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San Jose housing project crafted as “builder’s remedy” gets bigger

San Jose housing project crafted as “builder’s remedy” gets bigger

SAN JOSE — An affordable homes project being eyed on the former San Jose site of a domed movie complex is getting a bit bigger and is being pitched through a “builder’s remedy” gambit.

The proposed housing development would be constructed at 741 South Winchester Boulevard in San Jose, the site of the former Century 24, a domed movie house, according to documents filed in July with city planners.

The current development plans envision a 264-unit, seven-story residential building at the site, the San Jose planning files show. That’s somewhat larger than a previous proposal for 257 units.

The Century 24 movie house has already been bulldozed. A fitness center at one point had been proposed for the property, but those plans have been scrapped.

The developer is SyRes Properties LLC, according to a July 5 filing with the city. SyRes is a unit of Syufy Enterprises, which for decades owned and operated a string of Century Theaters movie houses known for their domed structures.

The 264 units will consist of 35 studios, 113 one-bedroom apartments and 116 two-bedroom apartments, according to the project plans.

Potentially, 52 or 53 of the units could be affordable, according to a letter written by attorneys with Holland & Knight, a law firm that is representing SyRes Properties in its development efforts with San Jose.

“The project will reserve 20% of its units at rents that are affordable to low-income households,” Holland & Knight attorneys Tamsen Plume and Genna Yarkin wrote in a letter to San Jose city officials.

As a result of this, the proposed complex qualifies as a housing development project “for very low, low-, or moderate-income households,” the Holland & Knight attorneys stated in their letter to city officials.

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The attorneys also notified San Jose officials that the development firm intends to employ a “builder’s remedy” gambit to attempt to speed the proposed housing project through the city planning process at a brisk pace.

The “builder’s remedy” maneuver enables developers to build beyond what local rules would usually allow in cities that don’t have state-mandated housing plans in place as long as a proposed project includes units for low- or middle-income families.

San Jose approved its long-range housing plan in June but has yet to receive a formal endorsement from state government officials. A builder’s remedy endeavor might be applicable when a city housing element has yet to be certified by the state.

As a result, multiple projects are being pitched in San Jose on a potential fast-track basis through the “builder’s remedy” approach. The 741 South Winchester housing development is one of these.

The 741 South Winchester project includes a community room and outdoor space for residents on the third floor. The ground floor includes leasing offices, a gym and co-working spaces for residents, the project plans show.