Article from the Mercury News
A development of hundreds of homes near the site of a future BART station east of downtown San Jose has been fine-tuned in a way that could help the residential project push ahead.
The project could sprout on the one-time site of Empire Lumber at 1260 E. Santa Clara St. between South 26th Street and South 28th Street, according to documents on file with San Jose city planners.
The mixed-use development would consist of more than 400 homes along with commercial spaces that could accommodate dining, shops, or offices, plans on file with the city show. It is across the street and just west of the historic Five Wounds Portuguese National Parish.
The project is one of several that are being contemplated for an area near a future BART stop known as the 28th Street/Little Portugal station. This BART station is slated to be the next one built in San Jose.
City leaders and developers envision this area as the site of a mixed-use transit village of homes, offices, stores, dining establishments and open spaces.
The Empire Lumber project could contribute to that grand vision.
The proposed development would produce as many as 408 residential units and 66,300 square feet of commercial space that could consist of restaurants, shops and offices, according to city planning documents.
For about two years, the property’s owners, Morgan Hill-based Pacific States Industries Development and Burch Investment Co., which are led by lumber yard owner Roger Burch, had contemplated two options for the site’s development.
Burch, however, has now picked an option that would lead to the development of the 400-plus residences, city officials say.
The development site totals just under 2.8 acres and is approximately bounded by South 26th, East Santa Clara, South 28th and Shortridge Road.
“The project proposes to demolish all existing structures and associated parking and construct a new mixed-use building on-site,” city planning documents state. “The mixed-use building would be seven stories.”
The plans show the new residential and commercial buildings would have frontage on three streets, primarily East Santa Clara Street. Steps would lead from East Santa Clara up to a central courtyard, which would be flanked by the residences.
The property had a decades-long history as a lumber yard, city documents show. In 1912, San Jose Lumber Co. launched operations on the site. The lumber operations were present during the Great Depression, World War II and the post-war years.
In 1980, the site was re-branded as Empire Lumber. The lumber operations ceased in the early 2000s, the municipal records state. Starting in 2003, a used-car sales business has operated on the site.
If built, the project is expected to be one of the mainstays of a transit village that government officials anticipate could emerge around the future BART station.
“Current city plans would allow for about 3.6 million square feet of new development in the 28th Street/Little Portugal Station Area,” according to a document that the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, or VTA, posted in July 2020.
Yet it’s likely that the lumber yard project, as well as all others being proposed for the area, will undergo intense scrutiny before they are approved and can be developed.
“The community has been very clear that taking advantage of the 28th Street/Little Portugal BART Station also means preserving and promoting the district’s Latino and Portuguese cultural heritage,” a VTA document states.
Government officials intend to ensure that existing residents and owners benefit from the future village and its projects.
“Collectively, the City of San Jose, VTA and their partners have the chance to transform the 28th Street/Little Portugal BART Station area into a transit-oriented community where people want to live, work, and play,” the VTA stated. “It truly is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”