SAN JOSE, Calif. - A newly constructed apartment building model placed behind protective glass in San Jose’s SoFA neighborhood could foreshadow a new way to live.
"It’s a housing crisis that we’re in, in California and the nation. And we wanna be long-term partners to the city and the community," said Aaron Maund, a development manager with Westbank Corp.
Mayor Matt Mahan, D-San Jose, and dignitaries from a broad spectrum of stakeholders Thursday morning gathered in the parking lot of the Pacific Motel Inn on South Second Street.
Their collective smile signaled new life for the inn thanks to a unique private-public partnership. Officials said the centrally located private business would soon be filled with people, and would soon service the public good.
"…(Because it’s used to build) a mixed-income community that is addressing homelessness in an immediate way. But also building a vibrant mixed income communities in one of the most thriving parts of our downtown," said Mahan.
The 72-unit hotel for the next two years will be used for transitional housing for some of the estimated four thousand unhoused residents in the city. The plan includes a yet-to-be-designed improvement to this offering that could be in place by 2028.
In March, construction begins on the 30-story, "L"-shaped Orchard Tower. That will offer 540 market-rate residential apartments, creating a more blended, diverse neighborhood.
"It just kind of speaks to the community aspect of it. It all works together. This is what a community is made of. People from different socio-economic backgrounds. And different walks of life that can all live in one place and coexist. And we think that’s a model for the future," said Maund.
Added Mahan, "We know when people live in mixed-income communities we get better outcomes. We have a stronger social and civic fabric. We empathize with one another. We have a stronger democracy. We also know that folks who are traditionally marginalized do better when living in a mixed-income community."
The hotel will ultimately be torn down to construct two brand-new towers. One will have market-rate apartments. The other will have 72 units of affordable and supportive housing, similar to what the hotel now offers. Officials hope to have the project completed before the decade's end.
Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv