Japantown businesses feel the pinch of new development
The sidewalk along 6th St. at the new Facet housing development site by Shea Properties and SWENSON Builders. Photo by Kyle Martin.

With a new luxury, market-rate housing development coming to Japantown, local business owners are feeling the pinch of losing parking spots that they say could threaten their livelihoods.

In January, developers broke ground on Facet, the upcoming 518-unit apartment complex, and Sixth and Jackson, the adjoining 19,000-square-foot retail space. The mixed-use development will feature a two-building, seven story apartment complex with luxury units ranging from 512-square foot studios to 1,537-square foot three-bedroom units, parking garages, pools and recreation centers. New tenants are expected to move in Spring 2021.

Meanwhile, cement construction barriers are blocking some parking spaces near the construction site, with new parking closures coming soon.

“Right now, it’s very, very horrible because they have that barrier. That’s half of my parking right there,” said Kingsley Egorerua, owner of Japantown business East Taylor Barbershop on Taylor Street. “They don’t seem to care.”

Across the street from Egorerua’s shop, a barrier blocks the street. He said some of his customers have had to park several blocks away to get to his shop for a haircut, hurting his business and inconveniencing him and his clientele.

“We were here first,” Egorerua said. “The big picture is, once everything’s done, it should make my business better, right? I hope so. That’s the plan.”

Joey Brajkobich, a bartender for J Town Pizza Co. on 6th Street, said he and his coworkers are having trouble finding parking for work, too. He parks several blocks away in residential areas during the busy lunch or dinner shifts.

“It’s going to make employees have to walk far away,” he said. “I’m not really sure where we’re going to park.”

Tamiko Rast, president of the Japantown Business Association and a member of the city’s Downtown Parking Board, called parking in Japantown “an issue with multiple causes.”

“Parking is an issue in Japantown, I don’t think that’s ever going to change,” Rast said. “We have too many residents, too many businesses, to deal with this infrastructure.”

She said that Japantown, developers and city officials “needs flexibility on innovative ways to increase parking, ” such as restriping streets so they can add more parking.

Otherwise, things could get worse for Japantown businesses, she said.

But all I know is that the cost to run a small business is increasing and therefore we need more people to frequent the businesses,” Rast said. “And if they complain about parking and can’t access our small businesses, we’re in trouble.”

Steve Andrews, senior vice president of construction for SWENSON, the San Jose developer behind the housing development, said the parking closures are necessary for safe access into and around the area for crews working on the 3.8-acre project site, which takes up the block from 6th Street to 7th Street and in between E. Taylor St. and Jackson St.

It could have been worse.

Colin Heyne, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Transportation, said the developer wanted to encroach upon several on-street parking spots on all sides of the construction site.

“Our department and Public Works kind of came forward and advocated for the Japantown community and got them to drop the request for several of the parking spots,” Heyne said.

Heyne said about 26 of the several dozen parking spots on parts of 6th Street and Jackson Street will remain open.The rest of the dozens of spots will be closed.

“It’s a two-year plan. They have a one-year permit for those parking spots,” Heyne said. “We’ll re-evaluate in a year to see if there’s anymore we can open up before letting them reapply for another one-year permit.”

Shea Properties, the developer behind Facet, could not be reached for comment.

Contact Kyle Martin at kylebmartin96@gmail.com or follow him @Kyle_Martin35 on Twitter.

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