By Meghan Hall
As the Bay Area’s premier technology companies expand their presence beyond the immediate Silicon Valley area, developers are rushing to snap up space in the areas surrounding tech company expansion projects. In San José, the phenomenon has been dubbed the “Google Effect.” While downtown San José is already a hot market for development, the increasing presence of technology companies has increased the need for residential developments, such as the 249-unit 715 West Julian project.
“It is difficult to say exactly how much the “Google Effect” has had, but clearly there is a high demand for housing in and around Diridon [Station], which is right where Google is assembling properties,” admitted Patrick Kelly, a supervising planner with the City of San José. “We believe Google is one of the major driving factors for all of the proposed residential, office and commercial development being proposed and built in this area.”
715 West Julian is located within close proximity to one of Google’s proposed villages within the City’s “Innovation District” and is within walking distance dozens of Bay Area technology companies. Other major employers, such as Ernst & Young, DeLoitte and WeWork call downtown San José home.
The project would demolish the existing five buildings on the 1.22 acre site and construct a seven story building with two sub-grade parking levels. The ground level will be comprised of 26,585 square feet of commercial and or retail space, in addition to the residential lobby, leasing office and additional parking. The remaining floors—levels two through seven—are planned for the building’s apartments. The development will total 272,000 square feet. The property is owned by Santa Cruz-based Speno Enterprises.
Like many developments, the project includes several amenities for its residents. A courtyard is planned for the second level and will contain a pool and other outdoor amenities. An indoor amenity space is also proposed for the second floor, although its specific use has not yet been determined. Additional outdoor for residential use will be found on the rooftop deck, which will measure 372 square feet, and on the ground floor, where a yard measuring 2,770 square feet will be located on the northwest side of the site. A public plaza located at the southeast corner near the junction of Stockton Avenue and Julian Street is also part of the plans.
According to Kelly, the project is well-designed and fits in well with the City’s planned vision for downtown San José.
“The 715 West Julian project is right up there among the best-designed projects of its type in the area, meaning high density residential development combined with ground-floor, sidewalk-oriented retail commercial space,” explained Kelly.
City officials hope that the development will, in conjunction other nearby developments, support Diridon Station as a major transit center within the Bay Area. 715 West Julian is just one of several Urban Village-type developments currently in the pipeline; a seven story, 164-unit development with 37,500 square feet of commercial space is currently under construction at 120 and 138 Stockton Avenue. A second project, which is similar in size to the first with 168 proposed units and 23,000 square feet of commercial space, is planned for a lot just north of The Alameda. Both projects provide what the City classifies as high-density, transit-oriented housing.
The proposed project also includes sidewalk upgrades, sidewalk improvements and landscaping to improve the pedestrian experience and encourage active retail space as consumers make their way toward The Alameda.
The project is designed by Oakland-based TCA Architects.
According to Kelly, the project is moving through the planning process quickly. The Planning Commission will review the proposal on September 26th, after which it will be reviewed at a City Council hearing on October 27th. The project still must go through a Building Code Plan Check before a formal permit will be issued.
Kelly, however, is confident the project will move forward. “The Planning Division is recommending the Planning Commission recommend approval of the project to the City Council, because it meets the key criteria for the Diridon Station Area Plan,” he said. “We therefore believe it is likely the City Council will approve the project.”