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Jesse White

Greenbelt Alliance Endorses New Affordable, Green Homes in Downtown San Jose

San Jose – At its meeting on Wednesday, June 11, San Jose’s Planning Commission will be considering a proposal for a new green building providing affordable homes at Second and Keyes. South Second Street Studios is a project of non-profit developer First Community Housing. The development will include 139 affordable homes, reserving some homes for residents with chronic illness and developmental disabilities, and will also include ground-floor retail space.

The developer will be using green building principles to meet the demanding “Gold” standard established by the US Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program. All plants and landscaping on site will be organic and native to the area, and the roof of the development will be home to a butterfly garden and solar panels.

Greenbelt Alliance, the Bay Area’s smart growth advocacy organization, has endorsed the project.

“This is the kind of development downtown San Jose needs,” said Michele Beasley, Greenbelt Alliance’s South Bay field representative. “With gas prices reaching record highs, and climate change on everyone’s mind, it makes sense to build in a way that requires less driving—with affordable homes close to jobs, shopping, and public transportation.”

“Instead of ‘drive til you qualify,’ this offers a smarter, greener alternative,” Beasley added.

First Community Housing will encourage all the development’s residents to take advantage of its transit-friendly location by providing them with free transit passes. Several bus routes are close by, with connections to Caltrain and light-rail.

Since a hotel on the site burned down ten years ago, it has been an eyesore: a fenced-off hole in the ground. Supporters say the new project will improve the area’s appearance and attract economic development to benefit the community.

Additional supporters include the Bay Area Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and the Housing Choices Coalition.

“It can be really tough to find a home here in San Jose. Local businesses need workforce housing, and they know developments like this one will help attract and keep workers,” said Shiloh Ballard, Senior Director of Housing and Community Development at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

First Community Housing has built several other developments in San Jose. Gish Apartments—on Gish Road at North First Street—is a model of mixed-use development close to light-rail, with 35 homes specifically for families; it was also the first multifamily housing development in California to achieve LEED’s “Gold” green building standard.

Jeff Oberdorfer, First Community Housing’s Executive Director, expressed appreciation for Greenbelt Alliance’s endorsement. “Over the past decade, Greenbelt Alliance has endorsed several First Community Housing developments, because our developments are green, near transit, and support working families and low-income people. We’re proud to have their support for South Second Street Studios.”

If approved by the Planning Commission on June 11, the project will proceed to the City Council for final approval this summer.

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