SummerHill’s Mixed-Use Santa Clara Project Awaits Final Decision Following Revisions

SummerHill Apartment Communities Studio T Square Gangi Corporation El Camino Real Caltrain Santa Clara Town Centre Residential Retail

By Jacob Bourne

The Gangi Corporation owns a 2.74-acre site at 2232 El Camino Real in Santa Clara that’s up for redevelopment by SummerHill Apartment Communities. A single-story commercial building and surface parking lot currently occupy adjoining parcels bounded by El Camino Real, Los Padres Boulevard, Anna Drive and McCormick Drive. Beginning in 2014, the developer originally proposed a purely residential building but subsequently added a retail component in response to City feedback. Planning staff have recommended the vesting parcel map along with rezoning from Community Commercial to Planned Development and a mitigated negative declaration.  On January 25, the Planning Commission approved the project given certain conditions such as providing unbundled parking and additional electric vehicle charging stations equipped with pre-wiring for more stations if needed in the future. The project is slated to go before City Council on March 7 for possible final approval. Studio T Square has also been involved in the planning process.

“The developer revised the plans and worked with their retail partner to provide more retail spaces and with staff for a new proposal,” said Steve Le, assistant planner. “Things are quiet with the project right now; there has been some opposition but not much. It’s mostly been well supported because it’s located near commercial.”

The applicant had requested rezoning to be able to work within more flexible design standards for the building, which will vary in height from three to five stories, up to 65 feet. One and two bedroom apartment units will total 151, above 10,000 square feet of retail to provide continuous frontage along El Camino Real. A fitness center, lobby and office comprise 6,400 square feet of residential community space. Five levels of above-grade parking will be incorporated behind the retail portion, shielded from street view, and offer 290 spots including seven surface spaces. Ample open space totaling 9,170 square feet is also included in the plans.

“It’s unique attribute is that it’s a double frontage — it faces both El Camino and Anna Drive, and its redevelopment will architecturally frame Santa Clara Town Centre and really be transforming,” expressed Elaine Breeze, project representative, SummerHill.

The Spanish-Mission architectural style was chosen to reflect existing development in the vicinity creating a welcoming presence for the “vibrant pedestrian scaled frontage” on El Camino Real and Anna Drive. As part of a community benefits package, the developer has committed to providing public improvements involving streetscape enhancements on El Camino Real and Anna Drive, modification of traffic lights and the addition of a 3,700 square foot public plaza. Community outreach for the project included two meetings last April and November to address concerns of neighbors.

“After the April meeting SummerHill continued to address City comments and refine our plans, dramatically redesigning the project twice, adding significantly more retail, enhancing exterior detailing, building materials, onsite recreation and landscaping,” Breeze said.

The project is located in the El Camino Real Focus Area aimed at shifting the area from being dominated by strip malls and surface parking lots to pedestrian and transit-oriented corridors featuring landscaping, retail and high-density residential. The General Plan guides the vision of the focus area and designates the site as Regional Mixed-Use.

The property is situated between a Chase Bank and a salon along one of the city’s major shopping corridors. In the immediate area surrounding the project, the Santa Clara Town Centre offers retail and dining options such as Walgreens, Sprouts Farmers Market, Mayuri Indian Cuisine, The Habit Burger Grill, Verizon and a Target. It’s also about two miles from the Santa Clara Caltrain Station, Santa Clara University and Costco.

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