Nostalgic Cambrian Park Redevelopment Plans Spark Community Concerns
Responding to public comment and city officials’ concerns, plans for the redevelopment of historic Cambrian Park Plaza shopping center have been revised to better reflect the needs of the community, including better amenities for pedestrians and bike traffic.
Famous for its carousel display, the 17-acre site is being redeveloped by Weingarten Realty. Months of discussions and community feedback have led to a revision of the development plans, which are now drastically different from the original plans, according to Councilmember Pam Foley.
In an interview with Foley, San Jose Spotlight reported that the changes will pay homage to the Plaza’s history as part of the future development, better bike and pedestrian access, more open space, and public art installations. In keeping with urban planning needs and community feedback, new plans will incorporate a better balance of residential housing in the mixed use space.
Foley commented to San Jose Spotlight that the “main street feel” of the revised project should draw visitors and keep local dollars in the community. Her concerns were expressed in a letter she sent to the developer in May, which called for a sophisticated approach to the integrated use of space and more open concept, with fewer townhomes.
The new plans are not yet available, but current tenants in the plaza are expressing concerns about reduced retail space that will push out long-established businesses. The developer’s initial proposal included a six-story hotel, senior assisted living, town square, park, and a mix of townhomes and apartments. Only 115,000 square feet were dedicated to retail and entertainment space.
One such tenant is De Tagle Jewelers owner, Alfonso de Tagle. He is not optimistic that his business, which has operated in the Plaza for four decades,will be part of the redevelopment. According to San Jose Spotlight, many retailers are being squeezed out by fitness centers, daycare, and learning academies. With even less space for retail, it could cause even more Plaza retailers to relocate or close.
The delay caused by the redesign of the plans “makes me feel more optimistic in the sense that we’re going to be here a little longer,” de Tagle commented to San Jose Spotlight. “We have no voice for what they do or say at all.”
Part of the challenge facing developers, and by extension the existing tenants, is the “signature project” status of the redevelopment. This status is conferred on development projects inside an Urban Village area that maintain a prescribed mix of commercial space/employment opportunities, housing and transit-friendly features. Weingarten is committed to maintaining the signature project status.
The revised plans are not expected until early in 2020. There is expected to be additional opportunity for public comment once the plans are available.
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