200-Unit Affordable Home Complex Pitched for Former San Jose Retail Site

By Meghan Hall

A retail property in the suburbs of San Jose could be transformed in the coming years after shuttering last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. At the site, San Diego, Calif.-based Affirmed Housing has submitted an early pitch to City officials to build about 200 units of affordable housing at the property, giving an underutilized site new life.

The project would be located on a 1.6-acre parcel at 1371 Kooser Rd. The asset sits adjacent toa commercial center anchored by Michaels and Outdoor Supply Hardware. Other businesses, like Bill’s Café and KFC are also nearby. The majority of the neighborhood, however, is developed with single-family homes. Westfield Oakland, a major mall, is located a few minutes away, as is the West Valley  Freeway.

Previously, the retail property was occupied by a Chuck E. Cheese. The proposed project would rise six-stories in height and include amenities such as a community room. Ground floor retail could also be included in the plans.

However, Affirmed Housing noted to industry sources the plans are still very much amenable and meant to obtain opinions from the wider community and city officials. Affirmed Housing intends to pursue more community outreach before formally solidifying its plans for the property.

Housing prices continue to remain high, even as the result of the pandemic. While a report from Kidder Mathews notes that rents dipped by 6.29 percent across the Bay Area by the end of the fourth quarter of 2020, the average asking rent still came in at $2,235 per month. Studios rent for about $1,759 per month, while one- and two-bedroom units rent for about $2,022 and $2,487 per month, respectively. Three-bedrooms rent for about $2,875 per month.

In San Jose, where Affirmed Housing plans to build, the median household income between 2015 and 2019 came to $109,593 per year. Per capita income came to just about $46,600, according to Census Bureau data. 8.7 percent of San Jose’s population is considered to be at or below the poverty line.

If approved, the Kooser Road project would make just a small dent in tackling the region’s affordability crisis in the years to come. Constructing accessible, long-term affordable housing remains a huge challenge for both developers and local officials in the Bay Area. In a recent forum conducted by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, Mayor Sam Liccardo revealed to participants that a Santa Clara County identified roughly 10,000 individuals experiencing homelessness on any given night. Because it costs about $700,000 to develop a single unit of affordable housing, Liccardo noted that the County faced a “$7 billion problem.”  Liccardo conceded the scope of the work was far too big for municipalities to handle alone, and stated that a mix of non-profit development—similar to Affirmed Housing’s vision for 1371 Kooser—and public private partnerships, would be needed to truly make progress.

As of this writing, Affirmed Housing had not yet returned The Registry’s request for comment.

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