A development plan for Phase 2 of the Related Santa Clara project was brought before the Santa Clara Planning Commission on May 27. Approved in 2016, the project proposes 5.7 million square feet of office, 700 hotel rooms, 1,680 housing units, 500,000 square feet of retail, 200,000 square feet of food and beverage establishments and 100,000 square feet devoted to entertainment on a 240-acre site at 5155 Stars and Stripes Drive. Phase 2 proposes office space, a global food market and entertainment district totaling 1.75 million square feet forming a kind of “city center” for the project. Due to the project’s size and many phases, approvals are required for each phase.
One point of discussion at the meeting was that the multiphase project that’s been in the planning process for many years wasn’t designed for any land use changes that may result from the COVID-19 pandemic, which applies to development in general. The pandemic has caused the temporary shuttering of economic activity for months, and without an effective vaccine, it remains uncertain how entrenched the changes may become.
“Why are we building so much office space when in fact a lot of the large companies are reducing their office environments?” posed Commissioner Lance Saleme.
Retail and entertainment spaces have also been heavily impacted by the shelter-in-place order. Planning Manager Reena Brilliot responded that it’s difficult to predict what will happen in the immediate future regarding office space, however the project is designed to be delivered over the course of several years.
A spokesperson for Related Companies, the project’s developer, said that construction on Phase I of the project resumed a few weeks ago and that portion should be complete by the middle of 2023. Construction on Phase 2 is slated to begin in mid-2021 and be completed by late 2023 or early 2024.
“With regard to office space it’s a little hard to predict right now but we feel that with the various competing interests over the next couple of years that things will tend to move back toward a more normal configuration with regard to how people operate,” said Steve Eimer, Related’s Executive Vice President.
The Commission decided to approve the Phase 2 development plan and to adopt the Environmental Impact Report addendum. The plan also included a proposal to reduce the number of parking spots, which several Commissioners said would cause problems without changes made to the project’s Transportation Demand Management Plan. The Commission agreed to recommend that City Council “engage in discussion with applicant to find more TDM measures to ensure ample parking.”
A request for a variance was approved by the Commission designed to reduce the minimum lot width at the rear of 1635 Main Street in order to facilitate access for a detached two-car garage located at the rear of the property at 1045 Civic Center Drive.
Another variance was also approved to merge the two lots into one combined lot. The two lots each contain a one-story single family home.
The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 10.