'Co-living' concept coming to downtown San Jose

This week, a new report listed San Jose as the most expensive area in the nation to buy a home where the median price is more than a $1 million. Now, there’s an affordable housing alternative called "co-living" coming to Downtown San Jose. City leaders approved the concept on Tuesday night.

At the corner of Bassett and Terraine streets in San Jose, within walking distance from San Pedro Square, a vacant property will soon be transformed into an innovative solution to the housing affordability crisis.

“The idea is to give people entry-level housing into great cities at a price that's a lot more affordable,” said Starcity CEO Jon Dishotsky. 

The project could be the largest co-living project in the nation. Co-living is where residents rent out private bedrooms and bathrooms, up to 18 people then share a kitchen and living area. Rents range from $1,500 to $2,500. 

“Your room comes fully furnished with a bed, linens, pillows, a side table,” said Dishotsky. “Everything you need to move in less than 10 minutes.”

The kitchen comes fully stocked with dishes even olive oil. The idea is popular in big cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Dishotsky said San Jose is a natural investment given downtown is becoming more of an urban epicenter.

“I think the moment is now,” said Dishotsky. “You have so many jobs coming to the downtown region.”

“It’s a trend in the right direction, you are seeing our downtown continue to grow,” said Huascar Castro of Silicon Valley Home. 

Housing advocates call it a good first step but would like to see rents more affordable.

“It’s been very hard for anybody to get a shovel in the ground and really that's what this co-living thing is about,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Right now, we have a lot of developers who are struggling.”

Liccardo said lenders are often hesitant to back big projects given high land and labor costs. The “co-living” concept is a way to build less expensively since the high number of units will offset expenses.

Liccardo said the project helps increase the city's housing stock when demand is high for every demographic including young single professionals. The project is not far from the proposed Google mega-campus.  

“If the Google campus gets built to its full intended scale as we hope,” said Liccardo. “That means we are going to have a lot of employees maybe 10 to 12 years from now. We have an opportunity today to address the housing crisis that we have today. Building more housing that is more affordable is good.”

Starcity is hoping to break ground this summer, looking at a two to three-year construction period. The earliest anyone can move is in 2021.