Evergreen college board extends development talks

The San José-Evergreen Community College District Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to extend an exclusive negotiating agreement with a San Jose developer for an ambitious mixed-use project slated for roughly 13.5 acres of city property near Evergreen Valley College.

Republic Urban Properties, LLC, is behind the massive development project called “Montgomery Place.”

While some attributes remain unknown, plans for the project includes 103,000 square feet of medical office space and 175 units for commercial senior care. Recreational open space is also part of the plan, but developers are seeking public input, said Republic President and CEO Michael Van Every at the Tuesday meeting.

The decision to focus on medical offices and seniors was in response to the demand for more healthcare options for an aging population — especially in the secluded Evergreen area — in addition to bringing new jobs to San Jose, a priority established in the city’s 2040 general plan.

“A big mission for us was to have a first phase that’s commercial only,” Van Every said at the meeting. “I know there’s a lot of sensitivity in the community about housing. I want to be clear: this is a commercial-only project.”

Van Every said the public is interested in seeing area trails spruced up with new connections from the campus, including one to Montgomery Park. He added that Republic wants to blend the development with the existing college and neighborhood. The idea is to make it walkable and accessible for bicyclists, scooters and skateboards, he said.

Photo courtesy of San Jose.

Parking lots would be small and surrounded by lots of trees, and solar panels would be another component of the project. “We have something for everybody in the neighborhood so it’s just not another stale commercial area where you can’t walk through or visit,” Van Every said.

The trustees were largely supportive of the the development, but Trustee Maria Fuentes had concerns about the additional demand the new development would bring to some of the campus’ busy streets.

Evergreen Valley College President Keith Aytch said the college is looking at potentially making some adjustments to Paseo De Arboles to accommodate increased traffic.

Other trustees expressed interest in internship opportunities for students at the proposed medical center, something Van Every said was a “key fabric” of the labor agreement portion of the project.

District Academic Senate President Eric Narveson asked about the remaining 13.5 acres that hadn’t yet been claimed as part of the project.

Van Every dropped plans for housing after community outcry about increased traffic and difficulties getting in and out of the Evergreen area.

“What I understand under the agreement was that Republic had the access to all that land to decide which parts to leave public and which parts to leave open,” Narveson said. “Does this surrender back to the district, the balance?”

Van Every said use of that portion of the land was uncertain, but if a medical user was interested in expanding into that space it could open up further land-use discussion.

“There could be other opportunities for the senior care, but maybe that’s not necessarily what’s best for the district,” he said.

The exclusive negotiating agreement was set to expire at the end of the month. The extension gave an additional month for Republic to submit plans to the city.

Contact Carina Woudenberg at carinaw86@gmail.com or follow @carinaew on Twitter.

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