By Kate Snyder
As San Jose officials continue pushing to enhance the northern part of the city, one proposed development has taken another step toward that goal. A plan to construct 1.9 million square feet of office space at 550 East Brokaw Road was approved Wednesday by the San Jose Planning Commission.
“The North San Jose plan has been a vision for the city to have housing and jobs,” said Pierluigi Oliverio, planning commission chair. “The city, in its phase one, built all the housing and didn’t receive the jobs that were intended. So this project would put it a step in that direction to provide the jobs, which then in turn provides the tax base both to cities, counties and school districts to pay for city services and local government services.”
During its meeting, the commission recommended that the San Jose City Council – the deciding body – adopt resolutions certifying the project’s environmental impact report, approving the subdivision of the 19.7-acre site and approving a site development permit for the construction of the project.
The project developer is Campbell and Bay West Development, and the architect is San Francisco-based Gensler. The civil engineer is CBG.
According to project plans, the proposal is for the construction of seven new eight-story buildings totaling about 1.9 million square feet and two parking structures totaling 5,385 vehicle stalls on a 19.7-acre site. The office towers would be configured around a central pedestrian walkway and open space area. The site’s existing surface parking lot, office and electronics superstore building (formerly occupied by Fry’s Electronics) would be demolished and 274 trees would be removed to make way for the new project.
“We’re excited to push this project forward and continue to bring an employment center to this area of North San Jose and continue the work that’s already happening around this area,” said Bryon Wolf, partner at Bay West Development.
The office campus is also slated to include various open space features and amenities, according to previous reporting by The Registry. The ground level of the office campus would be oriented around two east-west green belts running through the interior of the office campus development, and amenities would include two large open spaces, paved office patios, miniature plazas and outdoor work and meeting pods.
Project plans also state that private streets, including sidewalks and crosswalks, would be constructed for vehicles to access the interior portions of the site. The project would incorporate a series of paseos and plaza areas for pedestrians to access the site from both the surrounding public streets and internally. Vehicle access would be established from a signaled intersection at the center of the site and a driveway along East Brokaw Road as well as two driveways along Junction Road. Pedestrian and bicyclist access would be allowed from the sidewalks along East Brokaw Road, Junction Road and the newly constructed private streets within the site.
During the meeting, the planning board asked several questions regarding the tree removal, with multiple members noting that the planned removal amount – 274 – was a lot. City officials explained that out of the total number of trees being removed, 210 are ordinance-sized and 64 are non-ordinance-sized. All trees slated for removal are non-native. Also, the developer would be required to plant at least 479 new trees to replace the ones removed, and the developer is currently planning to plant 580 trees as part of the project.
Planning Commissioner Sylvia Ornelas-Wise also pointed out certain other items she would like to see the developer and design team take into consideration, such as the possibility of having a place for childcare within the planned office campus and adequate lighting for safety. Overall, though, she and others were excited about the project and what it could bring to the community.
“I think it’s a great project,” Ornelas-Wise said. “It was really well done and designed, and I look forward to it being constructed. I definitely am in favor of it.”