By Jacob Bourne
Construction on the Silver project began in November marking the first phase of a three phase buildout for a large residential mixed-use high-rise in the Midtown neighborhood of San Jose on the corner of Auzerais Avenue and Sunol Street. Following a lengthy 10-year planning process, developer Green Republic LLLP, a joint venture between SWENSON and Republic Urban Properties, will be holding a ground breaking reception on December 21 at the construction site. Republic Urban Properties, based in San Jose, is part of the Republic Family of Companies.[contextly_sidebar id=”repgPN3dFBgDWKZpqd0SWWoCWESaq0Qw”]“I’m a native of San Jose as is the Swenson family,” said Michael Van Every, president and CEO, Republic Urban Properties. “Midtown has always been a live-work, mixed-use area and now it plays a major role in San Jose’s housing future. It’s a very important transit corridor for jobs, housing and retail shopping.”
The property, previously classified as a Brownfield, is 8.25 acres adjacent to Del Monte Park and had been owned by the Valley Transportation Authority and used as a bus lot. In 2006, Green Republic became the developer through an auction Request for Proposals process, but with the Great Recession in 2007, the project was delayed for several years. As the project is located within the Midtown Specific Plan Area, part of the process involved an amendment to the Specific Plan to accommodate the housing, which occurred between 2008 and 2010.
“The City wanted height and density for that location,” recalled Van Every. “It’s an old industrial site and so the Specific Plan had to be updated to allow for the height and density. Basically the Plan was outdated and with this project, it was updated for more modern, transit oriented development.”
Though plans were approved in 2010, the sale of the portion of public land for $18 million wasn’t finalized until 2013 following a renegotiation of the development contract with VTA the prior year. The remaining acreage had been purchased from a private owner for $2 million. The project is located a few blocks from Meridian at Midtown, another residential project by Republic Urban and SWENSON providing 218 units. According to Van Every, the strong interest in Meridian helped fuel the resurgence of the Silver project.
Silver will total 800 apartment units and 25,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving retail at full buildout. Phase I is purely residential adding 268 of the units, followed by a potential ground breaking for Phase II in mid-2017 and Phase III aimed for before 2020. The height of the development will vary widely from four to eleven stories and up to 150 feet. One community benefit aspect of the project is four acres of public recreational space that will be added to the Del Monte Park. Silver exceeds Build It Green standards by incorporating solar power, water collection, green roofs, waste diversion and energy saving architectural designs.
Since 2006, over 30 community meetings were held about the project. Though it was approved unanimously by the VTA, Planning Commission and City Council, in the early years it met opposition from some community members who wanted more shopping options for the area instead of housing.
“We have been one of the pioneers in Midtown because we really believe in this area,” Van Every expressed. “Public-private partnerships take twice as long to develop as buying from a private owner. We’re patient, local, long term investors for this neighborhood. We’ve taken an abandoned Brownfield site and it’s now starting to become part of an epicenter of housing for our tech workforce.”