San Jose approves Alum Rock housing project, airport expansion plan
A rendering of the proposed Alum Rock Family Housing project. Image courtesy of Santa Clara County.

    The San Jose City Council this week unanimously approved investing nearly $9.4 million to construct an 87-unit mixed-use affordable housing complex located in the heart of San Jose’s East Side in Alum Rock.

    The project’s total costs, which amount to nearly $55.4 million, are in part funded by Measure A funds — a $950 million affordable housing bond measure — and will be built by developer Affirmed Housing Group. The project is the first in the city to use the SB 35 process to streamline development, a law passed in 2018 that spurs housing construction by speeding up the approval process.

    “This is a landmark moment for our city,” Housing Director Jacky Morales-Ferrand said.

    The city’s decision to invest in the project is part of the its commitment to devote at least $100 million to 11 affordable housing projects across San Jose — a tremendous investment local leaders promised last February.

    In addition to the Alum Rock development, lawmakers also approved two other affordable housing projects — investing $9.8 million for the West San Carlos development at 750 West San Carlos St. and authorizing a ground lease for developer SAHA to finance construction for a new affordable development at 500 Almaden Ave.

    According to Morales-Ferrand, the developments align with the city’s goals by adding 251 new affordable housing units leveraging more than $120 million collectively in outside funding and advancing the city’s climate objectives.

    While Liccardo supports the three projects, he said it’s important for all districts to “embrace” affordable housing developments.

    “These are the familiar districts where we see affordable housing,” Liccardo said. “It’s really important for us to see these kinds of projects happen throughout the city… and I’m looking forward to seeing all ten districts embracing projects like this.”

    Housing officials expect construction on the Alum Rock development to begin by May 2020 and be completed by Sept. 2021.

    Airport Master Plan update 

    City elected leaders this week also unanimously approved an update to an ambitious plan to expand the Mineta San Jose International Airport as aviation leaders prepare for an increase in new travelers over the next decade.

    “We’ve had tremendous growth at the airport that’s been impacting our operation,” said the airport’s director of aviation John Aitken during the City Council meeting Tuesday. “We’re trying to lay a path forward to include necessary precursor projects to plan for the future of the airport.”

    For the past three years, the airport has seen a spike in air travel and airport officials expect that the growth will continue for the next decade. According to Aitken, the airport has met its 14 million passenger capacity — with about 448,000 passengers per gate — causing passenger congestion and discomfort.

    “The airport continues to experience challenges on our peak times and, as we all know, given the time for procurement design, development and construction, we need to start now if we want it within the next four years,” Aitken said. “The demand for the air traffic will only increase.”

    In a memo, Liccardo said he supports giving fee reductions for airlines using fuels that minimize greenhouse gas emissions, such as hybrid, electric or low emission alternatives for airplanes and ground vehicles.

    The plan includes building a brand new Terminal C with 14 additional gates, a short term 5,000 slot parking garage and 6,000 long term parking spaces, and a massive 330 room hotel with 300,000 square feet.

    As part of the approval process, the public will have opportunities to provide feedback at public hearings and at the airport and planning commissions before airport officials plan to return to the City Council for a final approval in March.

    Contact Nadia Lopez at [email protected] or follow @n_llopez on Twitter.

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