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380 North First Street

In Design

380 N First St, San Jose, CA 95112

Project Overview

• Project Type: Market-rate Housing

• Owner/Developer: MSASA Properties LLC; Erik Schoennauer

• Presented to our members: September 2023

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

380 North First Street Project Scorecard
Project Overview:

The project site is 0.49-acres. The project proposes a new 7-story apartment building with 118 rental units and 74 garage car parking stalls to replace an existing office building and a surface parking lot beside it. Within one quarter mile distance to the Japantown/Ayer light rail station, bus lines, and two public parks (Ryland and St. James), this project provides pedestrian-friendly connectivity to public transit, recreation open spaces, and Downtown San Jose. Proposed amenities for residents include a ground floor bike cafe, third floor deck, and a club room and roof deck located on the sixth floor. Our members offer the following feedback on the project:

380 North First Street scored an overall 3.5 out of 5 from our Project Advocacy Committee members.

Community Score: 3/5

As we understand it, there was one city-led community meeting on this proposal held in September 2023. Our members thank the developer for their community engagement efforts. While the applicant is currently meeting the city standards, it is essential that they provide further opportunities for community input. We encourage the applicant to go above and beyond the minimum required meetings with the City and proactively schedule additional meetings to incorporate a more extensive range of community feedback. A perfect question to pose to the community would be how to activate the building and make it a community asset.

Vibrancy Score: 3/5

Our members value the design of a project like this one that provides valuable amenities for the residents who will live in the project. Among the best-received features was the rooftop activation taking advantage of our local weather. Our members acknowledge the positive aspects of increased density for local businesses simply from the homes proposed here but recommend considering ways to make the building more outward-facing. Ideas include: a parklet or space for children, a larger sidewalk facing Bassett Street, and adding benches to create a more park-like atmosphere. Some of our members had concerns about the parking wall facing the street, with a preference for greenery, and a suggestion for adding an overhang to provide shade and rain cover, enhancing the building's connection to the neighborhood. Members also note the lack of neighborhood amenities and suggest opening up the pet wash area into a business for neighbors while offering it as a free amenity for residents. Overall, our members recommend a more active street front and greater openness to the community.


Transportation Score: 4/5

Our members appreciate this proposal’s proximity to various bus and rail transport options. As we understand, the current design includes 74 residential parking spaces and 30 bike parking spaces. Our members largely support a lower parking ratio like 0.63 for this project. While our members generally support the lower parking ratio for cars, they advocate for a higher ratio of bike parking. We emphasize the need for a more significant focus on bicycle transportation, particularly given the increasing popularity of e-bikes and larger bikes. We believe the development could "lead" with bike friendly accessibility, especially with ebikes. Additionally, our members express a strong preference for providing transit passes along with having transit information in the lobby. Overall, our members prioritize unbundled parking, transit passes, and robust bike storage to encourage sustainable transportation choices.


Intensity/Zoning Score: 4/5

The project's proposal to construct a 7-story building with 118 homes on 0.49-acres site garnered positive feedback from our members. We are pleased to see this intensely zoned development situated close to transit access. However, our members expressed a desire for the project to have greater height with a narrower footprint, which could potentially leave more room for open space or additional amenities. Since the developer’s representative didn’t seem familiar with examples of mass timber projects in the Bay Area, we recommend the developer look closer at mass timber as a means for achieving higher densities. Underlining the significance of addressing local housing requirements and the need for more homes, our members voiced their preference for, at the very least, maintaining the existing height and density without making any reductions.


Sustainability Score: N/A/5

Our members emphasize buildings that go above and beyond on sustainability. As we understand, this project is still in its initial stage. Our members need more clarification on the project’s sustainable elements to assess this category.


Affordability Score: 3/5

Our members are staunch supporters of including on-site affordable housing in residential projects. We’re grateful the project's proposal designates 15% of the units on-site as affordable housing and doesn’t opt for the in-lieu fee. While the project meets the minimum standards, our members express a desire for more affordable housing because even affordable housing at 100% of the median income in this Valley is incredibly expensive . The bedroom mix was also well received by our members. Overall, our members value the inclusion of affordable housing but encourage an increase in both quantity (say 20%) and extent (lower AMI levels) of affordable housing.


Legacy Score: 4 /5

Our members expressed a positive response about the brick facade and design of the building, particularly appreciating its nod to nearby historic architecture. Additionally, we liked the concept of maintaining the building's elevation and material language. However, one of the members also raised a concern about the cultural or historic significance of a nearby mural and its potential impact on accessibility and visibility due to the development, suggesting the need to preserve its legacy or story if it is important to a particular group involved in its development.

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