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2628-2638 Union Ave

In Design

2628-2638 Union Ave., San Jose, CA 95124

Project Overview

• Project Type: 100% Affordable (Mixed Income)

• Owner/Developer: Maracor Development

• Presented to our members: March 2023

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Catalyze SV evaluates project sustainability, equity, and vibrancy. Learn about our project review process.

2628-2638 Union Ave Project Scorecard
Project Overview:

The project proposes a 6-story building composed of five wood-frame stories over one level of podium. The 220 units proposed will range from studios to three-bedroom homes. This proposal is 100% affordable and will be accessible to those earning between 30% and 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Onsite residential amenities include a children’s play area, a fitness room, a bicycle repair station, and a dog run and wash area. It includes 160 vehicle parking spaces for a 0.73 parking ratio, as well as a secured bicycle room with capacity for cargo bikes. The building meets the City of San Jose’s sustainability standards and will be solar-ready, yet we understand there is no commitment to install panels at this time. With community engagement underway, our members would like to offer the following feedback on the project:

2628-2638 Union Ave scored an overall 3.8 out of 5 from our Project Advocacy Committee members.

Community Score: 3/5

Community Our members were happy to hear engagement has happened through a city-led meeting which was held on February 16, 2023. They also appreciate that the development team has been responsive to some of the neighborhood’s concerns and continues to engage the local council member on this project. Furthermore, we are thankful to Maracor for continuing to bring projects to our Project Advocacy Committee members for friendly feedback and suggestions. That being said, our members believe community engagement has been minimal this far and can be expanded to include traditionally underrepresented voices. Specifically, our members suggest engaging local nonprofit organizations supportive of affordable housing, as well as unions that might construct this project. They also suggest holding family-oriented events to gather project feedback. Just as important, our members want to see continued engagement and dialogue with the existing businesses and retailers and hope Maracor can support them as they transition out.

Vibrancy Score: 4/5

Our members were very impressed with the number and variety of on-site amenities and open space for residents. Among the best-received features: the integration of two courtyards that include family-oriented activities like a children’s playground structure, picnic and seating tables, as well as a dog run and wash area. We also appreciated the inclusion of a clubroom, a fitness center, and an experimental idea of an on-site office meeting place for residents. More importantly, our members place a big emphasis on amenities that also serve the surrounding community. So we are excited to see a community room that will be accessible to the community. One recommendation to increase the vibrancy is to explore making the courtyard with the children's area accessible to the neighborhood. Additionally, some members suggested including an outdoor water fountain or a public mural, as well as to rethink the monotonous color scheme to make it more inviting and family-friendly.

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Transportation Score: 4/5

Our members were happy to see a proposal with a low parking ratio. In its current design, the project proposes 160 residential parking spaces, including electrical vehicle (EV) charging stations. One of the best received features was the integration of a secure bike room with capacity for cargo bikes, as well as a bike repair station accessible to all residents. Yet some members would like to see additional bike parking, and some suggested adding more short-term bike stations. Our members also suggest integrating a designated rideshare area and more short-term parking options, as well as offering free VTA transit passes for residents. We understand the latter is being explored yet there wasn’t a commitment from the development team and the score reflects that.

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Intensity/Zoning Score: 4/5

It’s fantastic to see 220 units in 6-stories on a key site in an area of San Jose desperately needing affordable homes. At 95 homes per acre, this density was welcomed by our members, who wish to see greater efforts to meet our local housing needs. Just as important, we’re excited to see this many homes within walking distance to key resources like pharmacies, grocery stores, and faith-based organizations. Along those lines, our members were excited to see three-bedroom homes on this site less than one mile from schools. Overall, our members support the height and density and wish to see no changes that would reduce it. In fact, our members wondered about Maracor building more homes by taking some parking underground. Going forward, we ask Maracor to strongly consider experimenting with materials like mass timber which can maximize height to meet our housing needs.

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Sustainability Score: 3/5

Our members emphasize buildings that go above and beyond on sustainability. As we understand it, this proposal will meet the City of San Jose’s sustainability standards for new buildings. Although we understand third-party certifications such as LEED or GreenPoint Rated (GPR) can be challenging, there are 2 higher standards for LEED – Gold and Platinum – that we recommend developers pursue. In the absence of those, our members suggest reducing the building’s environmental impact in specific ways. Our biggest suggestion is to install solar panels. Other strategies to achieve greater sustainability include water-efficient appliances, drought-tolerant landscaping, & more electric vehicle (EV) charging station.

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Affordability Score: 5/5

Our members were very happy to see this project as 100% affordable with the capacity to serve individuals and families. As we understand it, the project proposes affordability levels ranging from 30% to 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). This was very well-received by our members who understand we desperately need affordable housing options for those most vulnerable to displacement. Our members wish to see no changes that would increase the AMI levels, yet we are also concerned about the impact on the existing small retailers. Specifically, our members ask for continuous dialogue with the existing tenants and the creation of a transition plan to support them as they move.

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Legacy Score: N/A /5

Members of Catalyze SV didn’t think this category was applicable to this site.

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