A unique, farm-centered development has been approved in Santa Clara, according to a recent article in the Mercury News. Dubbed the Bay Area’s first “agrihood,” the development will be a farm-centered community that combines housing with farmland. The development just won approval from Santa Clara’s City Council in a unanimous vote. Development will begin next year.
The development will encompass 361 homes and 1.7-acre farm. The location is just down the road from Santana Row, directly across the street from Westfield Valley Fair near the border of San Jose.
There will be 181 apartments that will be priced below market rate, 165 of which will be designated for low-income seniors. It will be the largest affordable housing development in Santa Clara.
Vince Cantore, senior development manager of The Core Companies, a San Jose developer that’s spearheading the project, was thrilled to get the council’s approval. “We’re ecstatic about the council vote,” he said. “We’re one step closer to addressing a very desperate need for senior affordable housing in the community.”
The location of the new development was originally owned by the state. Historically, the University of California used the parcel for agricultural research under the name “Bay Area Research and Extension Center.”
In 2005, plans to convert the site into affordable housing met with resistance from members of the local community who did not want to lose the site’s agricultural roots. The controversy and lack of state funding curtailed that project from ever reaching fruition.
When developing the new plan for the site, The Core Companies set out to satisfy both local residents, who face a severe lack of affordable housing, and the greater community who want to preserve the area’s historical roots.
New housing developments that provide local access to farm-grown food are starting to gain traction. In 2015, a farm-based housing community called The Cannery was developed in Davis. The new farm community in Santa Clara will be the first of its kind in the Bay Area.
In addition to the agricultural area and residences, The Core Companies will include 5,000 square feet of retail space. Pop-up vendors and special events are also planned for the development. A perk of living in the community will be to get food from the farm, and residents will be able to volunteer their time to tend to the crops.
Craig Mizushima, chief impact office of Housing Trust Silicon Valley, applauded the council’s decision not to include a previously discussed addition of 20,000 square feet of retail space. “Our communities are experiencing an unprecedented housing crisis,” he said, “not a retail crisis. We need the housing.”