Regarding the south end of Ajisai


Architectural plan from Roem showing southmost corner of developmen

The southmost corner of the Ajisai development is the closest to Jackson street, Japantown’s main street. Some community leaders have questioned the design, apparently concerned that it forms a visual barrier between Japantown and this apartment complex.

From looking at the plans that Roem filed with the City of San Jose, there doesn’t appear to be anything like a wall separating the Ajisai complex from Jackson street. Roem did provide a sound wall (9), which will naturally serve as a buffer between the railroad tracks and the apartments. Perfectly reasonable.

South of the end of the resident parking lot, appears a spot for trash bins, then a “bio-swale” (6) which is a place for precipitation runoff to collect and be absorbed into the ground. It calls for landscape vegetation, which is usually a wet-tolerant plant such as sedge.

Of course, the very southmost corner of this triangle is owned by the railroad company, and consists of ballast gravel on the ground and a utility box that runs the grade crossing. I doubt that SPRR will allow this to be altered.

So as far as I can see, I don’t see any issue with this part of the Ajisai plan.

By the way, Roem’s construction of the Ajisai Apartments appears to be going along smoothly.


Senior housing gets started

First Community Housing is finally occupying the old Corp Yard parking lot to build the new Japantown Senior Housing on Sixth street near Taylor.

We are gradually seeing this block leaving its Ghost Town Days behind.

Cirque du Soleil was storing some of its road gear at the Corp Yard over the winter. Now the circus has moved on, it’s time to rebuild Japantown!


Branagh Inc contractor has their house on the property. To the left, the old Nishioka Fish Market building. Rumor has it that it has been purchased and will be re-habbed, but that’s all I know.


Pacific Mall: Disneyland or cultural center?

It looks like there are plans to build a $100-million Asian-themed shopping mall in the McCarthy Ranch area of Milpitas.

Based on what’s already there, this is likely to be predominantly Chinese-themed. Since San Jose lost its Chinatown due to arson many years ago, and in light of the increased immigration from China recently, this makes sense.

But it raises some questions, at least in my mind.

  • Why is it designed to be an indoor space? I think that the current trend is to emulate a “downtown” environment. Santana Row, for instance, is fantastically successful, and was created when a strip mall was razed and an ersatz European cityscape was created.
  • The South Bay is a stranger to tourism. How will Silicon Valley react to this “Disneyfication (or Disneyization)” of Asian culture?
  • What does this bode for San Jose’s Japantown? Will it divert businesses away in a significant fashion? Will it inspire similar development for Nihonmachi?