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675 East Santa Clara Street

In Design

675 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95112

Project Overview

• Project Type: 100% Affordable

• Owner/Developer: EdenCoreESC, LLC

• Presented to our members: October 2023

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

675 East Santa Clara Street Project Scorecard
Project Overview:

The project site is located on E St John St between N 15th St and N 17th St in San Jose, consisting of 3 publicly funded developments – a 7-story 100% affordable larger-family housing, a 5-story 100% affordable senior housing, and affordable for-sale townhomes. Situated across multiple parcels totaling approximately 2.78 acres, the project will deliver a total of 213 affordable homes. Some of the amenities are courtyards, gardens, a paseo, a dog run, a public plaza, space for providing services to the LGBTQ community, and adaptive reuse of a building for community use, including a gallery. Our members offer the following feedback on the project:

675 East Santa Clara Street scored an overall 3.2 out of 5 from our Project Advocacy Committee members.

Community Score: 3/5

Catalyze SV members echoed the frustration and confusion of our staff in response to the developer's refusal to present the County's project to Catalyze SV members, including numerous neighbors who live blocks from the project. Catalyze SV members are key advocates for affordable housing. This level of apprehension and disregard for our members, not to mention misunderstanding and fear of our process, was shocking and troubling to them. This is especially disconcerting when the project up for discussion is publicly-owned. One member said it struck them as unprofessional. That being said, praise where praise is due: our members were happy to hear the project team has held numerous community meetings and applaud the development team for its informative, extensive documentation of how it integrated its community feedback into the redesign. One member powerfully wrote, “Of all of the projects I've seen over the years, this one is the best as far as a positive design evolution and explanation of the revisions in a table.” Our members also praised the project website with answers to frequently asked questions. However, the website contains contradictory information about AMI levels, with different figures in three separate places. One member noted that the community meetings were not well attended. Overall, while there is appreciation for certain aspects of the community engagement efforts, there are also concerns about transparency, meeting attendance, and the development team’s refusal to meet with Catalyze SV members, who live in this community and have as much right as any other community member to participate in the process. Why have a valuable website and display changes to the design over time if you’re not willing to share your work directly with the community?

Vibrancy Score: 3/5

Our members highly value the vibrant and community-oriented design of the project. Among the best-received features: adaptive reuse of Building 800 with the addition of a plaza and adaptable community spaces. Our members appreciate the amenities and courtyards designed for residents. However, there are concerns about the availability of amenities for the broader community, with suggestions to activate community spaces and the LGBTQ office space to make them more vibrant and inclusive. There is a shared desire among our members to see more pedestrian-friendly features like coffee facilities or cafes to encourage community gatherings. While some members appreciate the effort to create a non-commercial, vibrant ground-floor experience, including the art gallery and murals, there's a call for activation of plazas and a desire for more business-oriented spaces. The large parking lots detract from vibrancy, and there are questions about their impact on temperature and use of permeable materials and landscaping. Moreover, single-uses like townhomes contribute little to vibrancy. Overall, our members value the art murals, plazas, and the LGBTQ office but express concerns about the project's connection with the context and its potential for vibrancy and community interaction at large.

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Transportation Score: 4/5

Our members are pleased with the proposed project's proximity to transit service. Our members would like to see this project reduce the number of vehicle parking spaces provided so there is more room for homes and not cars. It is especially important given the proximity to future BART stations & VTA’s bus lines. We encourage using parking stackers because of their efficiency. There were also questions about safety – and vibrancy – for pedestrians walking down a paseo that was adjacent to a big parking lot. Our members suggest providing VTA transit passes to residents. Overall, members appreciate the transit access but are critical of the amount of parking. We advocate for more transit-oriented options and greater support for alternative transportation, prioritizing unbundled parking, transit passes, and robust bike storage to encourage sustainable transportation choices.

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Intensity/Zoning Score: 2/5

Our members advocate for higher density because we want to see the highest number of homes built, which makes the biggest impact on solving our region’s crippling housing crisis. The project's proposal to construct a 7-story 100% affordable larger-family housing, a 5-story 100% affordable senior housing, and affordable for-sale townhomes garnered a mix of opinions from our members. One building was praised as dense enough, one was liked yet seen as able to add 1-2 more stories, and the final was roundly rejected as insufficient intensity for this location at this time. On one hand, members were very pleased to see the 7-story, intensely-zoned large family housing development situated close to transit access. They also liked the senior housing site yet believed it could painlessly add more homes by going up two more stories. Conversely, our members resoundingly panned for-sale townhomes in the middle of Downtown San Jose next to major transit. The City of San Jose only built 26% of the affordable housing it needed over the last eight years; at a lower density, townhomes don’t do near enough to make up that deficit. It’s a missed opportunity. And it’s a “Twilight Zone” moment when a community group has to remind the public agency charged with building more affordable housing, to more fully achieve its mission. If the County wants to build townhomes for sale, our members suggest it do so at a location farther from the Downtown core with more limited transit service. Our members recommend the townhomes be replaced with one or more multi-family buildings because the location is extremely suitable for a much higher-density project. Our members were open to those being affordable homes for rent or for sale. Overall, Catalyze SV members want the townhomes to be swapped out and replaced by a great density affordable housing product. Our region’s housing crisis is in large part a math problem, and we don’t solve it if we stop counting.

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Sustainability Score: 3/5

This was another category where the developer could have helped our members understand the project by simply addressing our priorities. Instead, we cobbled together what information we could from the project website, which wasn’t extensive on the sustainability question. Our members score projects highest that go above and beyond on sustainability. We assume this project would pursue LEED Silver certification, per San Jose’s standards. There are 2 higher standards for LEED – Gold and Platinum – that we recommend developers pursue. Overall, our members are looking for more details on the project's sustainability features, with many expressly advocating for LEED Gold or higher. There is a strong emphasis on sustainability, particularly in terms of energy use, urban forestry, and innovative design solutions.

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Affordability Score: 4/5

Our members are staunch supporters of 100% affordable housing residential projects. We appreciate the inclusion of senior housing in this proposal and applaud seeing homes that are inviting for the LGBTQ community. Eden Housing in particular is to be commended for this aspect of the plan. However, some of our members would like further clarification regarding the variability in Area Median Income (AMI) restrictions for the townhomes because they noticed differing figures in three separate places of the project’s public communications. Our members raised questions about whether the project can truly provide affordable housing for a wide range of income levels if AMI levels are above 80% for certain aspects of the project like townhomes. Overall, our members appreciate the project's commitment to affordability and senior housing but have concerns and questions about the specific AMI levels and funding sources that will dictate the final affordability of the project.

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Legacy Score: N/A /5

The majority of our members didn’t think this category was applicable to this site. However, the project's efforts to preserve one existing building, being designed for adaptive reuse into community space, is appreciated.

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