'Micro' apartments coming to S.J.
By Maggie Angst
The latest apartment building approved just west of downtown San Jose will offer a public plaza, state-of-the-art amenities and an on-site bicycle shop.
But those who might be eyeing a brand-new apartment in one of the city's most sought-after neighborhoods will have to settle for small.
The 226-unit apartment building - approved by the San Jose City Council this week - will include 206 units averaging 400 square feet. The development will be on a 1.39-acre site at 259 Meridian Ave., between San Carlos Street and Park Avenue.
One of the main selling points for potential tenants will be its proximity to San Jose's Diridon Station and Google's proposed transit village, which is expected to consist of 6 million to 8 million square feet of offices, retail and restaurants.
During a council meeting this week, Mayor Sam Liccardo called the project "a great addition to a corridor that is quickly becoming very vibrant." Often called micro-units, the tiny studio apartments have been growing in popularity for the past decade in major American cities like San Francisco, New York and Seattle, where housing is in short supply and very expensive.
Jerry Strangis, a local real es- tate agent and project consultant, touted the tiny studio apartments as "affordable by design." But looking at current rental rates for other studio units in San Jose, Stangis said he still expects the monthly rent for one of the microunits to run about $1,100-$1,200 a month.
"It's definitely a different project from that standpoint, but we're targeting young millennials that want an affordable place to live under the current market conditions," Strangis said.
The development, which is to break ground in early or mid-2021, will feature 1,400 square feet of retail space that is expected to be occupied by a bicycle shop, 162 parking spaces, an upper-floor patio deck and a public square with landscaping, walkways and seating areas.
To encourage tenants to use public transit, the owners will provide them with an on-site bikesharing program and monthly transit stipends or passes, according to the project plans.
Of the 226 units, 20 will be
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two-bedroom apartments and 206 micro-units - 34 of which will be set aside for individuals earning 50% to 80% of the area's median income, or up to about $73,000 for a single person.
The project proposal has been in the works for more than three years, and during that time the developer and architect participated in more than half a dozen community meetings, gathered feedback and used it to make considerable alterations.
The developer increased the number of affordable housing units on the site, added the monthly transit passes for tenants and increased the number of trees and native landscaping in the public square.
Strangis said that not only did it allow the developer to gather more widespread support for the project, but it also "quite frankly made the project better." "This project is the best example we've seen on what happens when community members and developers find consensus on developing the best projects possible," Alex Shoor, executive director of the policy nonprofit Catalyze SV, said during a recent council meeting.