On Monday, 15 August 2016, over 60 community members gathered at the Roosevelt Community Center for the City of San Jose Planning Department’s public meeting on the proposed development of the Empire Lumber Site (E. Santa Clara between 26th & 28th Streets).
That is an impressive turnout — thanks to all who participated.
Among continuing concerns:
- Height in relation to the Church and to the homes on Shortridge. The maximum height of the project is 85′ but parts in the back step down to 72′. There is some setback on the top floor. The proposed general plan amendment would make 85′ the standard for the entire 2.77 acres (current policy limits 50% to that height). Several community members objected to the height and advocated for more significant setbacks.
- The developer is requesting a 50% reduction in the general plan retail requirement for the area. Most comments pertaining to retail were suggestions of what people would like to see on the site. It was also pointed out that this reduction would put greater retail pressure on other parts of the village plan.
- Besides the height in relation to the Church, other comments included avoiding construction impacts on the physical structure of the Church and reflecting the appearance of the Church in the design for the project.
- Several community members expressed concerns about insufficient parking on the site, impact of the project on traffic and on-street parking, loading docks, ingress and egress.
- The developer’s advocate promised creation of “a high quality pedestrian environment” and several residents commended the design for the widened sidewalks on E. Santa Clara and on the plaza entrance curving into the trail.
- The developer’s advocate expressed interest in directing park fees paid for the project to development of the trail alongside the project and possibly beyond.
- The developer’s advocate stated that venting, plumbing and other infrastructure required for food or other retail on the ground floor would be included.
- On the overall design of the project, the developer’s advocate stated a willingness to “work with the community on the design” and an openness “to change.”
- A community member pointed out that the density of housing on this site is much higher than any of the recent projects built or underway downtown (including “The Pierce” on Market Street).
- The importance of the interface with the trail and “eyes on the trail” was emphasized.
So, despite some good things about the project, community members continue to have concerns, particularly about height, setbacks and overall design.
The Planning Commission will consider the proposed general plan amendments at their meeting on October 26, 2016 — put it on your calendar!
This report was submitted by Professor Terry Christensen, representing the BART Transit Village Advocates & the Friends of Five Wounds Trail.