By Alice Yin
Milpitas is making headway on its 20-year residential redevelopment plan, with about half of its planned 7,000 units already under way.
Adopted in 2008, the Transit Area Specific Plan calls for the residential units to be added in the southern part of the city, or the Great Mall district. This massive revamp of the area carries out the plan’s title by boosting housing in areas close to transit, including the Valley Transportation Authority Light Rail station and the under-construction Milpitas BART station, slated to open in 2018.[contextly_sidebar id=”vNdoXpWAvNhZ64y4I8pAnvPUnd72Ajvj”]“I think this is a strategy for all older areas,” said Felix Reliford, the city’s principal housing planner. “Planners in general are trying to have TOD[s]—transit-oriented developments. You put commercial and residential housing around transit areas, and hopefully the spinoff benefits of that would be the community.”
Most of the structures will be high-density condominiums, with about 40-60 dwelling units, Reliford said. Out of the current nine approved projects, at least two are complete and already occupied. The rest have begun construction. The overall plan is on track to meet the 7,000-unit goal by the mid-2020s, provided the economy remains stable, Reliford said
In the past few months, three notable developers have moved forward with projects, said Milpitas Planning Director Bill Ekern. Lennar Multifamily Communities, a division of Miami-based Lennar Corp., was cleared for 489 units at 450 Montague Expressway. Santa Clara-based SCS Development has a spot for 732 units along the future BART tracks on 1200 Piper Drive, and Lyon Communities of Newport Beach, Calif., will be constructing about 371 units nearby at 1315 McCandless Drive.
SummerHill Housing Group hopes to be the next developer in the area. The San Ramon-based company has just submitted a revised plan for a residential building development and will have updates to come in the next few weeks, according to a company spokesperson.
Reliford said the city expects the new high-density development and transit-oriented strategy, a different approach than what the city has previously seen, will revitalize Milpitas.
“Obviously there’s going to be more people in the area,” Reliford said. “It’s going to increase our tax base given the amenities we’re planning…People, we’re hoping, will be closer to jobs.”
The future Milpitas BART station will be south of neighboring city Fremont’s upcoming Warm Spring stop. The Milpitas stop is located beside the Montague Expressway and the VTA Light Rail station.
“It’s very pragmatic for Milpitas,” Reliford said about the new station. “A lot of jobs are down here and it’s going to be a major boom with commercial and office space.”
The transit area plan also proposes sustainable walking paths and bike trails in an effort to combat congestion and pollution and also has designs for lighting along Montague Expressway and other exterior streets. The blueprint for the area will essentially be “building a community within a community,” Reliford said.
Among the new developments is a plan to build a new elementary school, with the intention to acquire a portion of nearby land for a park. Given enrollment projections with the Milpitas Unified School District and the predicted new influx from the transit area plan’s residential developments, the city and school district identified a need for a new elementary school, Reliford said.
The transit area plan also calls for land to be set aside for commercial development—900,000 square feet of office space and about 400,000 to 450,000 square feet of retail development, according to Reliford. For now, commercial and office development has been slow, said Reliford, but he expects it to pick up with the rest of development in the Great Mall district.
“Once BART comes and ridership takes place, we perceive commercial and office space are going to follow,” Reliford said. “You get off the BART and you’re going to want a cup of coffee and a deli sandwich. Those are amenities around a transit station. As BART comes down, then the market follows that.”
Overall, Reliford predicts a community-wide benefit from the scope of redevelopment that the transit area plan brings.
“I think we have good housing stock and a lot more variety now,” he said. “The way we plan is drawn out to major benefits to Milpitas: bike trails, walking trails, parks, a school—myriad benefits to residents.”
Rendering courtesy of KTGY Group, Inc.