San Jose Poised to OK 226-Unit Mixed-Use Meridian Project

The 259 Meridian project expected to be approved today by the San Jose City Council is one of the first developments that fits into the city’s West San Carlos Urban Village plan.

The proposal includes the demolition of three existing commercial buildings—comprising a combined 19,000 square feet—and a surface parking lot, which would be replaced by 226 residential units and about 1,400 square feet of ground-floor commercial space at 259 Meridian Ave. Hallmarks of urban villages include pedestrian and bike-friendly pathways, easy access to public transit and sustainably dense development.

Catalyze Silicon Valley—a nonprofit that drives public engagement to encourage cities to build sustainable, vibrant and equitable projects—was in constant talks with Strangis Properties, the developer of 259 Meridian.

“Catalyze SV engaged us early on and was very helpful in asking us and helping us improve on the project relative to things important to them, including density, parking and development,” said Strangis Properties CEO Jerry Strangis, who has worked on some of the most recognizable structures in Silicon Valley, including Communications Hill, McCarthy Ranch and Hewlett Packard.

Catalyze SV Executive Director Alex Shoor said his group has never worked with developers that have been as responsive as Strangis Properties, noting that the company stayed engaged with the community and expressed willingness to make changes to the project based on public feedback. “They keep working hard to be very responsible of the things we’ve asked them for,” Shoor said.

To wit: within the last two weeks, Strangis Properties earned rave reviews from Shoor as 15 percent of the on-site homes will be set aside as affordable—a change from the original plan. The micro-units will each span 400 square feet, and thus will be easier to afford and less expensive than the regular units on site.

Catalyze SV’s Project Advocacy Committee is made up of community members who identify, vet and lead advocacy efforts around specific developments. The committee uses seven metrics to score a project, including affordability, community, transportation, legacy, intensity/zoning, sustainability and vibrancy.

An average score of 3.5 is required for Catalyze SV to consider advocating for full support for a proposed project. In January 2019, Catalyze SV members gave the 259 Meridian Project a score of 2.83. In their most recent review this past February, however, the Strangis Properties’ proposal was bumped up to a 3.66 score.

Shoor said the score would be higher if it took into account the on-site affordable housing, which was added only recently.

Catalyze SV members said they liked the project’s commitment to fewer cars, the number of affordable housing units and vibrancy—that is, the diversity of land-use configurations, such as the 2,256-square-foot on-site plaza with seating and public art.

“It’s a really excellent project and needs to get approved,” Shoor said in a phone call earlier this week. “We want to see it get approved.”

A collective effort from the likes of Strangis Properties, Catalyze SV, neighborhood associations, city staff and council members helped make 259 Meridian “as good as possible,” Shoor said. To get to this point represents a milestone of sorts, he added. However, Strangis said even if the council approves the plans, this is just the start.

“We still have to go through the building department, and we still have to maintain financing in this difficult post-COVID market,” Strangis said. “It’s more difficult these days, so there is still lot that needs to be done.”

8 Comments

  1. Putting aside the noise that we must abide on a daily basis that massages our amygdalas, this story is signal and of great importance. The entire community would benefit from more background. I am of the belief that lack of housing is the root cause of many of our social issue, as we are raising two populations of student achievement, arising from issues of location and habitability. This has and will continue to result in massive generational relative poverty which is a recipe for increased crime in males 16-25.

    Some things that would be interesting to know.

    How long will the project take from conception by Strangis Properties to expected completion, particularly how long was this negotiation?

    Is Catalyst SV a de facto gatekeeper for development in the Bay Area going forward?

    Is this the best model to meet the 450,000 new homes we must hit in the next decade (according to the State) given Strangis is the must responsive developer and this project was 266 units?

    Can Strangis do 1000s more of these projects following this scheme to allow us to hit these requirements?

    Did Strangis take a haircut on this deal out of generosity, or were the numbers inline with alternate projects they could have engaged in?

    Because if it takes the nicest, least greedy developer 5-10 years to build 266 units, we have set the bar at the wrong height. And that is more damaging than a cough, a bad cop, or a rubber bullet.

    • We don’t need more housing. San Jose is too crowded and people need to leave.

      San Jose

      The slum of Silicon Valley

      • That is fair, but that needs to be said by the leaders of the community honestly, firmly and consistently as it is clear it is the intention to not build. All this talk and pandering is ruining lives.

  2. It’s my understanding that this project does not provide adequate parking to accommodate all 226 units. This portion of Meridian is a narrow two-lane street with no parking on either side.
    The surrounding Shasta-Hanchett Park neighborhood will bear the brunt of the street parking that this complex will generate. The only option for these neighbors to mitigate the inevitable parking problem is to petition for permit-only parking.
    There are no trolley stops near enough to this complex for its residents to rely entirely on VTA instead of a personal vehicle. Approving projects like this without enough parking impacts quality of life in nearby neighborhoods, but the City Council doesn’t seem to care.

  3. > the city’s West San Carlos Urban Village plan

    OH! It’s an urban VILLAGE!

    Like with a village blacksmith! And a town crier! And a baker and a candlestick maker!

    How quaint.

    > Hallmarks of urban villages include
    – pedestrian and bike-friendly pathways,
    – easy access to public transit and
    – sustainably dense development.

    Bike paths? Public transit? Density (aka “crowding”)?

    Will there be a unicorn petting zoo? How about a police substation?

    I don’t see any rich people or politicians living there.

    I don’t see any families living there.

    Warehousing for urban Democrat voters.

  4. So what about the traffic between Park and W. San Carlos on Meridian. It already is horrendous at times. along with other developments on Race in the same area it will highly impact normal traffic. It would be great if everyone walked, biked or took public transit but there isn’t even any light rail within realistic distance, Are they planning to put trains down the center of San Carlos Street. I wonder which crytal ball someone is using to see the future here. The Shasta Hanchett Park and Rose Garden areas will be highly impacted, people already speed down our residential streets and surely this would add regardless of how much walking and biking they do.

    • Amen Tom!

      I failed to mention the big project planned for the old Race Street Fish block. Race is already plagued by speeders with modified (AKA amplified) exhaust systems along with backed up traffic during commute periods. It’s only going to get worse with a large housing project added to the mix.

      This town can’t seem to shake its identity as the bedroom for Silicon Valley. Other cities need to step up and build some of this stuff. Desirable neighborhoods are being ruined by a city council that is hell bent on fixing one problem that isn’t San Jose’s alone to resolve, and thereby creating multiple quality of life issues for those neighborhoods as a result.