by Nathan Donato-Weinstein –
Nearly two decades after Cheim Lumber sold its last two-by-four, its almost five-acre site could become a hotbed of wood-frame construction itself.
Fairfield Residential last week turned in a proposal to develop a 315-unit apartment community at 800 W. San Carlos St. The project promises to bring bodies and retail to the key corner at West San Carlos and Sunol Street that in recent years has served as a Hertz truck rental location.
On tap: 23,500 square feet of retail, restaurant and office spaces primarily oriented along the main West San Carlos corridor, San Jose planner Emily Lipoma told me. Preliminary plans show a project ranging from four to seven stories.
The city has been looking to inject new life into the area, with mixed results so far. The biggest piece of that effort, The Ohlone — an 8-acre project with up to 800 units of housing across the street from the Fairfield proposal — has faced numerous challenges lately, and its future is uncertain. The Fairfield proposal represents an entirely new project on a different piece of land.
“What’s proposed is all very consistent with the Midtown and Diridon Station Specific Plans,” said Erik Schoennauer, a land-use consultant who is representing the Cheim family along with Martin Chiechi of Cornish & Carey Commercial Newmark Knight Frank. “The goal is to produce housing to support transit and also bring customers into the neighborhood to support retail along West San Carlos.”
The project is in its very early stages and key elements, such as height, design and retail layout, could still change.
San Diego-based Fairfield Residential has been very active in the South Bay recently, taking on projects in some pioneering areas. It is the developer behind a 200-unit project at North First Street and St. John Street, across from downtown San Jose’s St. James Park. The company generally develops, builds and holds its projects.
A mixed-use project in the West San Carlos location would be the realization of a dream long deferred for the Cheim family.
Robert and Leo Cheim operated the lumber yard from the 1930s until 1997. At the time of the closure, the property had been marketed to mixed-use developers, but without success. Instead, it was leased to a series of users, including an equipment-rental firm and a nursery. (Read an article on the closure from 1997, here.)
In recent years, market forces have brought back apartment builders en masse. Republic Urban Properties and Barry Swenson Builder are currently building Meridian @ Midtown, a 218-unit project at 1400 West San Carlos St.