The Importance of Santana Row

Santana Row will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year. It has provided a new destination for Bay Area residents as well as additional tax revenue for San Jose.

Santana Row is a unique place that draws people from outside of San Jose and has people talking about it across the country. People I know who typically did not visit San Jose years ago do frequent Santana Row today. The same visitors spend money while enjoying themselves in the 95128 zip code. The cultural diversity at Santana Row is amazing, with nearly every nationality represented and many first-generation immigrant families strolling The Row day and night.

To some it is a “Disney Downtown,” because it was fabricated from the ground up. To others it was a development that slowed down the potential of our own downtown. One could argue that an expanded Valley Fair mall did more to impede retail growth in downtown.

To me, Santana Row is a success. As much as I enjoy urban centers like our downtown, I also enjoy the sheer intensity of Santana Row with approximately 1,000 on-site residents and a hotel, offices, restaurants, marquee retail, movie theater, tall buildings, etc. All of these things together make Santana Row unique.

I have heard Santana Row brought up many times in reference to urban planning, and that it is ideal for pedestrians—there something interesting to be seen by the walker. Residents across San Jose often voice opinions about potential new developments in their own neighborhood and ask if they could get something like Santana Row. It would be nearly impossible to replicate, however, the principle of significant housing over retail and office is a good one and promoted in our newly adopted General Plan.

The millions in sales tax revenues generated from Santana Row is often discussed and the good fortune it brings San Jose. One example is when people buy a Tesla car from the store at Santana Row. The Tesla store at Santana Row has broken foot traffic records and is second in the world for actual sales of the electric car out of nearly 20 stores worldwide. The assessed value of this parcel and surrounding parcels skyrocketed through private development, which brings property tax revenue to many levels of government.

Besides direct sales tax and property tax revenues, Santana Row provides the opportunity to capture high-paying jobs through the development of substantial new office space. On Tuesday, the City Council will consider approving a large office building at Santana Row instead of housing. This new 240,000 square foot office building will provide an attractive option to companies locating in San Jose. Some companies will view Santana Row as a perfect fit for their employees and clients, because they can simply stroll to great amenities. Also, the opportunity for a company to have its brand shown with massive visibility is better than an office park.

As other cities to the north have developed new office parks, this impedes San Jose’s ability to draw in new, fast-growing companies from the peninsula that are searching for office space. The new office parks to the north entice companies that are looking for new space that in the past would have gone to North San Jose. However, Santana Row is a true differentiator, as the new office parks in other cities have virtually nowhere to go for the employee by foot—only by car.

The net new job potential of Santana Row is why I strongly opposed the rezoning of land last year from commercial to residential adjacent to Santana Row. Keeping the space open for business provided another opportunity for a potential corporate headquarters.

I still root for our downtown—especially August 10-12 for the Jazz Festival—but we should not miss opportunities at Santana Row.

Pierluigi Oliverio is a San Jose councilmember for District 6.


  1. PO,

    Santana Row is one of the few good things the city has done.  Probably because it does not allow drug dealers, gang members, prostitutes to ride light rail like it does to downtown.

    Business opportunites would bring much needed tax income to the city.  Who will pay for the buildings?  No RDA so what secret slush fund will it come from?

    I like the idea!  Why does Chuck not disclose info on meeting with MLB, so much for transparency AGAIN!

  2. The burglars apparently like the opportunities at Santana Row too… 85% increase this year and SJPD is cutting the burglary unit. Measure B has working out well for the taxpayers in your District Pierluigi?

  3. Santana Row is the worst thing ever to happen, along with Valley Fair, to San Jose.  Santana Row is what destroyed downtown and made San Jose a cousin to Fresno, another city without downtown.  It has a tower district just to the north of downtown.  Santana Row and Valley Fair need to be shut down in order for San Jose to have a downtown that’s alive!It also needs alot of new housing, too. Not very many people in the world like this suburban lifestyle with no downtown.  Go anywhere around the world, even in Latin America and Asia, and you’ll find a thriving downtown.  Haven’t you been to Australia, Europe, Canada and even other cities in the U.S.?  San Jose is a suburban laughing stock, a Detroit of the 21st century!  Even Detroit has a nice and lively downtown now.  Back in the 80’s, it had rundown and dead downtown just like San Jose does today.  Shame on San Jose and PJ Oliverio!

    • “San Jose is a suburban laughing stock….”  Perhaps they laugh because our benighted, slimy politicians, developers and lobbyists have spent three billion dollars, $3,000,000,000.00, on a Downtown that still has nothing going for it!  You might want to reassess your thinking – government does not get its money from the tooth fairy; it comes from hardworking taxpayers.

      • I hear you.  You don’t invest on a downtown if you’re not going to really focus on it and not stab it in the back by approving the expansion of Valley Fair and allowing developer to build Santana Row that eats up most of the competition from downtown. You just got to stay with the program by building alot of new housing to follow up on its $3 billion investment it made on downtown and not allow something like Santana Row and other retail center to suck the life of downtown.  You’re absolutely right that this city wasted tons of money on something that they’re now 0 committed!  You just can’t have a nice, vibrant downtown that’s alive when you have something like Valley Fair and Santana Row being so close to downtown and suck the life out of downtown.  What a hypicritical city!  What a waste!

  4. It’s so sad that Santana Row is a model for urban development out of San Jose, not downtown like San Diego, Seattle, Denver, Portland and San Francisco.  Those are better cities than San Jose because their downtowns are role model for urban developents.  San Jose fumbled the ball when it was tempted by developer for tax revenue.  The city sold its soul out to a developer with promise of lots of money to the city.  A vibrant downtown could have produced more money to the city in the long run than a phony concept of a retail district. If it weren’t for Santana Row and an expanded Valley Fair, downtown San Jose would’ve been revived and could’ve been a role model that the whole could be proud, not in despair as it is today.  High Tech companies are flocking to San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and Chicago because of vibrant downtowns with urban appeal.  San Jose has been losing out because it doesn’t have a vibrant urban core/downtown.  San Francisco is The Real Capital Of Silicon Valley!  Good job San Francisco since San Jose lost its opportunity by sticking to that same old boring suburban pattern that no “Y Gerations” want.

    • Valley Fair and Stanford Shopping Center where both dumps 25 years ago.  Look at them now. Where either of those, and Santana Row ever part of a redevelopment district?

      With all the money spent on downtown, you’d think there’d be some tangible results.  Downtown’s problem was never that public dollars were diverted to Valley Fair and Santana Row.  Downtown has been a black hole for public dollars, and continues to be a black hole. 

      Maybe if Bart High speed rail shouldn’t be called the “train to nowhere”  Bart to downtown San Jose is the train to nowhere.

    • @ city blue – you are aware that the City tried just what you propose, are you not?  And that attempt at a Santana Row type development (called “The Pavilion”) failed miserably? 

      And you are aware that the city tried back in the 1970s to turn San Antonio Street into a shopper-friendly street mall?  And that failed miserably as well?

      Your ideas, while meritorious, have already been tried multiple times, and have failed multiple times.  Had those developments at VF and Santana not come to pass, they would have been located on the west side of Winchester Boulevard, and all that tax revenue would be flowing into Santa Clara instead.

      Forcing people to come into a downtown area (like you suggested up above with your “Santana Row and Valley Fair need to be shut down in order for San Jose to have a downtown that’s alive” comment) may very well force those people into a downtown area, but it won’t be San Jose.

      • No no, the city made its worst mistakes in history by approving the languishing Valley Fair mall back in 1986 at the same time buiding a small retail pavilion with not much to offer.  First, the city should have regional cooperation with smaller cities, where the city would share revenue and wealth with its smaller neighbors, so it would not build a competing mall with San Jose.  Secondly, they should’ve built a bigger mall with more office/housing density at the same time instead of half-build the downtown with surface parking lots remaining in the area. In 1998, Mayor Hammer screwed up again by allowing Valley Fair to expand again, along with Santana Row, further gutting the downtown area in the stomach hard and really killing it.  The city should’ve gotten its priority staight and taken care of all its rival by offering revenue sharing program, and focus all the growth downtown and saying no everything that’s not related to downtown!  The city really screwed up big, big time!

  5. Have you been to Santana Row after 9:30 pm on a Friday or Saturday night? First of all the bars over serve their patrons. Then about 12:00 am it becomes fight night. People vomiting, drunks fighting, it’s a mini war zone. Pull up the crime stat’s for that area you will be amazed.

    Nobody talk’s about the traffic problems it creates over summer and the holidays.

    Why do think they employee so many off-duty San Jose Police officer’s.

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