By Jacob Bourne
The SJSC Towers mixed-use project proposed for San Jose’s Downtown received approval on March 15 at a Planning Director’s hearing. The project site is right across from City Hall on the Northwest corner of East Santa Clara Street and North 5th Street. Following the demolition of a 5,574 square foot car wash, construction is expected to begin this summer for two, 28-story towers. The small 1.4-acre site will be transformed by the addition of 610 residential units, 14,173 square feet of ground floor retail and 24,693 square feet of office-flex space, all within structures reaching 298 feet in height.
“It’s now fully approved,” said Sylvia Do, Planning Division manager. “The project meets the City’s long term goals for Downtown. It’s located near the transit line, and the future BART station will be within walking distance of the project, serving as a crucial benefit for the residents.”
The developer, SJSC Properties, LLC, is the local entity related to Beijing Damei Investment Co. based in China. Steinberg Architects is the project’s architectural firm that has previously collaborated with Beijing Damei through its satellite office in Shanghai. According to Rob Steinberg, chairman at Steinberg Architects, the developer seized the opportunity soon after the City issued the bid on the site.
“We know the development team and they’re very engaged with what’s going on in the area,” said Scott Knies, executive director, San Jose Downtown Association. “The advantage of working with a local architect is that they’re rooted in the community and understand the context and the need for something special that will really stand on its own next to the muscular City Hall.”
Knies and others have nicknamed the project, “Peregrine Towers” and hope that it may become the official title. He stressed the importance of the site to the fabric of Downtown and thinks that the project will provide an inspiring design and benefit the community.
Plans show the West Tower providing 298 condo units with 312 apartments in the East Tower. Four levels of above grade and three levels of below grade parking will accommodate both residents and retail patrons. A landscaped roof with pool deck is one of many amenities. Street corners on South 4th and North 5th Streets will be activated by ground floor shops and restaurants while lobby entrances for both towers have extended heights to offer a grand welcoming gesture. The office-flex space will incorporate a commercial work space area that will further activate the Downtown.
“Our hope is that combination of the retail, housing and flex spaces will lead to more activity on the street,” said Steinberg. “The design of the towers is a tribute to the high quality of life we have in San Jose. The East and West towers are angled and possess a pattern of solids and voids, shadows and depths, which create a richness in the facade that not a lot of new buildings have. We pushed this idea of light and shadow and it will be an exquisite addition to Downtown.”
Steinberg and Knies both predict that in conjunction with City Hall, the project will imbue Downtown with a greater sense of character. By forming a gateway for the eastern edge of the neighborhood that borders a district largely permeated with single family homes, the project will invite pedestrians to the Downtown core to enjoy new retail and dining as well as the existing plaza.
The project had been found to be in compliance with General Plan guidelines under the planning review process. Staff also noted that the building’s design relates well to pedestrian users by incorporating generous areas of glass at the ground level as well as by projecting the third floor office-flex space outward to provide shelter for pedestrians and a visual connection with the streetscape.