Univer­sity pro­poses af­ford­able hous­ing, tech in­cu­ba­tor project

The Mercury News Weekend - - LOCAL NEWS - By Ge­orge Ava­los gava­los@ba­yare­anews­group.com Con­tact Ge­orge Ava­los at 408-859- 5167.

SANJOSE » Santa Clara Univer­sity, in a quest to cre­ate af­ford­able homes and a cen­ter for ad­vanced in­no­va­tions that could turn stu­dents into tech en­trepreneurs, on Thurs­day pro­posed a mixed-use com­plex in San Jose across from the school.

The pro­posal calls for as many as 295 apart­ments to house staff and fac­ulty at Santa Clara Univer­sity. The project also in­cludes a ground-floor tech in­cu­ba­tor to­tal­ing 20,000 square feet.

“The short­age of af­ford­able hous­ing has be­come an acute is­sue af­fect­ing all non­prof­its and ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions through­out the Bay Area,” said John Ot­to­boni, Santa Clara Univer­sity’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer. “This project will help meet the very se­ri­ous hous­ing needs of our fac­ulty and staff while also in­cu­bat­ing nu­mer­ous star­tups.”

The de­vel­op­ment would be across the train tracks from the fast- ex­pand­ing Cole­man High­line de­vel­op­ment, whose ten­ants in­clude up-and- com­ing tech firms such as Roku and 8×8. That prox­im­ity could bol­ster the in­cu­ba­tor, which is a unique com­po­nent of a hous­ing de­vel­op­ment.

“The pur­pose of the in­cu­ba­tor is to of­fer­ways for stu­dents to get to­gether with tech com­pa­nies that are nearby,” said Erik Schoen­nauer, a San Jose- based land- use and plan­ning con­sul­tant who is help­ing to shep­herd the univer­sity’s project through the San Jose city process. “The stu­dents can cre­ate new prod­ucts and start new com­pa­nies.”

The project is called Santa Clara Univer­sity Tech­nol­ogy In­no­va­tion Cen­ter & Ed­u­ca­tor Fac­ulty/ Staff Hous­ing.

The hous­ing cri­sis, punc­tu­ated by home prices and rental rates that have soared, has alarmed univer­sity of­fi­cials. With sky­rock­et­ing costs, more peo­ple are shut out of the mar­ket.

“What was once one of our con­cerns has now be­come our top con­cern,” said Chris Shay, as­so­ci­ate vice pres­i­dent for univer­sity op­er­a­tions.

The univer­sity is also con­cerned that it might have trou­ble re­cruit­ing or re­tain­ing em­ploy­ees if it doesn’t take steps such as this de­vel­op­ment.

“You can’t main­tain a world- class univer­sity and at­tract the most tal­ented ed­u­ca­tors or staff with­out lo­cal af­ford­able hous­ing,” Shay said.

Lo­cated across from the left-field cor­ner of the Steven Schott Sta­dium base­ball field, the de­vel­op­ment would rise on a site that’s oc­cu­pied by some old in­dus­trial build­ings. It would be flanked by ex­ist­ing res­i­dences on Camp­bell Av­enue.

“It is an in­no­va­tive, tran­sit- cen­tric use of an iso­lated patch of prop­erty sur­rounded on all sides by res­i­den­tial struc­tures,” Schoen­nauer said.

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