1999 Camden Avenue and 3590 Union Avenue,
San Jose, CA 95124
Project Type: 100% Affordable
Owner/Developer: Abode Communities
Presented to our members: June 2023
Catalyze SV evaluates project sustainability, equity, and vibrancy. Learn about our project review process.
For more information, please refer to our scorecard below:
* 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)
Camden Place Project Scorecard
Abode Communities’ proposal is to construct a 6-story building composed of five wood-frame stories over one level of podium. The proposal includes 90 units ranging from studios to three-bedroom homes, all of which are 100% affordable and accessible to individuals earning between 30% and 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Onsite residential amenities include a central courtyard, play area, community room, and well-landscaped sidewalks. The project includes 65 vehicle parking spaces for a 0.73 parking ratio, as well as 24 bicycle parking spaces. Additionally, the building will be 100% electric, although there is no commitment to install solar panels at this time.Our members offer the following feedback on the project:
Camden Place scored an overall 3.5 out of 5 from our Project Advocacy Committee members.
Community Score: 4/5
Our members appreciate that Abode Communities engaged with the community and concerned stakeholders throughout the process, despite not being required by the SB35 streamlining process. The development team's efforts to meet with key stakeholders, residents, business owners, and members of the Cambrian Park community in February and March 2023 were well-received. However, the members suggest expanding community engagement to include additional stakeholders, such as potential tenants, including formerly homeless and low-income residents, to gather valuable insight from those with lived experience. Overall, our members appreciate the responsiveness of the development team to community input.
Vibrancy Score: 2/5
Catalyze SV supports projects that include vibrant places for both incoming occupants of the new buildings and existing neighbors around it. While the proposal already incorporates amenities such as planted sidewalks, a central courtyard, and a community room, our members believe there is a lot more opportunity to further enhance the benefits of the project. Our members recommend activating the streetfront and sidewalks to create a vibrant and inviting atmosphere. Opening the community room to the public and enhancing the courtyard with outdoor activities and amenities were some of the suggestions put forth. Additionally, our members believe that the inclusion of human-scaled elements like street furniture and welcoming features at the entrance and sidewalks would foster better connectivity between the building and public spaces.
Transportation Score: 3/5
Our members are almost always happy to see a proposal with a low parking ratio. The low car parking ratio in the current design (65 parking spaces) was well-received by our members, especially with the integration of a stacked parking system, though some members wish to see even less parking. However, our members would like to see additional bike parking included to support a bike and pedestrian-friendly environment that enables connections to the nearest light-rail transit stop. Our members also wish to see bike parking infrastructure that accommodates both cargo bikes and electric ones. To promote sustainable transportation, our members recommend providing free VTA transit passes to residents for many years so they can access nearby VTA bus options.
Sustainability Score: 3/5
Our members emphasize buildings that go above and beyond on sustainability and encourage Abode Communities to exceed the basic City of San Jose's sustainability standards for new buildings. While the proposal already includes commendable features like an all-electric building, drought-tolerant landscaping, and energy-efficient appliances, the members suggest pursuing higher third-party certifications such as LEED Gold or Platinum. Furthermore, additional efforts in sustainability, such as installing solar panels and providing VTA transit passes, would further reduce the environmental impact of the new building and align with our goals of both sustainability and transportation.
Intensity/Zoning Score: 4/5
The project's proposal to construct a 6-story building with 90 homes on a 0.68-acre site garnered positive feedback from our members. Though our members acknowledged that most structures in this neighborhood are shorter, they also pointed out that other mid-rise buildings like this one are soon coming to this part of town, including across the street in the approved Cambrian Village project. Our members viewed the density for this Abode project, at 132 dwelling units per acre (du/ac), as an opportunity to connect residents to essential community resources. Emphasizing the importance of meeting local housing needs, the members expressed their preference for maintaining the current height and density without any reductions.
Affordability Score: 5/5
Our members were delighted to see that the project is 100% affordable, addressing the pressing need for affordable homes in San Jose. The diverse mix of affordability levels, spanning from 30% to 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI), was particularly well-received, though members acknowledge how much money 80% of the AMI is in our Valley right now. Additionally, the provision of three-bedroom homes to accommodate larger families and setting aside 25% of units for formerly unhoused individuals was lauded by our members (one member wondered if you might include more studios). However, some members expressed concern regarding the potential displacement of existing retailers to construct this project. As such, our members request a thoughtful approach that includes considerations, ongoing dialogue, and a possible relocation plan for affected businesses.
Legacy Score: N/A
Members of Catalyze SV didn’t think this category was applicable to this site.