610 East Santa Clara
610-650 E Santa Clara St., San Jose, CA 95112
Project Type: Mixed use + Mixed Income
Owner/Developer: HS Santa Clara LLC
Presented to our members: February 2023
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* Projects go through several phases. Developers submit applications to the City, get their design reviewed, do redesigns based on City & community feedback, resubmit proposals for review, and get approval (though can even redesign after approval)
610-650 E Santa Clara Project Scorecard
HS Santa Clara proposes to redevelop this .41-acre site currently occupied by a two-story building with some active tenants. The site sits at the corner of E. Santa Clara and S. 14th street, and is within less than one mile away from each of the upcoming BART Downtown and 28th/Little Portugal transit stations. This mixed-use project proposes retail, office space, as well as 50 residential units in the upper levels, including 8 affordable homes. The project also includes 60 garage-level parking spaces, including seven EV charging stations, 21 motorcycle parking spots, as well as 24 long-term bicycle parking spaces. Future onsite residents and office workers will be able to take advantage of an active rooftop that includes a garden and amenities space. Additionally, the plans feature a ground level retail café with entrance from E. Santa Clara street. The architectural design of the building, sustainability elements, bicycle parking for retail, as well as other elements are still under design, and so our members would like to offer the following feedback and suggestions:
610 E. Santa Clara scored an overall 3.3 out of 5 from our Project Advocacy Committee members.
Community Score: 3/5
Our members are thankful to be included in your community engagement efforts. As we understand it, there was a previous city-led meeting held on December 14, 2022. Overall, we’d like to see a more thorough engagement plan that is responsive to the suggestions and recommendations of nearby residents and relevant organizations. Moreover, some members expressed concerns around your team not responding to correspondence from neighbors. Some suggestions include engaging organizations like the San Jose Downtown Association, Greenbelt Alliance, Housing Action Coalition, local labor unions, the East Santa Clara Street Business Association, and SV@Home. We’d like to see HS Santa Clara engage the surrounding neighborhood more, as well as the existing tenants of the site. A more robust engagement effort will result in a higher score, better project, and more support leading up to approvals. We are grateful HS Santa Clara has displayed a refreshing openness to input from our members.
Vibrancy Score: 4/5
Our members are very excited at the prospect of attracting more people and increasing the vibrancy on this corner of E. Santa Clara and S. 14th Street. A commitment to providing residential units, office space, and ground floor retail is commendable, impressive. and desperately needed for this part of E. Santa Clara. The overall layout of uses was well received among our members, yet we suggest incorporating a small community room for on-site residents to enjoy for a variety of purposes. The best received features include the rooftop garden as an amenity space (especially if it is open to the neighborhood), as well as the ground-level retail with double doors that includes a café at the corner of Santa Clara and 14th. It’s fantastic to see a developer commit to a retail business idea at this stage. More concrete suggestions provided in the letter include a retailer with extended hours, public art, and an outside seating area included for the café with windows facing the street that open. Overall, our members scored this category high because of its variety of uses and general layout. They wish to see more details and updated renderings pertaining to the architectural design and color scheme of the building. This is discussed more in the Legacy category.
Transportation Score: 3/5
We are thrilled to see more mixed-use projects proposed within a short travel distance to BART’s upcoming transit stations and right along frequent bus routes. As we understand it, this project proposes 60 garage-level parking spots (including seven EV charging stations) through stackers for a 1.20 parking ratio. It also includes 21 motorcycle parking spaces, as well as 24 bicycle parking spots in a small ground-level garage. While we’re glad you are using parking stackers because of their efficiency, most of our members are disappointed to see such a high parking ratio for a project which will be between two future BART stations. The City of San Jose’s new policy eliminates parking mandates, so take advantage of this flexibility and the other options it enables! Some members also question the decision to include 21 motorcycle parking spaces and no space for cargo and/or electric bikes, as bicycle parking is a higher priority and will meet growing demand. Along those lines, we’d like to see more short-term bicycle parking options to accommodate bike users visiting the corner café planned. In addition to a more concrete bicycle parking plan, our members suggest providing VTA transit passes to residents and those working on-site to incentivize the use of nearby transit. We also suggest integrating a designated delivery area instead of so many motorcycle/vehicle parking spaces to avoid traffic congestion along E. Santa Clara and S. 14th Street. Members also raised the topic of pedestrian safety at this intersection. Another member requested including scooter parking and others more space to charge electric cars. We recognize many of these details are still in design; the score reflects that.
Sustainability Score: 3/5
As we understand it, the development team is in the early application stages of the LEED Certification process for this project. As such, many details pertaining to sustainability strategies and their scope were not yet finalized during the presentation to our members. Some confirmed elements well-received by our members include the rooftop garden, drought-tolerant landscaping with native plants, and the bio retention swale that acts as a setback from the adjacent residential property. We strongly recommend keeping the rooftop garden in the design, as well as the existing trees on the south-facing side because both elements enhance the project’s potential in the Sustainability and Vibrancy categories. Our members’ most crucial recommendation is to pursue LEED Gold or Platinum, beyond the City’s minimum Silver requirements. Regardless, our members suggest integrating more short-term bike parking, robust water-saving strategies (aka purple pipes), a net-zero energy project, energy-efficient appliances, rooftop solar, and enhanced indoor air quality environments by exploring strategies such as Delos Well Living certification. Once more sustainability strategies have been established, we are happy to re-score this category.
Intensity/Zoning Score: 4/5
It’s great to see a mixed-use building with retail, office, and homes in an area which will be served by the upcoming BART expansion and is already served by VTA service. At 111 dwelling units per acre, our members believe this kind of density is needed in this area. This will result in 50 units, including 8 affordable homes, ranging from studios to two-bedrooms. The range of bedrooms is an impressive mix for a small project. We all agreed that the density was acceptable, yet all members, including surrounding neighbors, were open to the idea of a taller building with more unit options including microunits. One strong suggestion from our members: use the Density Bonus Law to maximize the number of homes (including affordable ones). The setback on the project’s back side shouldn’t prevent the front side facing busy Santa Clara Street from being taller. Fewer parking spots could be one way to achieve more homes.
Affordability Score: 4/5
This project proposes to meet the City’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance (IHO) by choosing the option of including 8 of the 50 (15%) units as affordable homes. Our members welcomed the news and applaud HS Santa Clara for this decision; we wish more developers pursued this path instead of paying in-lieu fees. However, at the time of the presentation to our members, the affordability details were yet to be finalized with the City of San Jose’s Housing Department. Our members reserve our highest scores for developers that go above and beyond. In this instance, our members would probably give a higher score in this category if the affordable homes are close to 30% AMI and/or there are more on-site affordable, say 20%. This is to provide housing options to folks who need housing the most and can least afford it. Finally, to prevent the displacement of the current on-site small businesses rooted in the medical field, we recommend working with existing tenants to return to the new office space you are constructing. Should you decide to enhance the affordability, our team and members will be ready to fervently advocate for this project leading up to approvals.
Legacy Score: 2/5
This category is usually reserved for projects with historical significance, yet most of our members decided it was appropriate to consider the current building and the surrounding neighborhood’s unique legacy when designing this project. It scored the lowest among all categories as our members believe that the design presented bears no resemblance to the surrounding neighborhood or commercial corridor. However, during the presentation it was stated that such design was a ‘placeholder’ as it was still in progress. Consequently, the low score reflects a perception based on what was presented and what wasn’t . We strongly believe this category is critical to improving the project and its overall score. We also believe it’s one where the developer can easily score higher. As you finalize the architectural design, some members recommended consulting with someone who has experience with Craftsman-style homes which are more reflective of the surrounding neighborhood, as well as sharing more details on the landscape design. Yet others suggested going deeper into an Art Deco design more reflective of the newer buildings constructed along E. Santa Clara street. Others suggested a building that draws on the style of the current structure with its California courtyard look. Overall, our members look forward to seeing updated renderings in the future and urge you to consider a design more reflective of the surrounding area. We’re eager to see your revised designs!
Overall Score: 3.3 out of 5
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