By David Goll
Residential development in San Jose is taking a decidedly new and urbanized turn with a project known as Montgomery 7 that will eschew all parking.
The proposed 10-story mixed-use building in downtown’s Diridon Urban Village Plan area near the Diridon rail station, SAP Center and the city’s newest Whole Foods Market at 777 The Alameda will feature 54 small market-rate apartment units and 1,856 square feet of ground-floor retail space. All of the market-rate rental units will be studios ranging in size from 425 to 525 square feet, which are considered in some cities to be a “micro-unit” apartment that have become popular as a way to combat skyrocketing rents. The average apartment rent in San Jose in February was $2,783.[contextly_sidebar id=”UAkY1BDIekJwG28mz5DIiT8xRD1fsGXm”]Located at the corner of S. Montgomery Street and Lorraine Avenue, the project is scheduled to go before the San Jose City Council for consideration June 14. It already received approval from the city Planning Commission May 11. Part of the proposal is a rezoning of the site from light industrial to planned development.
“We know there is a market for this type of housing, but we will see how it works in San Jose,” said John Tu, a planner with the San Jose Planning, Building and Code Enforcement department.
After being a relatively sleepy agricultural community up until the 1940s, San Jose started sprawling in all directions in the post-World War II era, as shopping centers and suburban-style subdivision housing gobbled up thousands of acres of orchards, as did the region’s burgeoning aerospace and technology industries. Redevelopment-fueled efforts to reverse three decades of automobile-dominated suburban sprawl development began in the 1980s and have begun to bear fruit as the city of more than 1 million—the nation’s 10th largest—is building denser, taller and smaller these days.
“We expect that this development will appeal to people of all ages,” said Kurt Anderson, principal at Campbell-based Anderson Architects Inc., who is designing the project. “People who do not need or want to have a car and who want a more urban lifestyle.”
The building will have three electric cars available to residents who will be able to rent them on an hourly or daily basis.
Anderson said the structure will be built to the California Green Building Code, established by the state Building Standards Commission. Each unit will have its own mechanical system and the building will feature solar panels, as well as high-efficiency windows and appliances. Tu said building residents will have memberships in ride-sharing and bike-sharing programs made available to make it even more attractive to those devoted to alternative transportation modes. The building will also feature a rooftop deck commons area, a small gym and additional laundry facilities to bolster the washers and dryers in each unit.
Building this unconventional housing project is taking a risk that’s likely to pay off, according to Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association.
“This would be built in a sensitive, transitional neighborhood on the west side of downtown,” Knies said. “My sense of it is with all the pressure we see on the local housing market, there is going to be an appetite for this type of housing. It would be new for San Jose, but I think this kind of product will be well received.”
Within walking distance of downtown restaurants, museums, theaters and employers; SAP Center, home of the San Jose Sharks; and San Jose Diridon station—which now handles Caltrain, Amtrak, VTA light rail and Altamont Commuter Express trains, and in the future BART and high-speed rail—the project should serve as a magnet for attracting everyone from millennial tech workers to downsizing retirees, Knies said.
“We need all types of housing in downtown San Jose,” he said. “This is a housing product whose time has come. We are now looking at permanent and transitional housing for the homeless, housing for [San Jose State University] students, and larger expensive housing for the more affluent. [Montgomery 7] would fill a very important in the downtown housing picture.”
The developer of the project is Dean Hanson, who could not be reached for comment. Tu said if the project gets the city’s green light in June, construction could potentially begin next year, with the building process hastened by not having to dig a trench for underground parking.
“This is a project that fits the ideals of the [Diridon Area Station Plan], implementing its goals to their full capacity,” Tu said. “We will see how the market reacts.”