The Corp Yard story

Over the years, efforts to develop the City of San Jose Corporation Yard (“Corp Yard”) have taken many twists and turns, ups and downs. The 5.4-acre site continues to enjoy a checkered history:

http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/12341

In June 2004, the Mayor and City Council directed the City Manager and Redevelopment Executive Director to develop a strategy and timeline to relocate the Japantown Corporation Yard. In November 2005, the City Council awarded a $28.8 million design/build contract to relocate facilities to the Central Service Yard.

In January 2006, the City Council/Redevelopment Agency Board approved an Exclusive Negotiations Agreement with Olson Urban Housing to develop the Corporation Yard as a residential mixed use project.

In September of 2006 the City Council accepted a report developed in conjunction with the Japantown Community Congress outlining priorities intended to guide future development of the Corporation Yard site. The priorities included:

a. The Corporation Yard should be a catalyst to revitalize Japantown with retail, urban plaza, performance space, and a strong historical connection
b. Secure a Japantown home for Taiko
c. Establish a senior wellness and youth center at the Boys and Girls Club site
d. Develop and implement a comprehensive Japantown Retail Strategy
e .Develop and implement a Parking Strategy
f. Historical and Cultural Preservation
g. Revisit the Jackson Taylor Strategy

(For the record, point c. has been developed as the Akiyama Wellness Center. It’s now a successful and important part of the community. The former baseball field currently lays fallow, and I predict that it will provide needed parking.)

One of the more recent attempts at making good use of this former storage yard for city-owned equipment took place in 2008:

http://wddcorp.com/news/docs/2008-0108_Mercury%20News%20-%20Japantown%20Stakes.pdf

The article suggests that there was an earlier proposal (and when I find it I will share it here). This 2008 plan is for four towers ranging from six to 15 stories and “tripling” the number of units to 600.
It appears that residents wanted a total of 30,000 square feet of retail, not the 15,000 square feet offered by Williams & Dame.

This theme will continue: the developers want rental/condo units with which they can theoretically recoup their investment, and the community needs a “whole” solution of retail, parking, community space as well as a housing mix.

Well, that love affair didn’t last:

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/2009/02/23/story1.html?page=all

Another developer has walked away from Japantown, a victim of the frozen financial markets and the challenges of turning a city corporation yard into an Asian cultural landmark.

Both sides say ‘the door is still open,’ but neither San Jose city officials nor the principals from Williams & Dame Development tried to extend the exclusive negotiation agreement that expired at the end of 2008.

…Williams & Dame proposed switching the 600-unit housing component from for-sale to rental.

That was about the time that the housing bubble popped. The cost of housing shifted vis-a-vis available rental revenues.

But community remains a universal value.

Notable also is that the “…environmental impact report issued last year sounded alarm bells regarding the traffic generated by such an intensive development…” I’d be interested in seeing the details of this. Seems that since there is little or no business around this property right now, it should be able to be blocked off without massive disruptions.

Then in 2013 we get back in the saddle again:
http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2013/02/15/japantown-project-resurrected-600.html?page=all

This time, the deal calls for rental apartments with a lower height — six stories as opposed to 13 — as well as land for a 60,000 square foot “Creative Center for the Arts” in a project valued at up to $180 million.

The six-story limit recalls that of urban Paris, by the way.

Take a peek at the most recent plan:
corp yard plan

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