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Plans For Sprawling Urban Village In San Jose Signals Post-Pandemic Economic Recovery

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- Bucking the trend of COVID closures, another major retail chain is putting down roots in west San Jose, the latest sign of a post-pandemic economic recovery in the South Bay.

Sand Hill Property Company based in Palo Alto, has announced Whole Foods as the anchor store for the redevelopment of El Paseo de Saratoga, the shopping center located at Saratoga Avenue and Lawrence Expressway.

If approved, the new Whole Foods store would anchor 165,000 square feet of new retail space, surrounded by 994 residential housing units. The 10.7 acre section would feature 1100 underground parking spaces, and a one-acre park that would be publicly accessible. The project also includes a 6,000 square feet at 1777 Saratoga Avenue.

The residences will be a mix of studio, one, two, and three bedroom units, in towers nine to 12 stories high. Renderings show a main thoroughfare or promenade that can be shut down for special events, with a design "in the vein of Santana Row".

"If you've got a Santana row you can always have advances and additions and tweaks to the model," said Elisabeth Handler, at the City of San Jose's Office of Economic Development and Cultural Affairs.

According to Handler, about 40% of businesses in the city had either closed temporarily or permanently since the onset of the pandemic. At El Paseo, the Whole Foods would occupy the space vacated by Lucky's several years ago.

Last fall, Costco announced it was opening a location at Westgate West, across the street from the El Paseo site, in an unrelated project. Costco will occupy the site of the defunct Orchard Supply Hardware at 5365 Prospect Road, along with the Ethan Allen, Goodwill, Smart & Final, and others.

"Costco is a very powerful driver of retail business in general. It's a hugely important partner to any kind of economic recovery, for the city in general or from one area in particular," said Handler.

Sand Hill declined to comment on future tenants, but the company was "looking to attract a good mix appropriate for market". Current tenants, including REI, AMC Saratoga 14 Theaters, and Ulta, will remain in place.

"We are excited to bring forward a high quality mixed-use project that achieves the city's goals for growth as well as provides new retail spaces including a high-end grocery, vibrant parks and open spaces, and much needed housing to our region," the company said in an emailed statement.

"You can't have all high end and you can't have all restaurants and no retail and no residential. It's the next that is really the critical area. So we have great hopes for this project," said Handler.

The first phase of the El Paseo project should be complete in 3-5 years.


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