By David Goll
In the continuing effort to transform the auto-oriented, suburban-style sprawl that characterized much of San Jose development from the 1950s to 1970s, a densely developed mixed-use project has been proposed for the city’s west side.
The development that, if approved, would be built by Shorenstein Properties and Prometheus Real Estate Group, could include up to 360,000 square feet of office space, about 15,000 square feet of retail and 871 residential units, and a 1.5-acre park.
It would be built on a nearly 17-acre site at Saratoga Avenue and Stevens Creek Boulevard that has been home to Harry’s Hofbrau restaurant since 1978 and formerly the Garden City Casino, among other businesses.
The new project is described as an “urban village” by Erik Schoennauer, a San Jose-based land-use consultant and partner in The Schoennauer Co. who is representing co-developers Shorenstein and Prometheus.
“This is a great location for that kind of development because it is such a large site,” Schoennauer said. “It allows (the city and developers) to achieve the key components of a signature project.”
Today, a signature project in the Bay Area’s largest city includes a significant amount of office space, which generates employment, along with retail businesses, rental apartments, parks and community gathering spots. It combines jobs with nearby residential development.
“It also requires high quality urban design and architectural design in the buildings,” Schoennauer said. “The current use is, frankly, a collection of antiquated commercial buildings, single story, with large surface parking lots.”
Because the project will require an environmental impact report, Schoennauer said he expects city planners to take up to a year to complete their review process. Assuming approval by early 2017 and construction getting under way later in the year, completion of the first phase of the project could come within 18 months, he said.
Justin Daniels, planning project manager for San Jose’s Planning, Building and Code Enforcement department, said the project will bring together a site with eight different parcels that have a total of nine owners. It will require a planned development rezoning from a commercial general zoning designation to a planned development zoning district. The residential component “may be subject to the city’s inclusionary housing policy, inclusionary housing ordinance or newly adopted affordable housing impact fee,” Daniels said.
That fee, adopted by the San Jose City Council 15 months ago, requires new market-rate rental housing projects with three or more units to pay a one-time impact fee of $17 per finished livable square foot.
“The residential component makes the office part of the project feasible,” Schoennauer said. “More and more employers want to locate in places where their employees can walk to work, where they can live, work, dine and recreate in a neighborhood setting.”
Larry Kramer, owner of Harry’s Hofbrau Inc., has been taking care of the dining needs of local residents for the past 37 years. He has also operated Harry’s Hofbrau locations in Redwood City since 1954 and San Leandro since 1989.
His San Jose restaurant occupies 16,000 square feet of space in a 110,000-square-foot building. He said he plans to operate that restaurant for as long as he can before possible demolition of the existing building, and that he envisions either continuing to operate in the new development or finding another location in San Jose.
“The property is huge and in dire need of redevelopment,” Kramer said. “We were under the assumption that the city is in favor of us staying in the (new development), but we have not heard that for sure from the city.”
As a result, Kramer said he has also started scouting other potential locations for his traditional eatery, known for its hearty fare at reasonable prices, especially its whole roasted turkey dinners and sandwiches.
“We are one of the few remaining cafeterias in the entire state,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy for us to find another space that would be large enough for a business like ours. Our neighborhood is a very vital area, with lots of restaurants and businesses of all sorts. We feel we have been quite a benefit to that part of the city.”