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El Paseo

San Jose, CA

El Paseo
El Paseo

El Paseo

San Jose, CA


Sand Hill Property Company


San Jose, CA


Mixed Use Podium Apartments | Office | Retail


  • Unit Plan Sizes: 650 - 1,200 sq. ft.
  • Number of Units: 994 du
  • Site Area: 35.52 ac
  • Commercial: 160,000 sq. ft.
  • Number of Stories: 11
  • Construction Type: IA


2021 MHN Excellence Award

2021 Best In American Living Awards


Once thought to have been replaced by suburban malls and shopping centers, a core need has remained for communities beyond economic waves and online shopping impacts: the “Main Street” hub.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 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 for a space to call home, connect and entertain.

At the heart of this signature project was a reimagining of “Main Street” through collaboration, and KTGY was brought in to design four residential units above ground-floor retail space designed by KRP Architects. The architecture is similar but not homogenous, with height applied at different methods and articulation to maintain distinction. The result is a collection of complementary towers with implied connection. Additionally, the spaces between buildings were carefully considered.

The approach was nuanced and designed for the human experience. Particular attention was given to determine the appropriate massing in balance with open space shaped by promenades. Landscape architects were integral in creating indoor/outdoor spaces as well as the connections between them. Courtyards and nodes were positioned to open up where pedestrians could experience a corridor and mitigate canyon effects along the main drive. In some cases, residential towers were deliberately stepped back from the retail base to highlight it. In others, they were shifting out more to better capture shadow or sunlight where appropriate.

The design was heavily focused on driving connection and walkability, with specific attention to the placement of the buildings. 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 below.  The active ground floor with overall project retail at various sizes, from REI and AMC Theaters to a grocer and space to accommodate smaller boutiques, makes the residences more attractive. In turn the residents help to keep the businesses alive. The convenience factor for new residents is that the project creates a neighborhood where the 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 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.”