San Jose approves hundreds of homes east of downtown
This digital rendering shows what a 235-apartment complex called Residencias Arianna would look like when complete at 1298 Tripp Ave. in San Jose. Image courtesy of San Jose.

San Jose officials have signed off on plans for more than 900 apartments near a future BART station east of downtown.

The massive housing project near the city’s Little Portugal and Roosevelt Park neighborhoods is being planned by San Jose-based Roygbiv Real Estate Development. It gained approval Wednesday at the San Jose Planning Director’s hearing.

“This is such a significant community project,” Roygbiv CEO Loida Kirkley told San José Spotlight. “That part of San Jose needs to revitalize and this will do it.”

The project is an anchor of the Five Wounds Urban Village plan, one of numerous designated growth areas where city officials are encouraging development of dense housing and job opportunities near public transit.

This digital rendering shows what a 45-apartment complex called Casa Inclusiva would look like when complete at 1347 E. Julian Street in San Jose. Image courtesy of San Jose.

Plans call for constructing six buildings with 913 apartments, with 407 priced as below market-rate, often referred to as affordable housing.

Of the affordable apartments, most will be priced for people earning up to 80% of the area median income, 100%, or 120% of the area median income, the higher end of what is considered affordable in the region.

In Santa Clara County, 80% of the median income for a single person is about $96,000 annually, and about $137,000 for a household of four. A single person at 120% of the median each year would be eligible if they earned about $152,000 or less annually, while a family of four in that bracket could earn up to $217,000 annually.

The levels of affordability on the project are raising concerns for some housing advocates. Sandy Perry, president of the Affordable Housing Network of Santa Clara County, told San José Spotlight a project with these levels of affordability doesn’t do enough to address the region’s crippling low-income housing crisis. He said people earning from below 30% of the median to 50% are in the greatest need for housing that is affordable to their level of income.

“If we were serious about addressing the problem, we would be doing whatever is necessary to create housing affordable to those most in need,” Perry told San José Spotlight. “We do not oppose this project, but it is developments like this that actually give the term ‘affordable housing’ a bad name. Low-income families in San Jose frequently complain that affordable housing isn’t affordable.”

Kirkley said she regrets that the affordability levels aren’t deeper, but noted “nothing is getting built” with the current challenges of higher interest rates tamping down development activity.

“I love the city of San Jose, I’d like to do more for the community,” she said.

She added that the project is privately funded, and is not receiving any direct city, county or state funding—so to make the project financially viable, the affordable housing levels have to be higher.

“My projects are all workforce housing, because I don’t want people to fall into homelessness,” Kirkley said.

The project includes 678 apartments that will be built on 3.3 acres of land at 1325 E. Julian St., spread across five buildings. One building will be six stories tall and the other four will be 10 stories tall, city reports said. The vacant site is just west of Highway 101, across the street from the planned future 28th Street/Little Portugal BART Station. One block of 633 apartments will be called Vila De Camila, and a 45-apartment portion will be called Casa Inclusiva.

Another 235 apartments will be built on roughly 1.5 acres near 1298 Tripp Avenue, between Wooster Avenue and N. 26th Street, and will be called Residencias Arianna. That land has two apartment complexes on it totaling 40 apartments, as well as two single-family homes, which are slated to be demolished for the project.

While Vila De Camila will have both affordable and market-rate apartments, Residencias Arianna and Case Inclusiva will be all affordable.

The development will also include nearly 15,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floors.

In addition to the future BART station, which is still years away, the project site is less than a half-mile from an existing bus rapid transit station at East Santa Clara Street and South 24th Street, city reports said.

The project is being granted a series of exceptions to various development guidelines, such as being allowed to exceed height limits in the area, increase density and reduce parking to 267 spaces for all the apartments. The exceptions are being granted under the State Density Bonus Law because of the affordable housing elements and from city planners because the project furthers the city’s Urban Village goals, city reports said.

The project’s first two phases set for the vacant land are expected to be the priority, Kirkley said, with the third phase that requires demolition coming later in the hopes of relocating those existing tenants into the new complex.

Kirkley said she estimates the project could break ground sometime in 2024, and expects it to take roughly three years to complete.

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

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