The South Bay has become a major development hot-spot in the last few years, as office space fills up in traditionally trendy cities to the north and growing companies look for space to expand.
But 2020 is set to be an especially active year in Santa Clara with multiple big projects hitting important milestones. Below are four major Santa Clara developments to watch in the coming year.
The Related Cos.’ massive ‘Related Santa Clara’ development is one of the most buzzed about projects in Silicon Valley, and for good reason.
The 9.2 million-square-foot mixed-use, multi-phase development sits near some of the biggest attractions in Silicon Valley, including Levi’s Stadium, where the San Francisco 49ers play and Great America amusement park. It’s expected to come with new office space, retail, parks and create a sense of place in a city that’s struggled to create a central “there there,” as Gertrude Stein might call it.
Once known as City Place, the 240-acre development at 5155 Stars and Stripes Drive sat in limbo for more than a year as Santa Clara and San Jose officials duked it out over the environmental impacts of the project. But this year, the development on a one-time garbage dump and current golf course started construction.
Since then, the city has beefed up its staffing to expedite the project and has a plan underway to build a new electricity substation to accommodate future power needs.
The development could end up being the first in Silicon Valley to welcome Uber’s flying cars, company representatives announced last summer. Though neither Uber nor Related have confirmed the project will come with a new “skyport,” the pair has released some early renderings of what that could look like, and city officials have been supportive of the concept.
“The city of Santa Clara is supportive of exploring all modes of transportation and looks forward to seeing how this cutting-edge venture would further transform Santa Clara as a future-forward city,” Santa Clara spokeswoman Lenka Wright said in a statement earlier this year.
Meanwhile, another massive Santa Clara proposal is working through its own issues.
Chinese developer Kylli has proposed a 10.6 million-square-foot development called Mission Point on a 49-acre site once owned by Yahoo at 3005 Democracy Way, but the Federal Aviation Administration has raised red flags about the tall towers reaching as high as 370 feet in the project.
The FAA has told the developer that buildings taller than 61 feet — or about six stories — pose a problem because of potential radar interference. But Kylli isn’t giving up just yet.
“We think there’s a lot of room around that height,” Randi Gerson, vice president of real estate development for Kylli, said in an interview with San José Spotlight. “We know that if we work with our consultant and work with the FAA we can find a different height that is not 61 feet, but it’s not going to be 370 feet, either.”
Kylli’s next iteration of the plan will likely come around the end of 2019 or early 2020, Gerson estimated.
How much it will change remains to be seen. The most recent proposal outlined a plan for 6,000 new residential units, 3.65 million square feet of office space, 400,000 square feet of retail, a new hotel, day care facilities and a school.
On the border of Santa Clara and San Jose, meanwhile, the 21.4-acre Gateway Crossings project is set to get underway. The development by Cupertino-based Hunter Storm Development will include 1,565 residential units — including 157 affordable homes — alongside 45,000 square feet of retail space, a 225-room hotel and nearly 3 acres of park land. The project will be built in two phases on what is now primarily vacant land long zoned for light industrial uses.
“Hopefully, within 24 to 36 months, we’ve got a residential building up and the hotel started as well as building two,” Josh Rupert, director of development for Hunter Storm, said in an interview this year. “We don’t have any intention of slowing down.”
The development sits near Caltrain, VTA and will eventually be along the extended BART line. The developer sees the project as an extension to its Coleman Highline project, just across the San Jose border where the company is building a 2.2 million-square-foot office development called Coleman Highline, where Verizon and video streaming technology company Roku have already leased most of the development.
Finding answers for 500 Benton
What started out as a simple vote for Santa Clara leaders to extend an existing agreement this year became a controversial debate over student housing, historic buildings, transit and a city water well.
At the center of it all is a 2.43-acre slice of publicly-owned land at 500 Benton St. in Santa Clara. There, developer Republic Metropolitan has what’s known as an “exclusive negotiating agreement” to work with the city on an arrangement to develop housing on the property. The San Francisco-based developer has changed its vision from co-living to workforce and student housing.
But some residents worry the project would essentially serve as student housing for nearby Santa Clara University — instead of workforce housing.
“Changing what you call this space in the property doesn’t stop the developer from branding and marketing this space to students rather than for professionals,” Jonathan Evans, vice president of the Old Quad Residents Association, told councilmembers in November. “This project needs to be directed toward workforce housing for people who will take advantage of the transit opportunities of the location.”
Republic is set to return to the Santa Clara City Council in early 2020 to offer an update on its vision and respond to concerns by councilmembers and residents. If the answers don’t satisfy councilmembers, that could be the end of the exclusive negotiating agreement, opening the land up for a new proposal.
But councilmembers seemed open to continuing the arrangement with Republic.
“We haven’t even had a real chance to get them (Republic) out into the neighborhoods,” Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor said during the November meeting. “We are talking about the negotiating agreement, we haven’t even started on a project yet, so this is going to be a long story and this isn’t the last discussion.”
Contact Janice Bitters at [email protected] or follow @JaniceBitters on Twitter.