Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Transportation Innovation

San Jose Spotlight has a great article discussing how we can solve for our future transportation issues. Eventually traffic will return, in fact this past week I did hit a few spots on 101 that reminded me of the good old pre-covid days. We have BART now, which is fantastic, but going forward we should be looking at faster and cheaper solutions.

In fact, there is a grade separated, point-to-point solution that exists today. The Boring Company Loop. Tunnels can be built at $10 million per mile versus $1 billion per mile for a traditional subway, and autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles can transport you from a station to any other station in the network at up to 150 miles per hour. It sounds too good to be true, but so did electric cars that are affordable and fun to drive and reusable rockets that can land themselves. Also, the Boring Company already has two projects in the works. There is a functional test track in LA that goes from SpaceX headquarters to a residential backyard (no joke) and a Loop in Las Vegas that will connect the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Strip, and the airport.

It's a killer suggestion that would help bring our transportation into the future (it is 2020 after all) while improving safety, convenience, and cost-per-mile. Check out Norman Kline's article over here.

Source: San Jose Spotlight

Monday, June 29, 2020

Urban Catalyst proposes a residential mid-rise by Diridon

Urban Catalyst does not seem to be slowing down one bit when it comes to new development proposals. Their latest endeavor is Madera @ Downtown West, a 157-unit apartment complex near where Google plans to build their San Jose megacampus of up to 8 million SQFT.

Madera will have 49 studios, 14 one-bedroom, 14 two-bedroom, 26 three-bedroom, and 54 four-bedroom apartments. I'm happy to see a large number of studios and 3-4 bedroom units as theses are rare products in the San Jose apartment and condo markets. In fact, I'm quite shocked at there being 54 four-bedroom apartments as there are typically only a couple of these in each Downtown San Jose high-rise building and they are extremely expensive penthouses. This building might actually be family-friendly.

While it is only eight-stories, it is located in a medium density area that still has a large number of single family homes. This will certainly be an upgrade for the block, especially with ground-floor retail. The project is bound by 486-498 W. San Carlos St. and 332-338 Josefa St and it will replace a few small commercial buildings and a vacant house.

Construction could start as early as July 2021 and take two years to complete.

Source: SVBJ

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Downtown refreshed with 10 new student art works

Coronavirus epidemics halts program – but not before receiving 75 submissions

SAN JOSE – San Jose Downtown Foundation art selection committee has chosen 10 new Downtown Doors from 98 art works submitted by area high school students before COVID-19 sent students and teachers home to study for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

The 10 doors will freshen the downtown as businesses reopen and some employees return to work.  Like the judging session, a virtual reception took place over Zoom Thursday, June 18.

“As businesses begin to recover from the COVID-19 virus, we want downtown looking vibrant with art,” said Ramona Snyder, SJDF board president.  “With funding already secured from the City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs, SVCreates and private donors such as Comerica Bank and Ernest and Irene Pestana Chari, we’re moving forward with half of the Downtown Doors program for this fiscal year and plans to proceed with the program when teachers and students are working together again.”

In its 17th year, the number of Downtown Doors in the city’s center has reached 302.  Downtown Doors occupies 110 sites located mostly on busy pedestrian rotes through the downtown core.  Student artworks are digitized onto vinyl coatings that are attached in their full colorful splendor to service doors and utility boxes throughout downtown.

“Downtown Doors provides young artists the opportunity to publicly express themselves,” Snyder added.  “Students of all ethnicities and demographics have been posting their messages of change and hope downtown for 16 years now.”

In past years, Downtown Doors art works have paid tribute to strong women and the courageousness of parent and grandparent immigrants.  Several selections this year – submitted in January and February before pandemic or the call for racial change -- are self-expressions.

“As always, the art selected is amazing,” said Jessica Vuong, program coordinator.  “I can’t wait to see what comes next.”

Program donors and sponsors include:  City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs; Adobe, Comerica Charitable Foundation; Ernest and Irene Pestana Charitable Foundation; and SVCreates, and Councilmember Johnny Khamis.

Site hosts for the 2020 art work includes:  50 West, San Jose State University/Hammer Theatre Center; City of San Jose, Il Fornaio/Westin St. Claire; Fairmont San Jose; and The Studio Climbing Gym.

Art selection Committee: James Morgan of SJSU; Jeannine Flores, Santa Clara County Office of Education; Jeff Bordona, San Jose Museum of Art; Michael Ogilvie, San Jose Director of Public Art; Charlie McCollum, SJDF Trustee; and the Board of Trustees and Downtown Association staff which selected the 10th door today.

The Downtown Doors Class of 2020 includes:

Monday, June 22, 2020

Mezcal makes the best out of a difficult situation

Mezcal, a minority-owned restaurant, can't seem to catch a break. They were already struggling to survive like many restaurants in a post-covid world. Then they were burglarized not once, but twice. The Oaxacan restaurant could have called it quits, but instead they turned their boarded up windows into some of the coolest murals Downtown. The murals were done by local artists from Local Color, a women-led San Jose nonprofit.

The restaurant is now open for outdoor dining and features an assortment of Oaxacan mole sauces and many new items like grilled octopus, a black mole tamale, a ribeye, and a salmon burger. If you're feeling adventurous you can even try grasshoppers (which are surprisingly delicious by the way).

Mezcal is open from noon to 8pm, Tuesday through Sunday, at 25 W San Fernando St.

Source: SVBJ

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Berryessa BART Station

After many years of effort, BART trains are finally flowing in and out of San Jose! Gillynova from the San Jose Development Forum has captured some nice drone video shots of the new station. Check out the short video below for a sneak peak of Berryessa Station.

Monday, June 15, 2020

31-story tower proposed in SoFA

A developer is seeking to build a 358-unit residential tower in Downtown San Jose's artsy SoFA District with a unique twist... the entire tower would be affordable housing. This would be one of the largest affordable housing projects in the Bay Area and would add a significant amount of food traffic Downtown.

The tower would have 190 studio units, 84 one-bedrooms, 28 two-bedrooms, and 56 three-bedroom unites. There would also be a three-story parking structure with 96 parking spaces. That is a surprising number of both studios and three-bedroom units, which are the two unit types that are in shortest supply for residential high-rises Downtown.

It is also worth mentioning that this would be the largest number of stories for any building in San Jose, either built or proposed. Even with low ceilings typical of affordable housing projects, this would likely be the first building in San Jose over 300 feet tall. It will be interesting to see what other details will be uncovered as this project moves forward.

Source: SVBJ

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Unique view of San Jose

Last weekend, cardinal2007 from the San Jose Development Forum took a striking photo of San Jose from Sierra Vista. This is an open space preserve on the northeastern border of San Jose. It's quite a rare sight to see both cattle and Downtown San Jose in the same frame.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

June 2020 Downtown Dimension Highlights

The latest addition of Downtown Dimension is now live. Below is a summary of the content this month.

The JUNE 2020 Downtown Dimension is now available.

In this edition:
  • Downtown businesses are ready to serve their customers in new ways.  When and how questions remain unanswered for now, the Covid-19 danger still exists, and businesses get creative.
  • The virus definitely had an impact on this year's survey of Property-Based Improvement District.  
  • Farmers' Markets are considered essential businesses, so we're opening our Friday market at San Pedro Square each Friday starting June 5.  We have a list of changes to keep everyone safe and healthy at the market.
  • Downtown builders are back to work on a number of downtown projects, with one significant exception.
  • St. James Park and CityView Plaza projects progress.
  • Paper Moon Coffee and Scott's Seafood open.
  • And congratulations to the team at Paper Plane, ranked among the national bartending leaders.  
Another way to stay connected to downtown:

The Downtowner Online continues to be sent out on Wednesdays.  This weekly email features downtown businesses including virtual events and ways to support downtown. Subscribe