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

Monday, June 8, 2020

New affordable housing project near Little Portugal

Reed Community Partners is working on an eight-story affordable housing development at the corners of 24th Street and E. Santa Clara Street. This is just a few blocks away from the future BART station at Alum Rock/Five Wounds and is right on the Bus Rapid Transit line that runs between Diridon and Eastridge.

The project will have 91 homes and half are allotted for permanent supportive housing. Based on the render it appears there could be some retail on the ground floor as well, which would be a nice bonus for the area.

Source: aphelion2100 from the San Jose Development Forum, Housing Trust Silicon Valley

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Scott's Seafood reopens in the middle of the COVID crisis

This is the only new restaurant opening that I'm aware of in Downtown San Jose over the past two and a half months. Scott's Seafood, one of Downtown's flagship restaurants, had to close to make way for a major multi-million SQFT development project called CityView Plaza. Thankfully, Scott's has chosen to reopen in a new location Downtown.

On May 21st, they opened for takeout at 200 S. 1st which is at the intersection of Paseo de San Antonio. This is a famous spot that has housed Casa Castillo, Asqew Grill, Zing, Ruffled Feathers Eatery, The Blackbird Tavern, and Social Policy. This corner has had so much turnover, that some believe it to be cursed. If there is one restaurant that can break the curse of Case Castillo, I think it's Scott's Seafood. They have a loyal fan base and will offer a more impressive menu and cocktail selection than any of their predecessors.

Just as exciting as this opening is Scott's plan to expand their brand and build a second restaurant in Downtown San Jose. They are looking to open a takeout soup and salad eatery called Scott's Chowder House which will feature their excellent seafood chowders. We don't have a great casual bread-bowl place in Downtown San Jose, so I can't wait! Meanwhile, please patronize Scott's and your over faves so we can keep as many of our restaurants as possible this year.

Source: SVBJ

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Outdoor dining will finally be allowed again in San Jose!

After two and a half months, finally there will be some relief for struggling restaurants and foodies alike. Starting this Friday, in Santa Clara County you will be able to dine at a restaurant--albeit outside. With summer weather on the way, there are many great spots in Santana Row, Downtown San Jose, and Willow Glen where you will be able to have a stellar dining experience even with the restrictions (social distancing measures still in place). I'm looking forward to seeing which restaurants will open up first.

Also allowed this Friday will be in-store shopping with face masks, childcare for all kids in stable groups of up to 12, all manufacturing as long as social distancing measures are in place, low contact services, and all pet grooming. Small outdoor ceremonies and religious services will be allowed for groups up to 25. Finally, all outdoor recreational activities that do not involve physical contact will reopen including swimming pools, hiking, tennis, golf, camping, etc.

We are slowly heading back towards some normalcy. I personally can't wait to have a meal and a cocktail again at a nice restaurant!

Source: SVBJ, Santa Clara Public Health

Monday, June 1, 2020

Downtown San Jose's Farmer's Market opens this Friday, June 5th

One of the benefits of working from home and having more flexibility with your schedule is the opportunity to get out to places and events that normally would be constrained by your day job. There is an excellent Farmer's Market in San Pedro Square that kicks off this Friday from 10am to 2pm and continues every following week until at least November 6th December 18th [yay!].

Of course, social distancing measures will be in place. You can see the list of COVID19 restrictions over here. The Downtown San Jose Farmer's Market includes California fruits and vegetable, flowers, gourmet foods, crafts, and clothing. For more information, the full press release is below.

SAN JOSE - After a month’s delay, the Downtown San Jose Farmers’ Market presented by Kaiser Permanente will return to San Pedro Street for its 28th season starting June 5.

“We made the decision to open the market in June because Farmers’ Markets are considered an essential service,” said Bree Von Faith, San Jose Downtown Association managing director.  “We will have social distancing and other tactics in place to ensure that everyone stays safe and healthy.”

In San Jose’s central area, only the market in the Rose Garden district has remained open during the COVID-19 outbreak.  Many people in the central part of San Jose rely on farmers’ markets for fresh-picked California fruits and vegetables.

Through Dec. 18, the Downtown Farmer’s Market, supported by Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association, will be open Fridays 10 a.m.-2 p.m. along San Pedro Street between Santa Clara and St. John streets.

Under the best conditions, the market includes fresh produce from California growers, fresh cut flowers, special gourmet foods and artisan booths full of clothing and crafts. 
Some modifications will occur due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.  During the shelter-in-place order, the market will be limited to agricultural products only, operate with social distancing measures; booths will be separated and hand-washing stations will be pervasive.  Customers must wear masks and keep their distance.
“The great thing about farmers’ markets at this time is that we’ve simplified the food chain,” Von Faith added.  “These are California growers selling directly to consumers.”
Artisan booths will not be added to the market until further notice.
The Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association (PCFMA) recruits up to 20 farmers and the San Jose Downtown Association oversees the street closures. The partnership dates back to spring 1993, when the market was originally located at First and San Fernando streets.
Admission is free. And while shelter in place in order, parking in the Market-San Pedro Garage is also free.

For more information, and a complete list of market changes to keep everyone healthy and comfortable, check PCFMA.org,  pcfma.org/pcfma-coronavirus/the @PCFMA Facebook page and sjdowntown.com

The market will continue each week into November and could be extended into December this season.
This is the tenth year that Kaiser Permanente has teamed with the Downtown Association and PCFMA to serve as presenting sponsor of the market, educating attendees on healthful and “green” living that allow each individual to thrive.
Follow the Downtown Farmers’ Market on Twitter (@SJ_Downtown) and Facebook (/sjdowntown and /DowntownFarmers’Market).  The market website is sjdowntown.com/farmers-market-presented-by-kaiser-permanente/

Call (408) 279-1775 for information.

About the San Jose Downtown Association:  The San Jose Downtown Association is a non-profit group of business and property owners working to improve the vitality and livability of downtown San Jose.  Established in 1986, SJDA programs more than 100 days of events each year.

Downtown San Jose Farmers’ Market, presented by Kaiser Permanente

Find the season's freshest fruits and vegetables, cut flowers, and gourmet treats from local certified growers and purveyors of fine food, plus unique gifts from local artisans, at the Downtown Farmers' Market, now in its 28th season.

When:  Every Friday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
         June 5 – Dec. 18, (no Market July 3)
Where:  The Downtown Farmers’ Market is located on San Pedro
          Street in San Jose, between St. John and Santa Clara streets
Admission:  The Market is free and open to the public
Attendance:  Weekly attendance in past seasons averages approximately 1,500
Audience:  While in shelter in place:  essential services workers and local residents. SIP Lifted:  Downtown office workers, out-of-town visitors, residents and possibly San Jose State University students and faculty

Event Producers:  The San Jose Downtown Association (SJDA), a local nonprofit business association, in partnership with Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association (PCFMA)
Seasonal produce:  Starting in June, find blackberries, boysenberries, melons, apricots, blueberries, cantaloupes, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, prunes and raspberries.  Year-round produce also available.

Sponsors/partners:  Kaiser Permanente is in its 10th year as presenting sponsor.

Phone:  (408) 279-1775