Sneak Preview of Public Market

San Francisco has its Ferry Building. San Jose will soon have its “Market.” Detailed plans of the project were unveiled last night in the adjacent Theatre. Among the attendees were potential tenants, local business owners, and neighbors who want to see how their neighborhood might change.

The Market will consist of 18,000 square feet, divided into small- and medium-sized shops on a property owned by the McEnery family. The troubled Redevelopment Agency has provided some $6 million in loans and grants to help get the project off the ground. No chains will be allowed to participate in the market, which is hoped to become a casual gathering place for local residents to buy a wide range of products they can’t find anywhere else.
Read More at the Mercury News.


  1. This new development can’t open up fast enough.  As a resident of downtown it will be great to have an additional place to shop and hang out.  Hopefully this will also bring more people downtown who addition will also patron exisisting local businesses.

    • I also spend a lot of time downtown since I work on Market Street and live nearby. As an urban planner (no, I am not connected with the project), I think the plans for this project they are spot on. The way they are integrating the Peralta Adobe house and rebuilding the western side of the public parking structure on San Pedro will completely change the feel of the area for the better.

    • Paul, I agree! I think a public marketplace is much needed in our downtown!

      My fervent hope is they encourage other types of businesses besides the “ultra lounges” and “hookah lounges” that are now popping up like weeds. Enough of those!

      How about a bookstore similar to Keplers in Menlo Park and another one like the East/West store in Mountain View? And while we’re at it…a flower shop? A coffee hang out that serves authentic chai and sponsors local talent to make their music…the possibilities of creating public places and spaces where people can chill and converse are endless.

      And speaking of public spaces and places, don’t forget native plants and flowers that will attract birds, bees, and butterflies!

      Sign me, Thinking Positive and Feeling Hopeful,


      • Tina,

        I agree about the need to encourage different businesses to open up other than what we have become accustom to seeing.  It would definitely encourage a more diverse crowd including families to patronize Downtown.

      • This is not a proposal for a public marketplace nor a “public place or space” at all. It is a proposal for a privately owned space where the rights of the public can be restricted by the property owner – for example the rights of people to advocate political positions, circulate petitions, etc. This is another example of in modern urban design advocating the privatization of what was once public space.

        Just take your protest sign to Santana Row and see how many seconds go by before you are ejected. This is going to be more of the same.

        There will be plenty of opportunities to spend your money, but any other activities (bringing a sandwich from home to eat, for example) would be only allowed with approval of the owners.

        • This area will become more public than it ever was before (at least in our lifetimes).  The Peralta Adobe used to sit in someone’s backyard and was completely innacessible.  Even now, it’s only used for an occasional field trip.  Also where the heck did you get the idea that you would be kicked out for bringing a sandwich.  They wouldn’t even do that at Santana Row, let alone a project like this.

        • Actually, the Peralta Adobe is used much more than “occasionally,” and has been used almost daily for more than 10 years.  During the school year it is occupied every Tuesday through Friday, and many Mondays, between 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. by museum staff and local Santa Clara County elementary school students and their parents and teachers.  Due to insurance limitations and child safety requirements the site is closed to the public during those hours, but is available for guided, pre-scheduled tours outside of those hours.  The site is also a popular event venue.

          The public market is an idea that could bring a lot of good to San Jose, if the city and developers would respect the historic dignity of the Adobe and surrounding yard, and the real need of San Jose teachers, parents, and museum staff to keep the students safe.  Safety for the students means they must have exclusive use of the yard and museum while they are there, due to the nature of the surrounding area of downtown.  New business would bring new money to the city, but increasing tax monies shouldn’t be pursued at the risk of San Jose students’ safety.  The current plans for using the Peralta Adobe yard as a lunch courtyard for market patrons and the general public will jeopardize the security of the site for the use of children.

          The tentative plans for the public market currently include walkways and picnic tables inside the Peralta Adobe yard that would be open to the public while the students are using the space, and after hours.  The San Pedro Square neighborhood is home to careless, destructive, and violent people as well as regular citizens, and the Peralta Adobe and Fallon House have been vandalized more than once in the last 10 years.  Museum staff often find homeless people inhabiting the site, even with the gates locked overnight.  The public market’s use of the site will not improve this situation, but may make it worse, giving unrestricted access to the site and museum before, during, and after the students are there. 

          Opening the yard to free access by the public while students are present is a child safety disaster waiting to happen, in the opinion of many San Jose teachers, parents and the museum staff. Local parents and teachers aren’t comfortable with strangers watching their kids at their field trip activities as if they were circus entertainment! The yard is not large enough to allow for separate lunch and student activity areas, so the students would be in constant contact with the market lunch crowd in the yard.  The current version of the plans also calls for paving the yard, and removal of the historic trees and the re-created 18th century herb garden which provide supplies for the students’ educational activities, as well as add beauty and historic ambiance to the site, in order to make space for the new walkways and tables. 

          The general idea of a public market, with year-round produce stalls, can be a good thing for downtown San Jose, but the new market must be a good neighbor to the older occupants of the surrounding lots, and the must be willing to be exceptionally flexible and accommodating where San Jose’s kids are concerned.  The current plan does not indicate that, and if it is carried out, the only site in Santa Clara County to provide hands-on activities for kids in a historic setting, at a price that local schools can afford, will have to eliminate all students’ visits to the museum.  The Redevelopment Agency and the owners of the market will have every third and fourth grade teacher, every third and fourth grade student, and every parent of a third or fourth grade student (for the past 10 years) in the county at their throats!  The plan needs a lot of adjusting before it can be fair to all concerned.

        • I’m sorry but one of the most historically significant structures in all of San Jose shouldn’t be given exclusive use to students as it is now. It is unrealistic for anyone not participating in a field trip to have access to that building today. Both my wife and mother are gradeschool teachers, and I can still honestly say I would rather have the building accessible to everyone and sacrifice a few field trips.

          I’m sure areas will be roped off during field trips and that should be good enough. Do they shut down public libraries when students have field trips there? Also it’s not like the area is a crack den… and if anything it will be substantially safer after the public market opens than it is today.  The only reason why homeless people occasionally hang out there today is because it’s a ghost-town and nobody bothers them.  The second thousands of people start patronizing the area, they will disappear.

          I’m sure in the end it’ll all work out and everyone will be happy. Don’t start freaking out before the plans are even finalized.

  2. It will be great to have a marketplace in downtown and my family looks forward to going to it but

    Unfortunately this project brings up troubling questions about

    – Council’s continuing poor financial judgement after the project showed mostly low income jobs and few new taxes and except for completely obvious political insider favoritism would not have been approved

    – the project shows clearly why San Jose has years of budget deficits after 100’s millions of RDA and city taxes have been wasted by insiders projects while taxpayers have receive few jobs or new taxes in return

    – Dean Monroe, Tom’s Chief of Staff, former Chief of Staff advisor to Chuck and Chief of Staff for Redevelopment has major conflict of interest when RDA gives Tom more $$Millions for downtown McEneryville

    – Just because Nora took up banner of open government and questioned why RDA was spending $ 6 million for political purposes does not mean that taxpayers don’t question poor judgment of city staff for recommending and Council approving another poor return insider project

    San Jose will continue to be small town conflict of interest – McEneryville, Swensonville or Insiderville and NEVER balance it’s budget or have open transparent government or accountability – UNTIL insider favoritism, conflicts of interest and political payback projects are NOT constantly recommended by staff and Council approved

    You can fool some people sometimes but you can’t fool all the people all the time.

    Taxpayers need to Get Up, Stand Up for their rights
    as Bob Marley song said ( ) and See the Light and Don’t give up the Fight

  3. I can predict the comments to come, here is my summary:

    “Something something…. downtown sucks…. losers lowlifes…. bla bla bla…. negative negative….. Downtown is dead….. McEnery is a crook….. I hate downtown….. it will be a disaster…. failure…”

    • > “Something something…. downtown sucks…. losers lowlifes…. bla bla bla…. negative negative….. Downtown is dead….. McEnery is a crook….. I hate downtown….. it will be a disaster…. failure…”

      My sentiments exactly.  And to which I would like to add:

      “Why is it the responsibility of the residents of Almaden Valley, Coyote Valley, East Side, etc. etc. to provide an exciting place for down towners to shop?

      Why can’t they just jump on the Light Rail, or Cal Train, or BART, or High Speed Rail, and take a (HIGHLY) taxpayer subsidized choo choo train to someplace that already provides exciting and desparately under patronized shopping?”

  4. Downtown Guy is right on.

    You encapsulate the biggest problem with local development.  There is always a crew who hates it.  We have a guy in Santa Clara, Mr. Save Santa Clara, who says that no one in Rivermark wants shopping, and also that Downtown San Jose is a playground for Tom and the rest of the “billionaires.”  Turns out everyone in Rivermark wants shopping.  It is the same refrain, they that have no desire from progress, like SCPF, work to fight progress.

    Downtown Guy, you seem like one of the people who work hard, try to support success, and face the political bigots like the ones we have, every day.

    Hang in there.

  5. The McEnery family has provided leadership in San Jose for many decades. The family’s sponsorship of this public-spirited blog has cemented its reputation as a family dedicated to San Jose’s spirit, enterprise, and growth more than any other.

    I was delighted when I saw the rendering and description of this urban market project in the newspaper this morning.

    More people centered facilities downtown, please!

  6. Aside from the few deaf people who live downtown, nobody will use this market.  Why, you ask.  Because no one in their right mind wants to listen to airplanes.  There is an airport downtown that is ruining all attempts to rebuild downtown. 

    Get rid of the airport and you will have a decent market, and downtown environment, for growth and play.

    • Why not just move downtown away from the airport?  It’s about as likely.

      Look, we get your point (especially since you keep making it).  But the city just spent a boatload of money fixing up the airport.  It’s not going anywhere.

  7. When I looked at the artist’s conception in the window on San Pedro St. recently, I noticed that Pellier Park, the historic public park that we are waiting for Mr. Swenson to restore, seemed not to be included in the plan.

  8. I’m glad we’re finally building real places like this, Little Italy and the future Diridon neighborhood instead of dumping money into a statue and saying “this is the place to be because we marked it.” Even a project like the Pavilion mall from the ‘90s tried to be a draw in itself. This new market builds off the existing downtown instead of competing with it. That should be the lesson learned here. A city is supposed to be more than a sum of the parts.

  9. As a consumer, I’m SO THANKFUL that the City is finally providing me with a way to get out there and buy stuff I don’t need. To jostle with diverse peoples and barter with the natives amongst the hustle and bustle! The sights, the sounds, the exotic scents! To use my credit card! To contribute to The Economy! Oh! I’m giddy!

  10. Does anybody else remember the Downtown Retail Pavilion?
    Let’s hope the Urban Market planners are smart enough to look at the previous downtown failures and come up with something that people, average everyday San Joseans, will want to visit.
    The Retail Pavilion as originally a bunch of high-priced stores offering products nobody wanted or needed. The structure is still there, but the original concept had to be changed in order go get tenants, and customers.
    I love the idea of a downtown Urban Market, but I just hope that this time the planners remember where they are: San Jose, not Seattle, New York London or Paris. Keep it friendly, affordable and offer goods and services that San Joseans (not some retail consultant) really want.

  11. I have to wonder if all the downtown pessimists actually want downtown to be successful, or if they want to see every project fail because they enjoy self-hating and being the cancer of San Jose.

    Downtown is already a wonderful place… and for those who haven’t realized it yet maybe it’s time to either step out of your bubble or find another place to berate because your comments are getting really old.

    The public market is just another step (of many lately) in the right direction for downtown. What it needs is constructive comments like Tina’s about what we want to see. The glass for downtown is already half full, and we get to determine how high it’s going to go. It’s the heart of our city so why don’t we help it achieve its full potential.