior sales associate Mark Russell have been overseeing the property's marketing efforts on behalf of the ownership group known as Manco Partners, which is headed by Mr. Mobedshahi. While Mr. Schmidt won't reveal the top bid, he said Mr. Mobedshahi's original asking price was $100 million.

Mr. Mobedshahi would neither confierm nor deny that price, but says no deal is imminent. He says it would take at least three years to get the necessary permits together once a deal is struck to begin construction.

"It's all market-driven," Mr. Mobedshahi says.

In 2001, Manco Partners submitted plans to the city of San Jose to build an 30-story office complex on an empty four-acre section of the Hyatt property. That plan fell apart when Silicon Valley office vacancy numbers went from 2.5 percent to 16 percent today, according to figures from CB Richard Ellis. Other surveys have put that number at over 20 percent.


_____the rest of the article can be found on the biz journal.
 

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$1 billion vision for San Jose
Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal - February 17, 2006by Andrew F. Hamm and Timothy Roberts

A fledging group of cultural enthusiasts is lining up support for a $1 billion-plus plan to transform downtown San Jose into Silicon Valley's sports, entertainment and cultural mecca.

The "Creative Urban Center" plan being put together by 1stAct Silicon Valley is backed by leaders of most cultural arts entities in the city. The plan -- which presumably would rely on a bond issue and require a public vote at some unspecified date -- is designed to have a little bit of something for everybody, including new baseball and soccer stadiums, a new concert hall and art museum as well as a bevy of renovated theaters for every taste.




With San Jose being the (nation's) 10th-largest city, there is no reason why we shouldn't be a ... destination," says Connie Martinez, executive director of the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose and co-chair of a 1stAct subcommittee putting the finishing touches on the plan.

The proposal, scheduled to be presented to the public by June, is being put together with financial backing from Adobe Systems, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, among others.

Among the projects in the planning stages are:

An expansion of The Tech Museum with a veritable theme park of interactive simulations and games on the site now occupied by Parkside Hall.
Construction of separate state-of-the-art stadiums for professional baseball and soccer and a renovation of Spartan Stadium.
An upgrade of the San Jose McEnery Convention Center that would make the area now covered by a temporary tent into permanent exhibit space.
Construction of a new music center and a $35 million upgrade of existing downtown theater venues.
Relocation of the San Jose Museum of Art to the old Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library site on San Carlos Avenue.
The subcommittee hopes to have a first draft computer-imagined PowerPoint presentation put together by April that will show what San Jose would look like with its makeover complete. Projects will be added and/or dropped and the presentation fine-tuned with an eye toward a public unveiling in June.

"It will look very good. The question is how do we (finance) it," says Dan Keegan, executive director of the San Jose Museum of Art, who is working with Ms. Martinez on finishing the proposal. "Right now, money isn't the emphasis. It's really about the vision."

The idea of making downtown San Jose a "destination center" is not a new one. The San Jose Redevelopment Agency's push to get more restaurants and clubs downtown, the introduction of the San Jose Grand Prix, the Jazz Festival and Cinequest and the push to build high-rise condominium towers have all fed into the idea of developing a "critical mass" of people to turn downtown San Jose into a thriving entity.

However, despite some successes, downtown San Jose has had its share of failed visions.

Most prominent is the $1 billion Palladium Co. downtown renewal project, which envisioned retail, housing, hotel and office development. It never got off the drawing board partly because of unrealistic expectations and a changing economic landscape. The proposed BART extension into San Jose faces an uncertain future due to funding woes while the San Jose McEnery Convention Center tried and failed to get funding for an $320 million permanent expansion project
 

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Okay, here are some things that may inspire further postings :)

<br>

 

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Residential vs. industrial
CITY PLANNING STAFF RECOMMENDS AGAINST PROJECTS THEY SAY WILL ADD HOUSING AT EXPENSE OF BUSINESS
By Deborah Lohse
Mercury News

In what could become an important test of San Jose's commitment to preserve land for industry, city staff planners are recommending against a proposal to build up to 1,150 housing units on 23 acres surrounding the Goodwill Industries warehouse near Japantown.

The planners fear that if housing is permitted there, pressure will mount to allow nearly 100 additional acres of land stretching from the Seventh Street Goodwill site to Highway 101 also to become residential. Together, that 123 acres would represent about 12 percent of the land the city has set aside for ``light industry.''

``It sets the dominoes in motion,'' said acting planning director Joe Horwedel.

Horwedel asserts that the city can't afford to lose land for industries that support other businesses, such as auto shops for taxi companies, drilling services for construction businesses, or glass or plastic suppliers, which now populate the area around Commercial Street between Fifth and 10th streets.

``These kinds of jobs are critical to the long-term economic health of the city,'' said Horwedel.

Tuesday, the city council officially accepted a memo describing the planning department's effort to recommend an early denial to the Goodwill site project. The memo also recommended early denial to another proposed project that would turn 30 acres along Old Oakland Road between Brokaw Road and Schallenberger Road into housing.

Today, the city's planning commission will consider those recommendations. Then, on June 13, the city council is scheduled to vote on whether to grant the denials or ask the planning department to continue analyzing the two projects for formal consideration perhaps later this year.

Rare move

The planning department has rarely recommended such early denials, said Horwedel, but now wants to apply this shortcut to avoid spending too much time on proposals that seem to clearly run afoul of city policies, he said. However, if the city council orders the staff to continue evaluating such proposals, they will do so.

A number of city council policy edicts in recent years have called upon city leaders to preserve industrial land because it brings in the jobs and sales taxes needed to help pay for city services.

But San Jose has not been able to stand firm against such conversions in recent years, planners and observers agree, partly because it doesn't have an up-to-date general plan for the city. The document is something politicians, developers, neighborhoods and others hammer out to reach agreement on the overarching planning policy of the city. State law stipulates it should be updated every 10 years.

Instead, the council for years has been granting piecemeal exceptions to the now 14-year-old general plan, slowly chipping away at land that years ago was set aside for light industry, heavy industrial use or office parks.

Campaign effect

This year's mayoral campaign could be complicating matters, too. Some longtime development experts note that candidates -- who often get the majority of their contributions from developers -- are usually loath to turn down big projects during campaign season. William Lyon Homes, which hopes to build homes at the Goodwill site, has donated $500 each to candidates Cindy Chavez and Dave Cortese. Kevin Ebrahimi of Lyon did not return a call for comment on the project.

Chavez, whose district includes the Goodwill site, said she hasn't decided anything on Goodwill. But she's concerned about whether the project is being denied before neighborhood residents or surrounding businesses have had a chance to weigh in. She said she wants to ensure that any project there fits in with other goals for the area, such as adding more retail stores.

Mark Lazzarini, managing principal with DAL Properties, which is working with Lyon Homes on the Goodwill project, said he believes that a workable compromise can be reached with city planners that includes housing.

Still, some residents in nearby Japantown intend to speak out against adding more high-density housing at the Goodwill site, saying their area is becoming saturated with cookie-cutter townhomes and rental units.

``People are really getting tired of continued development that's all the same,'' said William Lambson, chairman of the Japantown Neighborhood Association. He said traffic, crime and parking have all worsened alarmingly since new housing has come in.

Incompatible plan

Separately, planning officials are not recommending the Oakland Road project because they say that site -- stretching from the southwest corner of Brokaw and Old Oakland roads to an area across the street from San Jose Municipal Golf Course -- is ideal for a ``big box'' retailer such as Costco or Home Depot. But the proposed project for 600 housing units and 50,000 square feet of retail space is ``not consistent'' with San Jose's goal to ``improve its jobs/housing balance,'' said the planning department.

Developers of that project, including the Riding Group and Morley Brothers, believe it complies with the city's current goals for that area, and they have sent each council and planning-commission member lengthy packets making their case.

Principals and spouses affiliated with the Riding Group and the Morley Brothers have given money to candidates Chavez, Cortese and Chuck Reed.
 

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does anybody know whats going on with north san jose??? last i heard, the county and city had settled their differences. when can we expect some action there?
 

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Glad to see they aren't recommending housing near Japantown anymore. When will the learn it needs to be near public transportation, and housing above ground-floor retail?! I just wish City Hall made the approval process for good projects simple and quick. Errrr.
 

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So it's not San Jose, but anyone got some news and pictures on the 101-85 interchange. (Hey, it's still in Santa Clara county) I believe it's almost finished now.
 

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Art museum, convention center may team up

S.J. FACILITIES EXPLORE SHARING OLD LIBRARY SITE
By John Woolfolk
Mercury News

San Jose's art museum, housed in a former 19th-century post office, wants more room. So does the city's convention center -- so badly that it put a tent over a parking lot to create more space.

Now officials who run those institutions are exploring a joint solution they say would be a first: Replace the city's former main library with a building nearly four times the size, and have it serve as a new, expanded art museum and an extension of the adjacent San Jose McEnery Convention Center.

``If you can imagine the idea of walking through a newly expanded Museum of Art, and that was the entrance into the convention center -- we just think it could be a very exciting prospect,'' said Dan Fenton, president of the San Jose Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The plan would expand the art museum space, triple the convention center's ballroom space and create a unique gathering spot that would give San Jose an edge in the hot competition for convention business.

``A convention center that's an art museum is going to be a draw, as opposed to plain-vanilla space,'' said Paul Krutko, San Jose's economic development director. ``This is an example of the kind of creativity you get in Silicon Valley, just like we were the first in the country to do a joint library with a university.''

Tripling the museum's size also would allow it to showcase ``blockbuster'' exhibits like the avant-garde paintings of Marc Chagall recently displayed in San Francisco, said Executive Director Dan Keegan.

The concept involves constructing a 320,000-square-foot building that would cover both the former library site and the plaza in front of the convention center, between the Marriott and Hilton hotels along Santa Clara Street. The museum would get 225,000 square feet of space and the convention center 95,000 square feet, of which 50,000 square feet would be shared between the two.

A decision on whether to pursue the project isn't expected until late fall, after museum and convention bureau officials figure out how much it would cost, whether they could raise enough money through donations and a hotel tax, and how joint operation would work.

But it could prove vital to San Jose's economy. Convention visitors are the city's biggest source of hotel business, spending about $200 million a year locally, according to a 2005 San Jose State University study. But the convention center is struggling amid intense competition from other cities.

``It's critically important,'' said Kim Walesh, San Jose's assistant director of economic development. ``San Jose and the South Bay aren't major destinations for tourists, so the convention center here is even more important to our economy because we rely more on business travel.''

The stage for the expansion proposal was set in 2003, when the city and San Jose State University christened their new, jointly run Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library at Fourth and San Fernando streets.

In early 2004, museum officials approached the city about using the five-story, 85,000-square-foot former main library as an expansion site for a proposed International Center for Art and Technology they hoped to open this summer. The new center would have featured electronic ``new media'' art and use technology to present more traditional art forms.

But after researching that idea, they concluded the result would still fall short. Museum officials say they need about 250,000 square feet to become a world-class destination like the 225,000-square-foot San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which opened 11 years ago.

Taking over the old King library would give the museum a combined total of just 163,000 square feet, and it would mean operating on two sites, inconveniently divided between the old library and the museum's current location at Market and San Fernando. The museum still would suffer from what Krutko called ``mid-size-itis,'' and eventually require a bigger site.

So earlier this year, museum and convention bureau officials began talking about teaming up. If the idea goes forward, the museum would leave its current location and the city would find a new tenant for the historic post office building that was built in 1892, though fundraising for its restoration would continue.

The convention bureau says the McEnery center, built in 1989, needs to be renovated, expanded and distinguished from its competitors.

After the narrow defeat of a 2002 ballot measure that would have provided $370 million to expand the McEnery center by raising San Jose's hotel tax from 10 percent to 14 percent, the convention bureau last year erected a $6.77 million expansion tent on an adjacent parking lot. Called South Hall, it added 80,000 square feet, and the bureau hopes some day to convert it to permanent building space. Still, they say it's not enough.

What the McEnery center needs most is more ballroom space, which businesses use for general meetings, breakout sessions and banquets, said senior sales manager Joe Fuentes. The proposed project would allow the McEnery center to add two 40,000-square-foot ballrooms.

Kristen Clemens, spokeswoman for the Destination Marketing Association International, which represents convention and visitors bureaus, said she had not heard of any convention center-art museum combinations, though she added that they don't track such things. But she said convention bureaus nationwide are trying harder to differentiate themselves.

``It's all about figuring out what your destination experience is,'' Clemens said, ``what you offer your visitor that's unique.''
 

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San Jose mulls extending high-rise incentive

San Jose mulls extending high-rise incentive
CITY'S AFFORDABLE-UNIT EXEMPTION HELPED BRING HOUSING TO DOWNTOWN
By Katherine Conrad
Mercury News

Meri Simon / Mercury News
City Heights is the only housing project so far on track to meet the deadline for the affordable-units exemption deadline, June 30.
More photos
Three projects relying on affordable-unit exemption
San Jose mayoral candidates Cindy Chavez and Chuck Reed both want to give developers a break by extending a program that encourages high-rise housing downtown.

The two-year program, set to expire June 30, could come up at today's council meeting.

Under the program, high-rise developers who obtained building permits by that deadline could win exemptions from the city's requirement that 20 percent of the units sell for less than market rates.

But just one project, City Heights at Julian and San Pedro streets, is clearly on track to meet the deadline.

Chavez and Reed were not willing to say how far out they would be willing to extend the program. But Reed said he planned to discuss the issue.

``The waiver was to try to jump-start the process for residential high-rise projects and that's exactly what happened,'' Reed said. ``Unfortunately, two years is not long enough.''

Chavez also credited the program with delivering results.

``Two years ago we had zero projects coming forth to the council. Now we have one under construction, three in the immediate pipeline and 10 in some stage of development,'' Chavez said. ``I think waiving the requirement is part of the reason for these projects.''

City staff is now weighing the merits of setting a goal for the number of high-rise units that could be exempted, rather than another time-sensitive deadline, said John Weis, deputy executive director of San Jose's redevelopment agency.

``The program has been successful -- we have 697 units -- but we'd like to have more,'' Weis said.

The program was conceived as developers of San Jose's first condo towers weighed how to cushion the financial risk. Lenders were reluctant to underwrite high-rise projects in a city that had no track record with them. And in the two years since then, building costs have only gone up. The program waives the affordable-units requirement, and puts the first two years of a project's tax revenue into a fund for affordable housing.

Well-known developer Barry Swenson said builders must borrow more money on projects that have an affordability component, and it drives up the price of the market-rate units.

``It does hurt you with your lenders,'' said Swenson. His company, Barry Swenson Builder, is the developer of the City Heights project.

The city is trying to attract more residential housing downtown, in its goal to develop a vibrant city core. But the cost of setting aside units for people making less than the median income was scaring builders off.

``It's a challenge to get more people living in downtown San Jose,'' said Chavez, who represents downtown residents. ``We can't subsidize retail indefinitely.''

To be granted the waiver, a project had to be at least 12 stories high and located in a 10-block-by-10-block district bounded by Highway 87, Interstate 280, Fourth Street and the Union Pacific railroad tracks. And the building permit application had to be filed by June 30 of this year.

Two high-rise developments have applied for foundation, but not building, permits.

City staff has now recommended that a foundation permit be considered as meeting the requirement because at that point the developer must commit money to build the project.

Removing the affordability requirement assured the construction of at least one of the projects currently in the pipeline, a 328-unit project at 38 N. Almaden.

Without the waiver, ``it wouldn't pencil out financially for the ownership,'' said Kevin Sauser, an architect with Ankrom Moisan of Portland, Ore., working for Almaden Tower Ventures. ``They would not make as much money, and it's hard to recoup your costs.''

The Almaden project came under scrutiny when it went up against a height requirement imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration for buildings in the flight path of Mineta San Jose International Airport. Eventually the developers received approval to build to 228 feet.

``You will see more projects go forward if the affordable housing requirement is waived,'' Sauser said. ``We've got one on our desk that is dependent on this waiver for a project of similar size to the other.''

In the report to the council, redevelopment agency staff noted that San Jose exceeds the state's requirements for the number of affordable housing units. As of April, the city had 4,270 units compared with almost 2,100 in 2001, according to an analysis by Keyser-Marston Associates.

``We've built more affordable housing than any other city in the state of California in the last seven years,'' Chavez said.

That record gives the city leeway to consider extending the waiver, Reed said.

Swenson said he had to borrow $40 million of the $50 million needed to build the 124-unit City Heights project. Lifting the affordability requirement made it much easier to finance.

``The waiver really helps. It made the project possible because the lenders are so scared to death,'' Swenson said.
 

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San Jose mayoral candidates Cindy Chavez and Chuck Reed both want to give developers a break by extending a program that encourages high-rise housing downtown.

The two-year program, set to expire June 30, could come up at today's council meeting.

Under the program, high-rise developers who obtained building permits by that deadline could win exemptions from the city's requirement that 20 percent of the units sell for less than market rates.

But just one project, City Heights at Julian and San Pedro streets, is clearly on track to meet the deadline.

Chavez and Reed were not willing to say how far out they would be willing to extend the program. But Reed said he planned to discuss the issue.

``The waiver was to try to jump-start the process for residential high-rise projects and that's exactly what happened,'' Reed said. ``Unfortunately, two years is not long enough.''

Chavez also credited the program with delivering results.

``Two years ago we had zero projects coming forth to the council. Now we have one under construction, three in the immediate pipeline and 10 in some stage of development,'' Chavez said. ``I think waiving the requirement is part of the reason for these projects.''

City staff is now weighing the merits of setting a goal for the number of high-rise units that could be exempted, rather than another time-sensitive deadline, said John Weis, deputy executive director of San Jose's redevelopment agency.

``The program has been successful -- we have 697 units -- but we'd like to have more,'' Weis said.

The program was conceived as developers of San Jose's first condo towers weighed how to cushion the financial risk. Lenders were reluctant to underwrite high-rise projects in a city that had no track record with them. And in the two years since then, building costs have only gone up. The program waives the affordable-units requirement, and puts the first two years of a project's tax revenue into a fund for affordable housing.

Well-known developer Barry Swenson said builders must borrow more money on projects that have an affordability component, and it drives up the price of the market-rate units.

``It does hurt you with your lenders,'' said Swenson. His company, Barry Swenson Builder, is the developer of the City Heights project.

The city is trying to attract more residential housing downtown, in its goal to develop a vibrant city core. But the cost of setting aside units for people making less than the median income was scaring builders off.

``It's a challenge to get more people living in downtown San Jose,'' said Chavez, who represents downtown residents. ``We can't subsidize retail indefinitely.''

To be granted the waiver, a project had to be at least 12 stories high and located in a 10-block-by-10-block district bounded by Highway 87, Interstate 280, Fourth Street and the Union Pacific railroad tracks. And the building permit application had to be filed by June 30 of this year.

Two high-rise developments have applied for foundation, but not building, permits.

City staff has now recommended that a foundation permit be considered as meeting the requirement because at that point the developer must commit money to build the project.

Removing the affordability requirement assured the construction of at least one of the projects currently in the pipeline, a 328-unit project at 38 N. Almaden.

Without the waiver, ``it wouldn't pencil out financially for the ownership,'' said Kevin Sauser, an architect with Ankrom Moisan of Portland, Ore., working for Almaden Tower Ventures. ``They would not make as much money, and it's hard to recoup your costs.''

The Almaden project came under scrutiny when it went up against a height requirement imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration for buildings in the flight path of Mineta San Jose International Airport. Eventually the developers received approval to build to 228 feet.

``You will see more projects go forward if the affordable housing requirement is waived,'' Sauser said. ``We've got one on our desk that is dependent on this waiver for a project of similar size to the other.''

In the report to the council, redevelopment agency staff noted that San Jose exceeds the state's requirements for the number of affordable housing units. As of April, the city had 4,270 units compared with almost 2,100 in 2001, according to an analysis by Keyser-Marston Associates.

``We've built more affordable housing than any other city in the state of California in the last seven years,'' Chavez said.

That record gives the city leeway to consider extending the waiver, Reed said.

Swenson said he had to borrow $40 million of the $50 million needed to build the 124-unit City Heights project. Lifting the affordability requirement made it much easier to finance.

``The waiver really helps. It made the project possible because the lenders are so scared to death,'' Swenson said.
 

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*NOR CAL* said:
So it's not San Jose, but anyone got some news and pictures on the 101-85 interchange. (Hey, it's still in Santa Clara county) I believe it's almost finished now.
Its in Mt View, and yes its in Santa Clara County
 

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Saying hi to high-rises
LUXURIOUS LIVING DOWNTOWN? S.J. COUNCIL MAY GIVE OK TONIGHT
By Katherine Conrad
Mercury News
San Jose will be on its way to offering the high life to urban sophisticates if the city council agrees tonight to sell a prime downtown property for two 25-story luxury condominium towers.

The $28.6 million price tag for 1.5 acres of city land -- the site of a Market Street parking lot between the Fairmont Hotel and the Hyatt Sainte Claire -- could be the richest premium ever paid downtown.

``Looking at it just on a square foot basis, that will probably be the record price in downtown San Jose,'' said Scott Knies, executive director of the city's downtown association.

Developer Urban West Associates of San Diego casts it as a vote of confidence that the city is ready for high-rise luxury, which does not exist in the Bay Area outside of San Francisco and Oakland. Even though the real estate market is slowing, the company said it feels comfortable pricing the 460 units at about $500,000 for a 600-square-foot one-bedroom, and up to $2 million for an 1,800-square-foot penthouse unit.

The council is expected to approve the sale. Urban West expects to break ground on the project, called City Front Square, at the end of 2007. It plans to finish the project before 2010.

Mike Kriozere, Urban West's general partner, said the price of the land ``is related to what you can do on that site. You wouldn't pay that much to build a single-family home, but if you can build high-rise residential, it's not too much money to pay.''

Urban West, which is also building the 55-story One Rincon Hill tower at the foot of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, beat several other bidders after the city solicited proposals for the site in 2004. Kriozere said his company won the right to develop because he figured out what to do with Casa Del Pueblo, the site's low-income senior development, and agreed to pay what may be a record price for what is called Block 8.

The city's redevelopment agency was unwilling to sell the prime parcel for less than top dollar.

``It is the best residential location in Silicon Valley,'' said John Weis, deputy director of the city's redevelopment agency, ``not the second best and not the third best.''

Before Urban West could build its towers on what is now a parking lot -- an effort it expects will cost $300 million -- it had to find a new home for 200 residents of the deteriorating Casa Del Pueblo. The housing project was built 30 years ago by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In a complicated transaction that began five years ago, the developer worked with HUD and the building's owners, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 428. They decided to build a new home for the seniors next door at an estimated cost of $80 million, and demolish the current structure. The city would contribute $6.6 million to that effort.

Urban West agreed to partner with Preservation Partners Development of Manhattan Beach, a company specializing in below-market housing, to construct the new 288-unit building for the seniors on First Street, near the current building at 200 S. Market St.

The seniors can't wait.

In the current building the roof leaks and elevators frequently break down, forcing residents to walk as many as 12 flights of stairs, according to Shuling Liu, Casa Del Pueblo's social services coordinator. Not only will the new units be larger, the project will offer 50 more units for low-income residents.

Liu said the news that the new building is going up next door -- instead of across town -- was welcome. Now everyone wants to know when will construction start and when they get to move.

``The majority of the seniors are thrilled,'' she said.

Ron Lind, president of Local 428, said the union will still manage the senior building even though it will need to find new union offices. ``It was a very complicated process with all the different players involved,'' he said. ``It took awhile for all the pieces to fall into place. But it will be a much better facility for folks who live at Casa Del Pueblo.''

Kriozere, who has built high rises in Chicago, San Diego and now San Francisco, described himself as a cherry picker. He said he was considering a site near St. James Park when he walked over to Caesar Chavez park and wondered about the vacant corner across the street. He discovered the site belonged to the city, which had been hoping a high-tech company would build its headquarters there -- but that dream went up in smoke after the tech wreck.

The developer believes San Jose is ripe for the luxury market. Other developers, including CIM, Mesa and Barry Swenson Builder, are making the same bet.

Santa Clara County is one of the wealthiest counties in the country, he said, with a sophisticated, highly educated, highly paid population. Yet it is devoid of luxury housing that doesn't include a lawn.

``If they want luxury housing, which they do, what has been afforded to them is a single-family home, 4,000 to 7,000 square feet,'' Kriozere said. ``But if you're 30 or 35 years old, making a lot of money, don't have kids and if you don't want a great big home, there's nothing but moderate housing. That's all there is.

``I'm talking about high-rise, stuff that costs up to a couple million for a unit.''

Kriozere, whose company is building One Rincon Hill, said he was ``floored'' when 340 of 400 units in the tower sold during a 10-day period last week.

``There's a lot of four-story buildings in San Jose. They have no views or amenities that people who are successful are looking for,'' he said. ``We'll have 24-hour doormen, a health club, Internet hook-ups, luxury appliances, Bosch, subzero refrigerators, granite -- the whole thing.''

Not too bad, but then just about anything is an improvement over a parking lot
 

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Did someone say "bigger is better?!"






Notice the renders offer somewhat distinct designs for the project (I prefer the latter design because it's more modern, whatever that means). Also, what I assume to be the senior housing on the second render looks awesome...lucky seniors!
 

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I'm glad they're getting rid of that parking near the Fairmont. I saw alot of parking lots in the downtown area when I visited San Jose, and they were free!!!
 
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