SAN JOSE, Calif., — Even while the coronavirus pandemic was stifling the economy, halting business and forcing work and learning from home, Urban Catalyst, an Opportunity Zone Fund focused on ground-up development projects in Silicon Valley, has continued its aggressive path to develop key projects in downtown San Jose.
“Opportunity zones are the key to activating communities, like downtown San Jose, which has great potential to be a thriving work-live-play environment,” said Erik Hayden, Founder of Urban Catalyst. “As our nation’s priorities change, investors are shifting focus, seeking to put their money to work in vehicles that offer more stability than stocks and less hassle than rental properties. Our OZ projects are garnering strong interest from investors because they offer two types of returns. In addition to the financial incentive, these projects also will transform downtown San Jose into a thriving center that ties residential, retail, small business, commercial and educational facilities together with public transportation.”
Urban Catalyst has continued to meet its fundraising goals to create a more vital downtown San Jose. With seven planned projects underway, Urban Catalyst projects stand to:
- Inject more than $850 million directly into the City of San Jose
- Add 900 residential units, 150 senior assisted living and memory care units, and 175 extended stay hotel units to the downtown area, including housing for more than 700 students.
- Increase downtown office space by 275,000 square feet, and ground floor retail by 50,000 square feet
Urban Catalyst is getting noticed for the impact it is making. On the heels of being named a top 10 national OZ fund in the Forbes OZ 20 list in December 2019, Hayden was recently recognized as one of the Top 25 OZ Influencers by Opportunity Zone Magazine.
The fund is making significant project development progress. In June, Urban Catalyst submitted permit packages for four projects focused on senior and student housing, as well as office and retail space:
- Delmas, a senior living project featuring 117 assisted living units and 50 memory care units
- Madera, a 157-unit multifamily building in downtown San Jose located near the Diridon Station
- The Mark, a 222-unit student housing project located a half block from the San Jose State University
- Paseo, a transit-friendly, mixed-used complex featuring office space and ground floor retail
“We have long recognized the potential of downtown San Jose, and that’s why, in 2017, we decided to focus all of our projects in the core downtown area,” added Hayden. “Here in San Jose, we have a supportive Planning Department that goes out of its way to accommodate developers. The city’s 300 staffers swiftly pivoted to an online workflow to keep important projects moving forward during shelter-in-place. The impact: The Urban Catalyst Fund has been able to stay on track and submit four site development packages in June.”
Singular Focus on Downtown San Jose
Urban Catalyst has maintained its focus on the downtown San Jose Opportunity Zone. Recent reports are now highlighting the staying power of San Jose, even in today’s market, and realizing its value.
Fueled by explosive job growth, the San Francisco Bay Area has by far the largest tech talent workforce in the country, eclipsing the next largest location, the New York metro area, by more than 40% according to recent analysis by CBRE. The region has witnessed 31% growth in the tech talent workforce over the past five years. In San Jose and Santa Clara County, technology workers comprise 54% of the workforce compared to 20% in San Francisco, and account for 70%, or 140 million square feet, of existing office space occupancy.
“Recently both Bloomberg and Moody’s named San Jose as one of the top cities poised to recover quickly from COVID-19’s economic impact,” Hayden said. “Our team looks forward to hastening this recovery through developments that will create walkable communities, offer affordable housing for families, students and the elderly, and provide new restaurant and entertainment options to enliven the city.”
The OZ Working Group and New Hires Add Expertise to Growing Company
Sean Raft, chief administrative officer and partner at Urban Catalyst was selected to be a member of the Novogradac Opportunity Zone Working Group, which advises the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, members of Congress and other federal and state agencies on best practices and practical applications for the Opportunity Zone Program.
Additionally, Urban Catalyst expanded its best-in-class team by hiring Angela S. Hwang as director of Marketing and Communications, Mike Walsh as projects director and Dominic Giacalone as development manager.
About Urban Catalyst
Urban Catalyst Opportunity Fund I LLC (“Urban Catalyst”) is a nationally recognized real estate equity fund focused on ground-up development projects in downtown San Jose. In 2020, Forbes and the Sorenson Impact Center recognized Urban Catalyst as one of the top 10 Opportunity Zone Funds in the inaugural Forbes OZ 20.