Bellarmine College Preparatory, a prestigious private Catholic boys high school in San Jose, is planning for several updates to facilities on its campus in the city’s College Park neighborhood.
The 17.6-acre campus could see an expansion to its building space—from 347,000 square feet to 487,000 square feet—if San Jose leaders approve a rezoning and redevelopment plan for the 172-year-old school. The city’s Planning Commission will consider approval at its meeting Wednesday, and the San Jose City Council will have the final say at a later date.
The planning commission will also consider approval of environmental review documents for both short-term and long-term potential redevelopment on the campus. Plans include relocating a 107-year-old historic home known as Berchmans Hall, located at 870 Elm St., at the corner of West Hedding Street.
The goal is to move it across Elm Street into a parking area, rehabilitate it and convert it into an admissions and welcome center, Brian Adams, vice president of advancement for Bellarmine, told San José Spotlight.
Neighboring Wade Hall, a 22,287-square-foot building used for housing Jesuit staff of the school, will be demolished. Those staff will be moved into a nearly complete housing building across campus at 931 University Ave.
The relocation and demolition projects will make space for a two-story, 44,698-square-foot building to be named the Wade Academic Center—after Fr. Jerry Wade, S.J., a chancellor and former president of the school.
The Wade building will include 22 classrooms with a speech and debate hub, faculty offices, a dean’s office and the school’s information technology department, Adams said.
“We’re excited about the advancements that these new facilities will offer our students,” Adams said.
The changes and additions to campus are aimed at replacing and enhancing school facilities, not growing its student enrollment, he said, which is at 1,667 students.
A series of would-be local and national dignitaries, athletes and politicians have attended the school, including three San Jose mayors: Tom McEnery, Sam Liccardo and Matt Mahan.
The vacant Berchmans Hall, originally built in 1916 at the corner of Stockton Avenue and West Taylor Street, was purchased by Bellarmine and relocated to campus in 1946, Adams said. It once served as the school’s infirmary, and more recently was the home of an on-campus head of grounds and maintenance.
Plans indicate that Berchmans Hall will be centered at a new entrance to the school, and that this will help highlight the educational institution’s long history as students and visitors move past it to see the other modern buildings on campus.
District 6 Councilmember Dev Davis, who represents the area where Bellarmine is located, didn’t comment on the specifics of the project but praised Bellarmine for being open about its plans.
“I appreciate the outreach and community engagement school leaders conducted during the construction proposal,” Davis told San José Spotlight.
Adams said the new Wade Academic Center, to be built in the footprint of Berchmans Hall and the existing Wade Hall, will host classes from O’Donnell Hall. That building is an aging former dormitory converted into classrooms after the school stopped boarding students in the early 1980s.
If the project is approved by both the planning commission and city council, Adams said the school hopes to complete the relocation of Berchmans, begin demolition on Wade Hall and break ground on the new center by year’s end.
The rezoning to be considered by San Jose leaders opens the door for Bellarmine to make other facility enhancements in coming years as part of the school’s master plan, city reports said, including the demolition of O’Donnell Hall and the construction of a 23,000-square-foot administrative and academic building.
The Liccardo Center Building and Matthewson Hall could also be renovated, though all those possible projects would require separate permit approvals, city reports said.
Adams said those plans are part of a long-term vision and there are no immediate timelines.