By Jacob Bourne
A 45-acre historically industrial neighborhood in northern Santa Clara is being examined by the City as an area for likely rezoning to allow for residential development. Called “Tasman East,” the area spans Lafayette Street to the Guadalupe River and Tasman Drive to the Santa Clara Golf and Tennis Club. It’s currently home to businesses such as Alzeta Corporation, Watts Machining, Big Bear Automation, Gateway Precision Inc., Atoptech Inc., as well as some cafes. The process to develop the Tasman East Specific Plan began April this year and a community meeting was held in early June to gain input from local stakeholders.[contextly_sidebar id=”7wJRzxVxij52y5NzUyQbap85QaAkDpwr”]“The purpose is to create a residential neighborhood from an older industrial one,” said John Davidson, project manager for the City of Santa Clara Planning Division. “The area is rich in jobs, and we need to provide more housing to better employ local residents for those jobs.”
The vision of the plan is to create a framework for the development of high density housing close to existing transit and the transitioning of much of the commercial development from industrial to retail. Also incorporated into the plan will be possible amenities to make the area more livable such as connections to the Guadalupe River Trail, the development of community-serving parks and recreational facilities, a bike share program, grocery store, restaurants and public art installations. Consistent with the 2010-2035 General Plan, 10 percent of housing developments will be required to be affordable for new developments.
“The residential will be higher density, multi-family, with up to 100 units per acre. There are developers actively engaged in the specific planning process. About half a dozen developers have started to tie up property,” he explained.
According to Davidson, some of the industrial businesses are interested in remaining in the neighborhood, and a key strategy will be allowing some of the existing uses to continue while also identifying possible interim uses for property owners who would consider switching to retail. One idea for an interim use suggested at the meeting was converting an industrial space into a beer garden.
The plan will also aim to take advantage of already existing transit options and provide greater connectivity to them. The Lick Mill VTA Light Rail Station on Tasman Drive provides service to the Mountain View Caltrain Station while the Great America Station near Lafayette Street and Tasman Drive contains both ACE Rail and Amtrak routes. The ACE Rail corridor is frequently used by corporate shuttles.
There isn’t a proposal to add a BART station that would connect with the Milpitas station that’s being constructed. However, other transportation-oriented improvements to the area could include more frequent service, shuttle route extensions, improved ADA accessibility at stations, added sidewalks and pedestrian crossings. As parking ratios will likely be reduced for future residential developments, planners are hoping that people will move away from owning single occupancy vehicles.
The City is working with architecture and planning firm Perkins & Will to produce a draft of the plan by the end of the year or early 2017, with the whole process expected to be completed by mid-2017. Another meeting to solicit community input in terms of density, vision for parks and connectivity will be held on July 21. To date, public recommendations include having at least 15 acres devoted to open space, attracting local and small businesses to the area and reducing density from 100 to 40 units per acre.
Another northern Santa Clara focus area being evaluated concurrently with Tasman East is the Lawrence Station neighborhood, close to Caltrain, that will have a similar vision.