Once thought to have been replaced by suburban malls and shopping centers, a core need has remained for communities beyond economic waves and online shopping impacts: the “Main Street” hub. Walkable, adaptive and vibrant, bringing together and defining community the Main Street hub serves as an anchor that draws people in for practical and social reasons. For El Paseo de Saratoga in San Jose, California, developer Sand Hill Property Co. drew from these elements with a bold vision to revitalize a local big-box shopping center and make a space to call home, connect and entertain.
At the heart of this signature development was a reimagining of “Main Street.” KTGY had the opportunity to collaborate with KRP Architects on the shaping of the master plan with KTGY’s efforts primarily focused on the design of the four residential towers and KRP focused on the commercial space. The result is architecture that is similar but not homogenous, with varied height articulation and commercial programming to maintain distinction.
El Paseo delivers approximately 160,000 square feet of commercial space and 990 units to San Jose on the site of a well-known shopping center at the intersection of Saratoga Avenue, Quito Road and Lawrence Expressway. Over 3.5 acres of open, green and park space, including 2.8 acres of publicly accessible open space, parks and a sports field, along with a 0.7-acre open space buffer between the existing-single family neighbors, are being incorporated into this urban environment. The adjacent 1777 Saratoga, situated diagonally across from the El Paseo de Saratoga shopping mall, provides two new enhanced pedestrian crossings for better connectivity between the two sites. This site features a combination of market-rate and below-market-rate residences. Amenities include a protected landscaped “lagoon” at the podium and a skydeck with expansive views of the surrounding hills. There is a small amount of ground-level commercial space as well as a public plaza that helps activate Saratoga Avenue and provides a visual link across the street to the larger development.
The master-plan approach was nuanced and designed for the human experience. Particular attention was given to determine the appropriate massing in balance with open space and pedestrian and vehicular promenades. Landscape architects were integral in bringing scale and activation to the spaces in addition to creating connections between them. Courtyards and nodes were positioned to open up where pedestrians could visually and sometimes physically experience landscape relief. In some cases, residential towers will deliberately be stepped back from the retail base to highlight future tenants. In others, they will overhang to better cast shadow or capture sunlight where appropriate.
The towers were grouped to create a circulation path accessible to a community park and revolving around a pedestrian-centric main drive easily zoned for farmers markets or food trucks. Another unique characteristic is that for all four towers sitting above retail, parking garages were hidden either completely below grade or behind the retail base. The active ground floor with the retail component consisting of various sizes — from REI and AMC Theatres to a grocer and space to accommodate smaller boutiques, makes the residences more attractive. In turn, the residents help keep the businesses alive. The convenience factor for new residents is that the new mixed-use community creates a neighborhood where there was none.
Neighbored by existing involved single-family homes, the project straddles the city lines of Saratoga and San Jose. Numerous community outreach meetings were held to engage neighbors and ensure that the development would integrate well. One of the most substantial requests from neighbors was to maintain privacy. Previously, a berm of trees shielded neighbors from truck loading behind the shopping center. An arborist was consulted to maintain the trees, and the truck loading was shifted to a green space. Also, the residential towers were terraced down to provide further privacy. A pedestrian link was created on Quito Road for community members to walk between buildings of different zones to access retail space. The result is that the neighboring community maintained privacy while also establishing some pedestrian-friendly access to their new “Main Street.”
Owner | Developer: Sand Hill Properties
Master Plan Architect: KRP Architects
Landscape Architect (Ground Plane): The Guzzardo Partnership
Landscape Architect (Amenities | Roof Terraces): Petersen Studios
Civil Engineers: BKF Engineers
Mixed Use Podium
Apartments | Office | Retail
Unit Plan Sizes: 650 – 1,200 sq. ft.
Number of Units: 995 du
Site Area: 10.67 ac
Retail | Commercial: 160,000 sq. ft.
Number of Stories: 10
Parking: 1.5 sp./unit + Commercial
Construction Type: IA