El Paseo de Saratoga

In Review

1550 El Paseo de Saratoga,, San Jose, CA 95130

Project Overview
  • Project Type: Housing + Retail + Office

  • Owner/Developer: Sand Hill Property Company

  • Presented to our members: October 2020

  • Re-scored by our members: March 2021

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* Projects go through several phases. Developers submit applications to the City, get their design reviewed, do redesigns based on City & community feedback, resubmit proposals for review, and get approval (though can even redesign after approval)

El Paseo de Saratoga Project Scorecard

Project Overview:

 

El Paseo de Saratoga by Sand Hill Property Company includes 990 homes, 165,000 sq ft of commercial space, including office space in 4 buildings. The residential building includes 149 affordable units, equal to 15% of the project’s total. The project also includes a public park. The development will replace part of an existing big-box retail site adding 1,180 additional parking spots, most underground, and providing pedestrian improvements to the areas around the development. El Paseo de Saratoga is located next to VTA Line 26 & 57 bus stops.

 

El Paseo de Saratoga scored 4 out of 5 overall from our Project Advocacy Committee members.

 

Community Score: 5/5

Sand Hill Property Company has made a genuine, impressive effort reaching out to the neighborhood & meeting with community members. We thank the development team for welcoming collaboration with our Community Engagement Committee to facilitate a community workshop in February 2020. The project has been responsive to adjacent property owners - an important consideration as long as it isn’t detrimental to the broader community’s interests. While our members were not against including a private school, potential impacts from the school was a concern. By going with a housing and commercial-focused development, Sand Hill is more responsive to the community. 

Vibrancy Score: 4/5

With most parking underground, as well as 165,000 sq ft of first and second-floor commercial, El Paseo de Saratoga will be a bustling, mixed-use neighborhood. Our members are glad to see the park re-located to Quito Road with ample trees for shading and a linear stretch that could serve as a future connection to Campbell Ave and Colusa Way. With the pedestrian and public space improvements on the existing surface parking lot parallel to the development, this additional connectivity will significantly improve walkability. We still would still like to see a bike/pedestrian connection to Colusa Way (or at least the potential to add this connection in the future) to increase access. With activation and if made car-free, Main Street can become a community center for Saratoga, Campbell, and West San Jose. With ample parking throughout El Paseo de Saratoga, we encourage the development of public programming, community activities, and family-friendly public space instead of cars on Main Street. 

Transportation Score: 4/5

There’s little way around it: as this is a suburban, car-focused location, we acknowledge the challenges Sand Hill Property Company faces in reducing single-occupancy trips. We appreciate Sand Hill’s desire to implement transportation demand management (TDM) efforts. Yet, there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to transportation. We’d like to see the parking rented independently of residential units to encourage less driving. A focus on bicycling, public transit, and improved connectivity within the site and to neighboring communities could further reduce car trips. To achieve this, we’d suggest the following:

  • One bike parking space for each residential unit. 

  • Additional and secure bike parking for visitors and workers located in convenient, easy-to-access locations. 

  • With a large site, improved bike infrastructure within the new El Paseo de Saratoga will encourage cycling. 

  • Foster a connection to local and regional transit by improving bus stops and making them more accessible to pedestrians.

  • Exploring VTA Smart Passes for residents and employees to prioritize transit.

 

Sustainability Score: 3/5

While this project will build to LEED Silver & provides EV parking spaces, this merely matches what is required under San Jose’s existing building code. We encourage Sand Hill Property Company to explore LEED Platinum certification and increase the number of EV spaces. We are also glad to hear that the development is considering rooftop solar, but we’d like to see more information on the coverage area and expected generation. In general, El Paseo de Saratoga should be bolder in its approach to sustainability. 

Intensity/Zoning Score: 5/5

We’re glad to see a dense development combining homes, commercial space, and jobs. It represents a vast improvement over the site’s existing use. During Sand Hill’s presentation in October, our members preferred a development focus on housing and commercial space to bring in more residents and avoid potential issues from a school. With El Paseo de Saratoga dropping the school and adding 440 homes for residents and 100,000 sq ft of new commercial space instead, this project will have the density needed to create a vibrant new town center. The 990 new homes, when combined with the decision to provide on-site affordability, will add 147 affordable units, a significant amount of affordable housing in the neighborhood. We also appreciate that El Paseo de Saratoga will go beyond ground-floor retail and now includes office and second-floor commercial space. We hope that this space can provide services to residents and have some smaller commercial layouts affordable to small businesses.

Affordability Score: 4/5

Our members are excited to see that El Paseo de Saratoga will have 147 on-site affordable homes after choosing to go with the more housing-focused development. While we like to see developers building as much affordable housing as possible, we also believe that the affordability level (AMI) is essential. Hopefully, El Paseo de Saratoga’s home will be affordable to the extremely-low, very-low, and low-income Area Median Incomes - those most in need. Finally, we’d like to see different sized commercial spaces available, especially small footprint retail that is more affordable to small businesses.

Legacy Score: N/A

Members of Catalyze SV didn’t think this category was applicable to this site.

 
 
Overall Score: 4 out of 5

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