After Spending $49MM on San Jose Property, Developer Brings Plans to Light

Weingarten Realty, Cambrian Park Plaza Shopping Center, Camden Community Center, Weingarten Realty Investors, Cambrian Park Plaza, Schaffer Land Trust, Kenneth Rodrigues, Partners of Mountain View, Campbell, Los Gatos, Main Street Cupertino, San Jose Planning Department

By Michele Chandler

The site of a folksy but aging shopping strip and one-time Christmas tree lot in San Jose could transform into a modern “urban village” containing townhomes and a new hotel by owner Weingarten Realty.

According to documents filed with the city on February 9, 2018, the development is planned for the Cambrian Park Plaza Shopping Center at 14200 & 14420 Union Avenue.

The Notice of Preparation Public Comment Period starts on February 15th and will end on March 19th. A joint community and environmental public scoping meeting to detail the proposal will be held on March 5th at 7 p.m. at the Camden Community Center, located at 3369 Union Avenue.

Weingarten’s application has been formally submitted, San Jose Project Manager Jennifer Piozet said via email. “The Scoping Meeting is to gather community input on what they want to see analyzed in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), in addition to any other concerns they may have,” Piozet said.

The Cambrian shopping complex sits in an unincorporated pocket of west San Jose. The community consists mostly of older homes and is located not far from shopping locales where much redevelopment has taken off, including Willow Glen and Campbell.

The 18.13-acre Cambrian center, at the southeast corner of Union and Camden avenues, is drawing rising interest from developers.

In early 2015, Houston, Texas-based shopping center owner, manager and developer Weingarten Realty Investors (NYSE: WRI) paid $49 million, or roughly $288 per square foot, to acquire the 170,427-square-foot Cambrian Park Plaza. Weingarten acquired the complex from Schaffer Land Trust. An entity called Weingarten Nostat, Inc. owns the land, Piozet said.

“Since originally developed, the center has become unattractive to potential new tenants due to its lack of modern function and appearance,” Weingarten’s website says, noting that the complex’s vacancy rate is approximately 36 percent and rising. Weingarten said because of the complex’s “relatively low density, aging infrastructure and short-term lease arrangements, the property presents a rare opportunity for the local community, city and Weingarten Realty to pursue redevelopment.”

Weingarten said it has engaged architecture firm Kenneth Rodrigues and Partners of Mountain View, which used downtown Campbell, Los Gatos and Main Street Cupertino as inspiration for Cambrian’s design.

Weingarten has proposed demolishing all existing buildings on the site and constructing:

  • a six-story hotel containing up to 238 rooms total or up to 150,000 square feet of office space
  • up to 115,000 square feet of retail/entertainment center
  • a two-story convalescent home and assisted living center of up to 130,000 square feet
  • up to 280 apartments
  • up to 84 townhomes and/or cluster housing
  • approximately 2 acres of public park and town square space

“The walking village plan includes shop retail, restaurants and entertainment opportunities focused on a town square along with many plazas and green space for eating and gathering, farmers’ markets and community events, plus an additional one-acre park where the iconic carousel will reside,” according to Weingarten’s website.

Last month, real estate website Redfin ranked Cambrian No. 2 on its list of Hottest Neighborhoods that are gaining popularity as housing destinations “for tech workers priced out of San Francisco.” Redfin pegged the median home sale price in Cambrian at $1.2 million.

A planned development pre-zoning to CN(PD) Planned Development Zoning District from the current designation of unincorporated would enable the current retail center to be replaced with the mixed-use project.

San Jose officials will prepare an Environmental Impact Report to “include an analysis of the project’s potential land use impacts on the surrounding community, as well as an evaluation of its conformance with applicable City of San José policies, ordinances and guidelines.”

“The proposed conversion of the existing retail center to a mixed-use urban village containing commercial/retail, residential, hospital, hotel and/or office uses represents a significant change in land use,” the city’s filing said.

The Weingarten contact was unable to respond before deadline to a request for comment.

Weingarten, founded in 1948, owned or operated 204 properties in 17 states under long-term leases, according to the company’s regulatory filings made in December with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Weingarten’s portfolio of neighborhood and community shopping centers totaled approximately 42.4 million square feet, the company said in September of 2017.