New Development Begs the Question: Which Way, San Jose?

Despite its mostly sprawling conditions, San Jose has recently prioritized walkable, dense urban environments. But should the city focus its development downtown or build a connected network of urban neighborhoods?
March 24, 2014, 1pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Urbanists are keeping a close eye on the development prospects of San Jose in the Silicon Valley. The sprawling city has, in recent years, attempted to overcome its suburban development patterns, “[shifting] its strategic focus to increasingly dense, urban development, implementing a downtown high-rise incentive program, fast-tracking new residential towers and adding citywide bike lanes,” writes Lauren Hepler.

New development possibilities outside of Downtown, however, stir controversy among Downtown stakeholders who would like to concentrate development in the core. The controversy was given new fuel at the hint of large-scale development plans in a section of town called Santana Row. In an earlier article, Hepler details the deal creating the consternation: “The owner of the San Jose shopping and socializing hub, Maryland-based Federal Realty Investment Trust, Wednesday said it has entered ‘a long-term’ land lease for the 11.6-acre Century Theatres site located just across Winchester Boulevard from Santana Row.”

The possibilities seem in line with the urban ambitions of the city, “[but] any new development would likely run into old criticisms; Santana Row's location outside of downtown San Jose has always been a sticking point for advocates of more centralized urban development,” explains Halpern in the later article.

Others, however, argue that San Jose can have more than one focal point of development. Even the august observer SPUR argued for the city “to better link and promote areas surrounding downtown, like the Alameda, Japantown, Santana Row and Willow Glen,” in a recent report on San Jose. Hepler quotes the report, which says the city should "reframe the surrounding areas as an asset to downtown, not a threat."

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Published on Friday, March 21, 2014 in Silicon Valley Business Journal
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