Charities Housing Moves Forward with 108-Unit Affordable Housing Project in Santa Clara

Charities Housing, Santa Clara, San Jose, Mithun Inc, San Francisco, Formwork Landscape Architects, San Diego, Santa Clara Planning Commission, Santa Clara City Council, Santa Clara County, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County

By Kate Snyder

As more communities are looking for ways to address the need for affordable housing, one project planned for Santa Clara aims to make a dent in the demand with a five-story, 108-unit apartment complex. The developer, Charities Housing, is based in San Jose, and the architect is Mithun, Inc., based in San Francisco. The landscape architect is Formwork Landscape Architects from San Diego.

Representatives for the project recently presented the proposal during a Santa Clara Development Review Hearing, where the design was approved. The plan has already been through the Santa Clara Planning Commission and City Council, the latter of which approved the project in November.

Located at 1601 Civic Center Drive, the new building is slated to include 108 units with approximately one quarter of units reserved for Santa Clara County’s Rapid Rehousing program, according to public information. The RRH program would support individuals and families who experience financial challenges that cause episodic homelessness with housing placement, financial assistance and case management service. Amenities within the building would include private balconies and patios, with community features including 108 bicycle spaces along with 82 vehicle parking stalls.

The recent hearing was an architectural review of the site design with specific points for consideration for lighting, the landscape plan, exterior elevations and privacy impacts. Antonio Pares, principal at Mithun, shared the changes to the design involving the size of the windows – windows facing toward neighboring structures, such as nearby single family homes, were modified to a higher and narrower design, which would primarily give apartment residents views of the sky. 

Pares also pointed out the landscaping for the project involved the use of small and medium evergreen trees as well as large planters that would both set pedestrians back from the property lines and give coverage for privacy purposes. He noted, too, that the coverage works both ways, and neighboring houses would not be able to see clearly into the building’s apartments.

The building’s massing would be broken up into a variety of widths as well as facade variations with window recesses at different depths, Pares said, which was another concern brought up for discussion. The construction materials would be primarily stucco in blue, white and gray as well as wood and metal paneling.

Lesley Xavier, development review officer, was pleased with the design as well as the changes made to it.

“I appreciate the fact that you did change the windows on that western elevation to address the privacy concerns,” Xavier said, “and the planting that was chosen was done so very thoughtfully with privacy in mind.”

Charities Housing is a residential development arm of the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, according to the group’s website. Established in 1990, the housing organization was formed to help address the need for affordable housing in the area. The group’s projects are located throughout Santa Clara County and the range of housing types includes service-enriched housing for extremely low-income individuals as well as traditional affordable multi-family housing. Charities Housing oversees the management and operation of more than 1,200 units and contracts for appropriate resident services from Catholic Charities.

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