In the world of retail marketing, it is often said that one sign of an attractive and successful business is the lack of enough parking for all of your customers. In other words, such a parking problem can be called a “good problem”.
There are others, however, who say “nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”!
Let’s just say it out loud: Japantown San Jose has parking problems. Nearby residents complain about “overflow”: retail customers searching for available parking and parking in residential neighborhoods. On many weekend nights, the available parking is filled to capacity – although the businesses are ready to see more customers.
We see in the near future, the debut of Wenzhou Noodle House and soon the development of the Heinlenville (“Corp yard”) property. Will sufficient parking be provided by these developments? The crystal ball says “no” – we must not count on it.
When the Heinlenville development finally starts, that lot won’t be usable for parking as it is now – adding to the parking misery.
This is going to take some fancy thinking. Are you up to it?
One thing that San Jose’s Japantown does have is space – here and there, mostly in small amounts. One property, for instance, is north of Taylor, across from Santo grocery. In years past, there was a parking lot on Seventh, south of Jackson; its fate is uncertain at this point. There’s an empty lot and an vacant house next to Happi House, and there are more. These are too small, however, for our purposes.
Many years ago, the site of the Akiyama Wellness Center on 110 E. Jackson Street was occupied by the Boys and Girls Club. Do you remember? Kids used to play softball on a diamond in the field behind the building.
The lot is still there. It’s used occasionally to handle overflow parking during local Japantown’s frequent matsuri (street festivals). It’s not paved, so cars have to drive on the grass. This property is apparently owned by the city at this point, and the city probably receives no revenue from it.
Okay, this is place where I finally get to my point.
Even as a paved, open-air parking lot (as opposed to the enclosed parking garages in San Francisco’s Japantown or downtown Mountain View), this would relieve parking pressure wonderfully for San Jose’s Japantown. Here are a couple of points:
- If (on one hand) there was a lot of parking provided with the Heinlenville development, visitors would tend to stay at that end of Japantown – and established businesses at the other end of town might be neglected. Instead, parking at this lot, visitors would be encouraged to walk the street from parking to the new development on Seventh Street, visiting each unique business on the way.
- Visitors to downtown San Jose could park here and ride VTA’s Light Rail to their downtown destinations. When they come back for their car, perhaps they will see a part of San Jose that they had neglected previously. (Strange but true: Many Silicon Valley residents don’t know that San Jose has a Japantown at all!)