Scot in San Jose:

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Santana Row-Streetscape with Mature Oak

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On my recent visit to the Bay Area I had an opportunity to walk a high-profile urban infill project that had been on my radar for awhile.

Santana Row is a 647,000-square foot, mixed-use development in San Jose.  The development is an upscale destination for shopping, dining, living and working. including 834 apartments (615 luxury rental suites, 219 privately owned condos) and 65,000 square feet of office space.  Santana Row replaced the dated Town and Country shopping mall as seen in the before and after aerial photos.

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Santana Row Site Plan 2000

Santana Row Site Plan 2015

The site plan for Santana Row is a simple grid focused on its namesake central boulevard.  Although I found the faux-Parisian architecture a bit trite, the scale and program of the development works well: luxury shops and restaurants line the well-designed streetscapes with apartments located above.

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Santana Row-Passageway from street to ApartmentsApartment tenants can access their buildings from the main street by a series of connecting passageways leading to gated entry courtyards adding to the streetscene.

There are a variety of street cross sections along the central spine, ranging from parallel parking on the northern section to alfresco dining areas hard up against the curb in the southern end of Santana Row.

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Santana Row-Streetscape

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Santana Rows strongest placemaking gestures occur at the end of the central boulevard where the road splits into two, giving way to a wide median loaded with programmed spaces and great activation nodes.  Large specimen oak trees have been retained onsite with outstanding effect, shaping space for satellite outdoor restaurants, Kiosks, playful zones with giant chess sets and area to linger and people watch.  In addition the street accommodates Farmers Markets on Sundays and the odd classic car show on various weekends.

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Santana Row-Kiosk in Central Spine

Santana Row-Chess Garden in Central Spine

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This is of course California where the car is king and unfortunately Santana Row’s carefully crafted pedestrian scale shopping precinct in supported by some 3,500 parking spaces hidden from view.

It is disappointing that the development is so internalized and has largely turned its back on the surrounding neighbourhood – perhaps not surprising considering the surrounding arterials are large capacity stroads void of pedestrian life.

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