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Capitol Station TOD

In Design

VTA Capitol Station

Project Overview

• Project Type: 100% Affordable

• Owner/Developer: MidPen Housing

• Presented to our members: November 2023

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

Capitol Station TOD Project Scorecard
Project Overview:

MidPen Housing, in partnership with Santa Clara Valley Transportation Agency (VTA), aims to create an Emerging Urban District Mobility Hub by repurposing the existing surface parking into a vibrant, walkable, bikeable, sustainable, and transit-oriented mixed-use development that increases ridership while complementing and improving the surrounding community. The proposal delivers a total of 203 affordable rental homes for families earning 30 - 60% of Area Median Income (AMI), a community serving space, and improved multi-modal access with safer dedicated bicycle and pedestrian paths and secured bicycle storage.

Capitol Station TOD scored an overall 4.14 out of 5 from our Project Advocacy Committee members.

Community Score: 4/5

Our members appreciate the current outreach initiatives, particularly the targeted stakeholder meeting with the nearby mobile home community, highlighting an approach inclusive of the communities in the surrounding area. However, members would like to see broader and deeper community engagement. Specifically, given the project's proximity to transit, we want to emphasize the importance of incorporating feedback from transit riders. Understanding the needs and perspectives of transit users is crucial for the project's success. The committee also suggests conducting more thorough outreach among potential future residents, focusing on obtaining feedback on the best use of community space. Whether it is a retail or community room, it should reflect the desires of those who live there. While the outreach initiatives undertaken so far are positive, our members emphasize the necessity of continuing these efforts as the project develops. Catalyze SV encourages a sustained, comprehensive engagement strategy that includes diverse potential resident groups, such as people with disabilities.

Vibrancy Score: 3/5

Our members appreciate certain aspects of the project's design, including outdoor community spaces, bike paths, and 5,000 square feet of activated ground floor space. Many members raised questions about the proposed community room regarding its safety and accessibility. We suggest retail is the better use of that space. Members emphasize the need for retail that caters to the daily needs of new residents, existing residents, and transit riders, with a grocer, cafe or corner store being the most popular ideas. The site also requires proper noise reduction strategies, such as sound walls and trees, which are vital for decreasing the noise produced by the adjacent major streets and Highway 87 . Overall, our members desire a more holistic approach to vibrancy. We appreciate elements like, wide sidewalks, community gardens, and rooftop activation This includes a shift in focus towards retail, enhanced green spaces, and thoughtful urban design to foster a safe, accessible, and aesthetically pleasing environment for residents and the surrounding community.

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Transportation Score: 5/5

There are few sites as transit-oriented as this one. Our members strongly appreciate the transportation initiatives in MidPen’s proposal, particularly highlighting the inclusion of VTA SmartPasses as a significant benefit for residents of the project. The proximity to transit facilities, including the light rail station and transit plaza, is a substantial advantage of the project. With such robust access to high-quality transit amenities, our members suggest reducing the parking ratio from 0.5 to 0.3. This approach aligns with broader environmental goals to decrease vehicular traffic and promote sustainable modes of transportation. Additionally, the pedestrian and bike paths should be separated to ensure safety and efficiency for both transit modes. A multi-modal trail brings commuting cyclists and pedestrians into unnecessary conflict.

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Intensity/Zoning Score: 4/5

While generally satisfied with the project's current intensity, our members encourage exploring possibilities for higher density. Specifically, there's an interest in seeing the south structure, and possibly both buildings, feature more homes by increasing their height. In fact, we’d like to see VTA and MidPen at least replicate the 10 stories that Affirmed Housing is building at VTA’s Berryessa Transit Center. Catalyze SV and VTA have both toured a mass timber site in Oakland that is 19 stories, so we urge VTA to begin working with developments that use this material if it can maximize heights and hold down costs.

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Sustainability Score: 4/5

Our members are pleased with the sustainability measures proposed for this project, particularly acknowledging the pursuit of GreenPoint Gold certification as a significant step in the right direction. The inclusion of solar panels and the decision to make the building all-electric are also highly commendable. Using drought-tolerant and native plants for the landscaping and irrigation system is a thoughtful approach to sustainability, especially in the context of the local climate. There is, however, a desire for more extensive green spaces. Our members suggest that, given the availability of open space, there should be a greater emphasis on integrating natural elements like trees and community gardens. Specific recommendations include ensuring the planting of heritage trees and incorporating sufficient greenery to mitigate noise pollution from nearby highways. This is essential for creating a healthy and pleasant environment.

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Affordability Score: 6/5

Our members are exceptionally impressed with the project’s affordability, awarding it a perfect score of 5 out of 5. The commitment to 100% affordable housing with AMI levels ranging from 30-60%, is highly commendable. This approach effectively caters to a diverse group of lower-income residents. Members express strong approval of the project's affordability features and consider it an exemplary implementation of a project under SB 35.

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Legacy Score: N/A /5

Most of our members feel this category did not apply to this site.

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