Public Review Period Ends for Federal Realty’s 1MM SQ FT Santana West Project

San Jose Santana West Federal Realty Santana Row Urban Village Plan Studios Architecture Commercial Interstate 280 Moorpark Avenue

By Jacob Bourne

A nearly 13-acre site on the southwestern corner of Winchester Boulevard and Olin Avenue in San Jose is up for redevelopment by Federal Realty. Movie theaters, Century 22 and 23 plus a restaurant would be demolished to make way for the construction of almost one million square feet of commercial space. The existing Century 21 building, designated a City Landmark listed in the California Register of Historic Places, could be relocated to a different portion of the site for repurposing as a storage facility or entertainment venue. The proposed development is just north of the Winchester Mystery House and close to Santana Row.

A 45 day public comment review period ended August 8. As the project requires rezoning from Commercial General to Planned Development Zone District, an environmental review process needs to be completed and go before both the Planning Commission and City Council.

“We’ve submitted our draft EIR, and it’s under City review,” said Stuart MacDonald, director of development, Federal Realty. “We’re hoping to get it before the Council in September.”

In 2014 the developer had envisioned the project as mixed-used with a significant residential component. However, as the City hasn’t yet finalized the Urban Village Plan, all mixed-use developments must meet certain criteria of the Signature Project planning process. After gathering community feedback and identifying its own development goals, Federal Realty decided not to wait for the Urban Village Plan to be adopted or go through the Signature Project process, and instead is moving forward with an all-commercial project.

“The City’s General Plan is a job’s first plan,” offered John Tu, City planner. “Moving forward with one million square feet near Santana Row is a unique opportunity. It will be interesting to see how this will play out as the area is like a second downtown. It will add jobs that support residential.”

Based on the current plan iteration created by master planner Studios Architecture, the project will consist of six buildings offering up to 970,000 square feet of office space and 29,000 square feet of retail space. The buildings will be between six and nine stories with both above and below-grade parking garages within the structures.

According to Tu, traffic impacts are usually anticipated with large-scale projects and associated traffic studies will be just one component of a Transportation Demand Management Plan for the whole area. Depending on the study outcomes, improvements could be made to Winchester Boulevard and the area where Interstate 280 meets Moorpark Avenue.

Because the project no longer has a residential component, there will be less open space than originally conceptualized and likely only a small amount that’s publicly accessible. As a Planned Development Zone District, the commercial spaces will be approved for office, hotel or retail uses. MacDonald remarked that another recent Federal Realty office building developed on speculation currently houses a tech-industry tenant. Though a similar use is possible for Santana West, flexible floor plans will be incorporated into the project to allow for alternatives.

“The housing-jobs balance is very skewed towards housing, so this is a 100-percent jobs first project,” added MacDonald. “We think that it’s the best possible outcome looking at the long-term financial health of the community. It’s the most supportable politically.”

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