Thursday, February 29, 2024

Urban Putt, a love letter to San Jose's past, present, and future

With anticipation building for over a year, I thought there was no way that Urban Putt could possibly live up to the expectations in my head. I was wrong. Best. Minigolf. Course. Ever.

You walk through a very subtle entrance at 201 S. Seconds St., right next to Scott's Seafood. As soon as you walk in you are immediately transported to another planet. If Urban Putt was a standalone bar, it would already be one of the best ones in San Jose. Specialty drinks include The Winchester Old Fashioned with a smoke bubble, 10th Street Penicillin using local San Jose-made whiskey, Steve's Espresso Martini (pictured below), and a fruity Happy Accident which you wear around your neck and take with you as you golf.

For food, I just sampled a small number of their menu items at the media preview night but have plans to return this weekend for "more thorough research." The Pad Thai pizza was super tasty, as was the street corn salsa and Bavarian Pretzel with locally produced IPA mustard. I'm looking forward to trying their OMG Burger, which is a smash-burger on Texas toast with avocado and a fried egg.

Okay now for the best part. The golf course is incredible. It puts any other course I have ever done to shame in terms of creativity, engineering, and localization. It starts with an homage to Downtown San Jose and then blends innovation with nostalgia. I don't even want to show all the photos so that you get to experience some surprises while you're there. 

Some of the holes are actually races with your party of up to 4 people, including a game of labyrinth. One is a real-life game of Duck Hunt. Another is inside of the Winchester Mystery House. There's a shark, a downed UFO, a replica of the San Jose Electric Light Tower, a submarine, and a finale worthy of Silicon Valley. Some of the holes even have hidden tricks and easter eggs, including some trippy optical illusions and effects with vacuum tubes.

If there was ever a time to run out and support a new local business, this is it. I already have my next two trips lined up. Urban Putt officially opens to the public today at 4pm. After 8pm it will be 21+ only.

This has immediately become my top destination to take people from out of town. What a way to start 2024!

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Urban Putt teaser

Tomorrow I'll have a full writeup, but for now here are a few teaser images to prove that Urban Putt is real. The summary is: this is the coolest place to open in Downtown San Jose since the San Pedro Square Market. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Latest news (and video) on Urban Putt - grand opening is later this week!

I know I'm promoting Urban Putt quite a bit, but I truly believe it is one of the most significant new businesses that I can remember in Downtown San Jose. 

Every one of the holes in the indoor golf course is unique, hand-built, and essentially a tribute to San Jose. Yes, they even have a replica electrical light tower inside the building. The level of craftmanship is off the charts.

For a quick preview of several holes, there is a 4 minute video by NBC Bay Area here.

The Silicon Valley Business Journal also has a story up with 13 photos.

Last but not least, the Mercury News has their own article here.

I'll get a chance to preview it first-hand at the media preview tonight. I can't wait and am already planning my second and third visits.

The official grand opening is Thursday, Feb 29th and Urban Putt is located at 201 S. Second St. in the former Camera 12 building. Scott's Seafood is next door.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Urban Vibrancy Institute partners will be hosting more Downtown San Jose block parties in 2024

The 2023 block parties in Downtown San Jose were a lot of fun and highlighted underutilized neighborhoods. Some like Fountain Alley have a number of new restaurants worth checking out.

Now the Urban Vibrancy Institute is partnering with San Jose Live and Tailored By Design to expand its block party series in 2024. There will be a total of six events featuring all of the neighborhoods highlighted in 2023 and two new ones. The original events were in Fountain Alley, SoFA, San Pedro Square, and Little Italy. The new locations are Paseo de San Antonio and City Hall.

The Urban Vibrancy Institute's goal is to make San Jose the safest, cleanest, and most vibrant Downtown. Amen to that.

Specific objectives include increasing: pedestrian traffic to the Downtown core by 20%, awareness of amenities to residents, sales by 25-50% for local retailers and restaurants, and visitors' perception of safety.

Each event last year drew around 1,500 people and sales of highlighted businesses improved 20-35% from the previous week.

The first event of 2024 is tentatively scheduled for April 18th near City Hall.

Source: SVBJ

Sunday, February 25, 2024

The VTA is getting their first batch of new hybrid buses

While metro and rail line extensions are very exciting, they also now cost billions of dollars these days. If you look at the amount of value per dollar in public transit, it is still very tough to beat investing in buses. 

The VTA ordered up 92 "state-of-the-art" hybrid buses that cost $822k each. The buses can operate in all-electric mode for up to 10 miles and improve fuel economy by up to 25% over the old diesel buses they are replacing. Each bus has a 36-passenger seat layout with USB mobile charging ports and wireless stop request buttons.

The first two buses have already arrived and the VTA is now expecting six new buses each week.

Source: San Jose Inside


Saturday, February 24, 2024

New proposal for a Midtown San Jose Hyatt Place

We have some new renders for a six-story Hyatt Place in Midtown, just a few minutes by car or bus to Downtown San Jose. It appears to replace a parking lot and single-story building at 1470 W. San Carlos Street.

The design actually looks really nice for a midrise building. It's nice to see some color being used besides beige and gray. Given it's location and brand, this will likely be a moderately priced option for San Jose visitors.

With the Signia's second tower converting hotel rooms to student housing, we need all the rooms we can get close to Downtown San Jose for conventions and to support major events (Super Bowl, World Cup, etc.). 

Source: Silicon Valley Joe from Skyscraper City

Friday, February 23, 2024

Has Google forgotten about Downtown San Jose?

The short answer is... no.

If Google had no plans to execute on their vision for Downtown West near Diridon, they would have immediately halted all work on their real estate holdings in San Jose. Instead, they are still making small updates and preparations. For example, a former Orchard Supply Hardware at 720 West San Carlos is being bulldozed over the next couple months to make way for future construction.

The eventual goal is to build 7.3 million SQFT of office space, 4,000 residential units, 500k SQFT of retail, 300 hotel rooms, and 15 acres of open space in Downtown West. Google wants to employ as many as 20,000 workers in San Jose.

Source: The Mercury News

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Thousands of homes proposed at site of the former Pleasant Hills Golf Course

There are 114 acres of prime real estate that have been idly sitting around for the past twenty years in East San Jose. The former site of Pleasant Hills Golf Course at the corner of South White Road and Tully Road could become up to 3,991 residences.

Lakeside Community real estate ventures are proposing rezoning and redeveloping the land. They received positive support from the local community for the project, which would provide significant benefits to the local economy in the area.

Given the massive size, hopefully it will be designed as a mixed-use development with a mix of restaurants, retail, and entertainment. However, even if it is pure housing it would help address our supply problems--especially considering that some form of affordable housing is a given in a project this large in San Jose.

Source: The Mercury News