By Meghan Hall
While downtown San Jose and north San Jose have typically drawn the attention of major developers and the region’s largest companies, west San Jose has established itself as vibrant retail and entertainment hub in its own right. Now, Pleasanton-based developer Pulte Homes has proposed a 691-unit development just blocks from major attractions such as Santana Row and the Winchester Mystery House, which, if approved, would contribute to increasing development — and density — in rapidly growing portion of town.
However, the path to delivery might not be as easy as anticipated for Pulte Homes; according to industry reporting by The Mercury News, the developer has encountered resistance to the relocation or possible demolition of the mobile home community, the Winchester Ranch Mobile Home Park. Concerns over where and how the site’s current residents will find similarly-priced housing are one of the challenges Pulte is working with residents and the Winchester Ranch Senior Homeowners Association to navigate.
A representative of Pulte Homes declined to comment, stating that it was too early for the company to release additional details on the project.
Currently, the project site, while located within the San Jose’s Urban Village, is only zoned for low-density residential development. The site’s zoning dates back to the 1970s as part of a wider city initiative to protect mobile home land uses from being eliminated.
“In the case of the Winchester Ranch Mobile Home Park, the owner’s representative asked on many occasions for the park to be included into the boundary of the Urban Village. City staff included the park in the boundary but has been clear with the representative that it did not commit the City to supporting any change in use or closure of the existing mobile home park,” states the City in public documents that address frequently asked questions about the fate of the mobile home park.
The City also adds that the purpose of the existing land use designation is to preserve the character of the neighborhood and “strictly” limit new development projects to those that closely match the neighborhood density and size. In order to proceed, Pulte Homes will also need to acquire a General Plan Amendment and Planned Development Rezoning approval, a process that could add months to the project timeline.
Located at 555. S. Winchester Blvd., the 15.7-acre site is currently occupied by 111 single-story mobile home units, a club house and parking. The new development, six times the density of the current mobile home park, would also include a half-acre park and 1,248 parking spaces. According to project documents, development is to occur in two phases, and existing residents whose mobile homes are not removed Phase One could remain living on the site until the second phase of development begins.
The project site is located in a busy part of west San Jose, with the Interstate 880 and Interstate 280 interchange just blocks away. While much of the surrounding neighborhood is low density residential, the presence of Santana Row on Winchester Blvd. and the Westfield Valley Fair Mall on Stevens Creek Blvd. add increased activity to the area. Both downtown San Jose and downtown Santa Clara are about ten minutes away by car.
According to Marcus & Millichap’s 2018 Fourth Quarter Multifamily Report, rents in the region reaccelerated at the end of the year as deliveries slowed. In San Jose particular, the number of projects contracted, falling nearly 2,000 units year over year as builders focused on locations in central and south San Jose. Constrained supply and a vacancy rate of about 3 percent in west San Jose means that rents for multifamily units have risen by about 5.5 percent year-over-year, further highlighting San Jose’s — and the region’s — need for more multifamily development.