The project could bring dramatic changes to both downtown San Jose and the university, in the view of Kelly Snider, SV@Home board member, director of the real estate development certificate program and an urban and regional planning professor at San Jose State University.

“The Alquist project will be transformational for the west side of the campus,” Snider said. “The Paseo has so much potential. But a single project with 1,000 homes is absolutely huge.”

Alquist state building complex would be bulldozed and replace with homes for “missing middle”

By George Avalos/Bay Area News Group

Oct. 14, 2022

SAN JOSE — A replacement of the aging and outmoded Alquist State Building site in downtown San Jose could create at least 1,000 residences and provide hundreds of homes for university faculty and staff.

The project, which is being led by San Jose State University, would consist of three towers, two of which would be among the tallest in San Jose, according to information released by the educational institution.

“We’re gaining momentum with this project,” said Charlie Faas, the university’s chief financial officer. “Stuff is starting to happen.”

Early concepts of the development envision several key components for the replacement of the deteriorating Alfred Alquist state building at 100 Paseo de San Antonio, which is a block away from the university in downtown San Jose.

Alquist redevelopment housing towers, 100 Paseo de San Antonio, downtown San Jose, with the proposed project in the center and The Hammer Theater at the lower left, This is a massing visualization of the structures and not a building design. (Multi Studio)

The Alquist redevelopment project’s primary elements are two residential 24-story towers; a third residential tower of 12 stories; ground-floor retail and activity spaces; a courtyard on a podium amid the highrises; and a multi-tiered parking podium, according to a presentation this news organization obtained from San Jose State University.

A “minimum” of 1,000 housing units would be accommodated within the three towers, stated a university fact sheet that was obtained by this news organization.

Of these 1,000 residences, “500-plus apartments” would be set aside as “dedicated workforce housing for SJSU-affiliated individuals and households at below-market rates,” according to the fact sheet.

While a significant amount — even if inadequate, according to some experts — of affordable housing is being built for people in low-income brackets, not enough is being built for middle-income residents.

There is a huge need for housing for the missing middle,” said Bob Staedler, principal executive with Silicon Valley Synergy, a land-use consultancy. “Very few developers are building for this group.”

Alquist redevelopment housing towers, 100 Paseo de San Antonio, downtown San Jose, street-level view with the Hammer Theater to the left, the paseo in the middle and one of the new towers to the right. This is a massing visualization of the structures and not a building design. (Multi Studio)

San Jose State administrators, teachers and staffers have become alarmed by the lack of housing for people at middle-income levels. The dearth of this particular type of housing could chase away SJSU faculty and staff from their jobs at the university.

“There is a massive housing gap, call it the ‘missing middle,’ but there is a gap in housing for people who need to be here in the Bay Area,” Faas said.

The project could bring dramatic changes to both downtown San Jose and the university, in the view of Kelly Snider, director of the real estate development certificate program and an urban and regional planning professor at San Jose State University.

“The Alquist project will be transformational for the west side of the campus,” Snider said. “The Paseo has so much potential. But a single project with 1,000 homes is absolutely huge.”

Also vital: Spaces for ground-floor merchants, university officials say.

“We are going to make sure that we activate the first floor, the retail spaces in the project,” Faas said.

The project’s current preliminary budget is $750 million, university documents show. SJSU officials, though acknowledge that plenty of factors could alter these expectations.

“In the current landscape, where uncertainty around labor, supply chain issues, inflation, and financing challenges, the cost of developing the Alquist site will continue to evolve and can escalate given a range of factors, some of which remain beyond control,” a university web post states.

A state environmental quality act (CEQA) review is expected to be complete by the end of 2023 or early 2024, Faas estimated.

The university has produced some visualizations of how the mass of the buildings would look but cautions that these images don’t represent the design concepts for the actual buildings.

The California State University Board of Trustees is slated to review the project concept in January 2023.

“We have yet to head to the CSU Board of Trustees for concept approval and then design will be underway in either spring or summer of next year,” Marcus Ismael, San Jose State’s program manager for facilities development and operations, said in an email to this news organization. “Design would take anywhere from six to nine months.”

Over the two or three years following the Board of Trustees review, a busy period will commence that’s expected to include construction activity. Once all that is complete, leasing of apartments would begin, university documents state.

“We don’t have any residential buildings which combine income levels with this much diversity,” Snider said. “Usually, it’s all low-Income or a mix of moderate-income with market rate.”

The potential diversity could make the residential towers proposed for the Alquist site unique, Snider believes.

“This is more like a microcosm of a real community,” Snider said. “A single millionaire on the 24th floor will share a game lounge with a low-income family of five on the 23rd floor. How cool is that?”

The Alquist redevelopment endeavor is expected to be vital to San Jose State University’s future, officials believe.

“We have to take control of our own destiny, or we will miss our chance,” Faas said. “SJSU students will not have the opportunity to be educated by the high-quality faculty we have here today.”

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