Shea buys the “Heinlenville” site

This purchase was hinted at earlier, but I was waiting for confirmation.

Shea Properties, one of California’s top residential builders, has embarked on a joint venture with equity partner Ivanhoe Cambridge, a Montreal-based realty firm, to develop the Japantown complex…

Orange County-based Shea Properties intends to develop 520 apartments, along with 19,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, at the Japantown site.

It looks like the specifications of the development may be different from those spelled out by Related and Williams & Dame. Naturally, we can expect to see Shea’s vision for this complex soon.

“This site is a tremendous opportunity,” said Bob Staedler, principal executive with Silicon Valley Synergy, a development consultancy. “Japantown is a highly sought-after neighborhood. It’s a very attractive area. A project here would be very successful.”

Well, I’m glad that someone agrees.

Ivanhoe Cambridge

Shea Properties



Creative Arts Center update

I just wanted to share with you some relatively new visualizations of the Creative Arts Center that will be built in San Jose’s Japantown. This presentation was created by the architect firm Ankrom Moisan and presented before San Jose Arts Commission in January 23, 2017. The designs should be considered updates on previous designs, but this should not be considered to be final. I was not privileged to be present for this meeting. Perhaps those who were, can add some information.

My source:



Looks like the view from Seventh Street.


This looks like the view from the park.

More Corp Yard news

From SJ Economy News:

After 10 years of work to find the best possible use for a major site in the heart of San José’s JapanTown, the City Council close on the sale of the former Corporation Yard.
The sale returns $18.5 million to the City, but more importantly, it paves the way for a top-quality project yielding 20,000 sf of retail space, 520 residential units, and a .75-acre park. In addition, a .75 parcel was given back to the City, to become the permanent home of San Jose Taiko and CreaTV San Jose.

Continue reading

News! Not much, but it will do…

It looks like the sale of the “Heinlenville” property has finally closed (as of the end of March). In other words, the property does not belong to the city anymore… for once in many decades!

Williams and Dame next need to submit building permits, and these will surface on the internet soon enough.

Williams and Dame expects to be breaking ground later this year or perhaps early next year.

Big Delay for Japantown Square??

I’m looking now at the following notice on the City of San Jose Online Permits page:

Amendment to the Development Agreement previously approved. Associated with rezoning files no. PDC15-18 and PD15-055 Consideration of an ordinance to approve an amended Development Agreement between Jackson Taylor Partners, LLC, and the City of San Jose to amend and vest a previously approved Planned Development Zoning (File No. PDC15-018) and Planned Development Permit (File No. PD15-055) within the scope of the Development Agreement. The Development Agreement Amendment will vest entitlements for SEVEN YEARS to develop 520 residential units and 19,191 square feet of commercial space consistent with the provisions of the Japantown Corporation Yard Redevelopment Project Final Environmental Impact Report and subsequent Addenda, the Jackson-Taylor Residential Strategy, and the Envision San Jose 2040 General Plan on a 5.25 gross acre site bounded by N. Sixth Street, E. Taylor Street, N. Seventh Street, and Jackson Street.

There doesn’t seem to be any need for such an amendment, unless it involves adding a delay – in this, as much as SEVEN YEARS!

Construction was scheduled to begin late this year, or early next ear. Locals and residents should have received some sort of final notice by now.

Now, it appears that this project is delayed, once again. Unless someone can come up with other information…

How much retail space is that?

Now we are awaiting the final plan from Related California, WDA and Ken Kay for the Corp Yard/Heinlenville/Japantown Square development – and it should be soon – let’s look at one of the potential opportunities that this development might provide.

Looking at the official Japantown Square website, I see the following suggestion:

Up to 20,300 square feet of new neighborhood-serving commercial space.

I’m definitely interested in visualizing what that might look like. It’s tricky for most of us to imagine what kind of stores or restaurants would fill 20,300 square feet. A tiny curio shop and the smallest sushi bar or something the size of a Walmart!? (Just kidding there.)

Here’s an interesting visual, found at How Big are Big-Box Stores?


Wal-Mart and Target are currently building “supercenters,” which combine their usual array of merchandise with a full supermarket and numerous specialty services from cut flowers to eye glasses. Supercenters typically range from 180,000 to 250,000 square feet, or between 4.1 to 5.7 acres. The parking lots that surround these stores are several times the size of the store itself. Many other big box retail stores—including earlier-generation Wal-Mart outlets, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Office Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc.—are in the 60,000 to 140,000 square foot range. Barnes & Noble and Borders Books stores range from 25,000 to 45,000 square feet, or about the size of a very large supermarket. Free-standing chain drugstores operated by Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS are generally 11,000-15,000 square feet.

As for independent retailers, there’s quite a range. Many Main Street stores are under 1,000 square feet. A full-service neighborhood grocery store might be 10,000 square feet. Locally owned hardware stores generally range from 2,000 to 20,000 square feet. An independent bookstore might be 1,500 square feet.

A growing number of cities and towns are adopting store size caps to ensure that new retail development is scaled appropriately for the community and does not overwhelm the local economy or exacerbate sprawl and traffic congestion. Most communities choose an upper limit of between 35,000 and 75,000 square feet.

I just want to leave you with that. The hypothetical discussion was about Nijiya market moving to a larger facility on the corp yard grounds. Their current building covers a little less than 10,000 square feet, so this alone would be quite a bounty. They could bring it up to the size of their store in Mountain View – leaving their current property open to use for – who knows?

Developer again solicits input from neighbors, shares new concepts

005The developer Related California called a meeting on Wednesday to continue to solicit questions and opinions about their ongoing design phase of the Japantown Square development in San Jose.

Coming to the meeting were around 50 neighbors, community leaders and fans of San Jose’s Japantown to see how development was coming along.

Construction may begin early next year, officials with Related said. This would see completion as soon as late in the following year.

Designers with Related apparently enjoyed explaining how the design would incorporate Japanese motifs; the words “origami” and “tatami” were thrown about with abandon.

It appears that the site will be divided into three zones, which I will call:

  • The Taylor building
  • The Park
  • The Jackson building

The Taylor building.

The Taylor building would be a square structure in the northern section of the property, and would be devoted to the apartment tenants. In the corner on sixth facing the park, Related described a glass “jewel box” that would provide facilities for the tenants.

The design of the park is still open to discussion. Ken Kaye, the landscape architect, floated several ideas. Among them was a “memory path” that would describe a straight line diagonally across the park. As discussed earlier, this would feature several historical artifacts, telling Japantown’s story.

He showed a concept for the Farmer’s Market, which would place the booths around the park in a more organic pattern. The booths shown were greater in number than what is seen today at the market, so there’s obviously room for expansion. The proposed design for the CATV/Taiko building is firming up, although it is not yet complete. Suffice to say that it lacks the “drum set” concept that we saw in earlier sketches.


I have to say I was excited when I saw the southern apartment block, the Jackson building, glistening with glass store fronts at the ground level. It appears that the design is intended to provide retail all along the Jackson Street border, and up along Sixth Street for about 1/3 of the block. These stores or restaurants would face Western Contract Furniture, Sushi Maru and Union Bank on the Miraido building side, kitty-corner to Kazoo Restaurant, and across Sixth Street from Minato, Zonkey and Wenzhou Noodles. I think this is going add a ton of new life to San Jose’s Japantown!