Heinlenville is named after Johan “John” Heinlen, a German immigrant who leased land in San Jose as a home for Chinese immigrants, many of whom were escaping a suspicious fire in San Jose’s original Chinatown.
As soon as the Chinese welcomed Japanese immigrants to join them, it became the heart of what we know as San Jose’s Japantown. But, like San Jose’s first Chinatown, it eventually fell to ruin. Instead of arson, this time it was the banks and the city. For many decades, San Jose used the remnants of Heinlenville as a “Corporation Yard”, or a place to maintain city vehicles and other equipment.
Well, long story short, it’s coming back to the Asian-American community in a big way!
On August 24, at 6:30, the city of San Jose hosted a community meeting regarding the Corporation Yard at the Northside Community Center. The purpose of the meeting was to review general plans for the Japantown Project so that zoning can go before the Planning Commission in September, and to Council in early October.
Here are some random tidbits:
- Matt Brown of WDA, emphasized one core concept: the “First Thirty Feet”, meaning the area from the curb across the sidewalk. This means enrichment of the environment for pedestrians.
- The development team is envisioning a restaurant of some sort on the corner of Sixth and Jackson, but the actual recruitment of retail businesses is still up in the air.
- The architectural design is not finalized. Probably this depends largely on decisions from the city planning commission.
- Ken Kay, the landscape architect confirmed that every effort would be made to save existing trees. He seemed very versed and enthusiastic about Japanese landscaping and including local artists, such as Ken Matsumoto and Roy Hirabayashi in the design.
- By looking at the plan, it looks like the developers realized that Seventh Street should become the “service” street, reserving Sixth Street for pedestrians.
- As far as parking, it looks like the volume of underground parking that the developers are planning for, is much less that what many members of the public were hoping for. Not that they are hoping to become residents, but apparently they are concerned that this will spill into the streets and eat up parking that visitors, churchgoers and merchants depend on.