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675 East Santa Clara

In Review

675 East Santa Clara Street, San Jose, CA 95112

Project Overview

• Project Type: Affordable Housing + Retail

• Owner/Developer: Santa Clara County Housing Authority

• Presented to our members: November 2020

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

675 East Santa Clara Project Scorecard
Project Overview:

675 East Santa Clara by Santa Clara County Housing Authority includes 471 affordable homes, 115,000 sq ft of commercial space & 31,000 sq ft of plazas & open space. The residential units include a mix of affordable senior housing & affordable homes for families. The development sits on two abandoned lots covering 5.3 acres & is part of the East Santa Clara Master Plan area being jointly developed by the County of Santa Clara County & SCCHA. SCCHA’s development will have 276 residential & 311 commercial parking spaces and is located next to frequent VTA bus service including lines 22, 23, Rapid 522, & Rapid 523. Project Update: Santa Clara County Housing Authority has decided to not move forward with the office development and will instead add additional affordable senior housing. The updated development will have 660 affordable homes, 5,500 sq ft of retail and 335 parking spaces, while keep the plaza and adding a second paseo.

675 East Santa Clara scored an overall 4 out of 5 from our Project Advocacy Committee members.

Community Score: 5/5

Santa Clara County Housing Authority (SCCHA) has done an excellent job in reaching out & listening to the community through its inclusiveness, events, & responding to community feedback. We were impressed to see SCCHA cater to the diversity of the neighborhood with trilingual engagement. The current design clearly incorporates feedback from Catalyze SV’s May 2019 letter and the broader community. SCCHA’s April 2020 community engagement report adds transparency to the process. Finally, we believe the SCCHA did an excellent job of pivoting to virtual community engagement with videos, surveys, & online meetings because of COVID-19.

Vibrancy Score: 2/5

We appreciate the vibrancy & greenery that the paseo & plaza will provide, & are excited about green-stairs to promote health. Yet it’s worth noting that the project scored much lower on this category than any other. That’s because we have major concerns about the street facing parts of the project & the potential for the retail on East Santa Clara Street to instead remain an empty lot. We are also concerned with the interface on St. John and 14th Streets & believe that additional retail or neighborhood commercial space would improve this connection. Our main concern is if 675 East Santa Clara moves forward with an empty lot on East Santa Clara & no retail or commercial space. Great developments are mixed-use & thus better enable human interaction through active ground floors. We encourage SCCHA to explore ways of developing the site to include the East Santa Clara plot with ample retail & neighborhood-serving commercial.


Transportation Score: 4/5

Located in a bikeable neighborhood near the heart of downtown with frequent bus service, 675 East Santa can offer homes that reduce the need for a car. SCCHA is exploring Transportation Network Company (TNC) measures including shuttle service - we support any efforts to provide alternative means of transportation. We encourage SCCHA to explore adding designated pick-up/drop-off locations to further prioritize car-free living. Providing frequent express bus service between Downtown San Jose, Diridon Station, BART, & the jobs-rich El Camino Real and Stevens Creek corridors, VTA’s Smart Passes ($82.50 a year per resident) are an ideal transportation demand management measure. The bicycle and pedestrian paseo is a great part of the project. We hope SCCHA can work with the City to ensure additional investments are made in quality bike infrastructure in the neighborhood. While we understand that the bike parking is still being designed, we’d prefer the project to include at least one secure space per unit in a convenient ground floor location.


Intensity/Zoning Score: 4/5

We appreciate the number of homes that are being planned for this site, as well as the explanation of the density & cost trade-offs that may limit building to the maximum height. We have real concerns about how this site will relate with the County’s land & what happens if these areas remain undeveloped. Since the office development on East Santa Clara Street seems unlikely, we’d like to see this front-facing lot developed to the max height & density allowed, either as primarily affordable housing, or as housing or office by a private developer. For commercial requirements & viability, we wonder if 1st floor retail & 2nd floor neighborhood commercial below high-density housing could attract people. Parking stackers could also be utilized to help open up more space to podium commercial.


Sustainability Score: 4/5

With a commitment to GreenPoint Rated Gold & working toward zero-net energy, 675 East Santa Clara Street performs strongly in this category. We strongly encourage SCCHA to maximize rooftop solar & strive even further towards GreenPoint Rated Platinum if possible. Our members are concerned that there might not be enough EV charging stations & encourage SCCHA to go beyond what is required in San Jose.


Affordability Score: 5/5

Our members are excited to see 675 East Santa Clara Street provide homes for vulnerable populations and those most in need. With a focus on extremely & very low-income residents, SCCHA will provide stable housing to those struggling most with high housing costs; permanent supportive housing will play a critical role in improving the lives of formerly homeless residents. With a mix of senior & family housing that includes a number of 2 & 3-bedroom units, 675 East Santa Clara is creating a multi-generational community that will be an asset to the neighborhood. SCCHA could also explore veteran’s affordable housing as another vulnerable population in need.


Legacy Score: N/A /5

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

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