UPDATE: Dozens of condos proposed in West San Jose
This Italianate Victorian style cottage at 1065 S. Winchester Blvd. in San Jose could be torn down to make way for a six-story condo development. The property also has a barn and fruit drying shed. All of the buildings were built between 1887 and 1900, according to city reports. Photo by Joseph Geha.

    A potentially historic West San Jose barn and cottage built near the turn of the 20th century should be demolished to make way for condominiums and ground floor businesses, the city’s Planning Commission recommended Wednesday.

    The vote was 8-1, with Commissioner Sylvia Ornelas-Wise dissenting, saying she thought the decision should be deferred until a plan to relocate the buildings could be made. The final decision on whether or not the developer will be required to retain the 120-year-old buildings on the site will fall to the San Jose City Council.

    Just a half-mile north from where developer and dentist Adam Askari is planning to build a 119-room hotel that stirred controversy among neighbors, he is fronting the effort to put up 79 condos on a nearly one-acre plot at 1065 S. Winchester Blvd.

    Plans call for a six-story building with 70 condos and about 20,000 square feet of commercial space on the first and second floors, city reports said. The plans fit in with the city’s urban village planning effort, which encourages dense mixed-use developments that include housing and commercial space.

    This rendering shows what a six-story condominium complex could look like if built at 1065 S. Winchester Blvd. in San Jose. Image courtesy of San Jose.

    Commissioner Michael Young and Justin Lardinois said they liked the development because it’s in line with the city’s urban village planning.

    “This is a really good project, providing some housing and some employment opportunities on a very small parcel,” Young said.

    The site borders another small plot of land where the same developer received previous approval from the city’s planning director for a similar mixed-use condo development. The city council must decide the ultimate fate of the property due to the older structures nearby.

    An Italianate Victorian style cottage, along with a California style barn and a fruit drying shed, among other structures built between 1887 and 1900, currently stand on the property and would be torn down, city reports said. The project’s benefits, such as more housing, widened sidewalks and repaved streets, outweigh the impacts of losing the buildings, reports said.

    “Just because it’s older property it has to go through this report,” Askari told commissioners. “But there is nothing significant in regard to the architect, events or any important person (associated with the properties).”

    The city’s Historic Landmarks Commission in its review of the plans said the buildings should be preserved, even if the barn needs to be moved to a different part of the site to do so.

    “The property is one of the few remaining intact representations of the fruit drying heritage of the Santa Clara Valley which will be permanently lost if the existing residence, barn, and accessory buildings are demolished,” the commission wrote in response to the environmental impact report for the project.

    The developer said keeping the buildings would reduce the number of condominiums by 60-70%. Askari said due to the high costs of construction, retaining the buildings on site would make his development plans infeasible.

    “It’s not possible, it’s not feasible, it doesn’t pencil out,” he said.

    Mike Sodergren, head of advocacy for the nonprofit Preservation Action Council of San Jose, asked commissioners to defer the vote so the nonprofit could work with the developer to figure out how to preserve the buildings on site.

    “This is a historically significant setting for the agricultural history of San Jose. Preservation Action Council’s interest is in preserving that and using it and reactivating for telling of our story here,” Sodergren said.

    Commissioner Ornelas-Wise agreed with Sodergren.

    “So many of us grew up with family that were in the agriculture business here locally from farmworkers to canneries to whatnot, that’s really important and it should be preserved,” she said.

    If the council were to approve the development, the developer will be required to advertise in a newspaper and online that the buildings are available for free, if a third-party wants to pay the cost to relocate them to a suitable site.

    Askari said if someone wants to relocate the structures, he would contribute to the cost of relocation equivalent to the cost of demolition.

    “It definitely needs to be preserved and relocated,” Ornelas-Wise said. “I don’t think it should be just like, ‘Let me see if someone takes it.’ I think that we need to preserve it. I think it’s part of the history of San Jose.”

    Contact Joseph Geha at [email protected] or @josephgeha16 on Twitter.

    Comment Policy (updated 11/1/2021): We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, hate speech, excess profanity or make verifiably false statements. Comments are moderated and approved by administrators.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.