Downtown San Jose’s El Paseo Court Slated for Renovation

An aging Spanish Colonial-style building in downtown San Jose may soon get a makeover. The owner of the El Paseo Court has asked city officials to designate the South First Street property a historic landmark so he can get a tax break for the renovation.

The proposal comes up for consideration at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Ramsey Nijmeh, the landlord and owner of a local print and direct mail business, submitted a 10-year work plan for the site, which lies adjacent to Fountain Alley.

GWP Jensen built the two-story El Paseo complex in 1932 for $25,000, according to city records. The structure consists of several offices and work lofts clustered around a tile courtyard. It features uneven clay roof tiles and French windows and wrought iron balconies on the upper floor.

The arched courtyard that opens to South First Street leads to several retail shops on the ground floor with offices spaces above. The courtyard is covered in red tile flooring and features a mosaic tiled water fountain, plant beds and stairways trimmed with brightly colored ceramic tiles.

San Jose’s Historic Landmark Commission commended Nijmeh’s plans for the site and unanimously recommended that the council sign off on the project. If the council obliges, Nijmeh would get a property tax discount. In exchange, he would have to spend at least 10 percent of the tax savings on revitalizing the building, as promised.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for November 29, 2016:

  • The city will consider financing a $20 million loan to a nonprofit housing corporation to buy the 70-unit Don De Dios apartment building. Under the proposed contract, EAH, Inc., the housing nonprofit, will renovate the property and lock in affordability rates for another 55 years.
  • Granite Rock Company submitted the lowest bid ($1.56 million) for a bike lane and pedestrian project on St. John Street. The bikeway project involves upgrades along St. John Street between North San Pedro and North First streets, including a cycling corridor to and from the light rail stop.
  • Vice Mayor Rose Herrera will host a city-sponsored reception to mark the end of her final term on the council. The event will take place Friday at the Evergreen Community Center.
  • City staff is asking for $117,291 in change orders for a fire station renovation that it “inadvertently issued and paid” without council approval. The six-figure mark-up makes up 38 percent of the contract amount. The legal contingency limit is 15 percent. “To safeguard staff from exceeding the allowable contingency, additional training has been added to educate new and existing staff of the allowable contingencies for renovation projects.”

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

One Comment

  1. Hey wait a minute he only has to spend 10% of his tax savings on renovation? So if I spend 10% of my property tax on renovating my house I can get the city to cancel out my property tax?
    Honey let’s buy some paint!

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