The Valley’s shift from stone fruit orchards to semiconductors to shared economies hasn’t been an altogether linear progression. With construction starting on the Agrihood project in Santa Clara, a working farm will be at the core of the new development, expected to be complete in 2023.
The development model is the first of its kind in Santa Clara and most other cities, offering a total of 361 homes with 181 below-market-rate units, a farm, retail and open space — all on 5.8 acres in the urban core at N. Winchester Blvd. across from Westfield Valley Fair. The 1.5-acre farm will allow residents, many of them seniors in designated low-income units, to grow their produce that would be shared with the surrounding community.
“Agrihood is Silicon Valley’s first-of-its-kind urban farm community, connecting contemporary urban living and affordable housing with San Clara’s agricultural heritage,” said Chris Neale, President of The Core Companies. “At project buildout, Agrihood will deliver 165 mixed-income homes and 181 affordable homes for seniors and veterans, as well as 1.7 acres of urban farm and open space. More than anything, the Agrihood project is about bringing people together and creating a uniquely enjoyable place to live and gather through access to nutritious and sustainable produce from our urban farm and numerous community events. We look forward to welcoming our first residents in 2023.”
The farm may be the project’s focal point, but it may be the affordable housing that has the most immediate impact. Housing affordability in Silicon Valley and Santa Clara is a persistent problem, and the rates of homelessness among the elderly are on the rise nationally. Agrihood will have 163 units designated for seniors at affordability rates ranging from 30% to 60% of the area’s median income.
“The Agrihood Mixed-Use Development Project is unique because it’s on City-owned land and has complementary components of market-rate housing, mixed-income housing, and affordable housing along with the working farm space,” said Lon Peterson, Santa Clara’s Director of Communications. “A project like Agrihood would likely not happen again unless it were programmed on city-owned land, which is a very scarce resource. We are not aware of any other projects proposing something with agricultural components similar to Agrihood.”
Designed by Steinberg Hart and approved by the city in 2019, Agrihood’s urban farm is envisioned as a revolutionary homage to Santa Clara’s agricultural past as well as a way to provide residents with healthy, local food. As the land will be prepared for cultivation long before the first residents move in, they won’t have to wait long to reap the benefits. The farm will be run and managed by professional farm operator, Oakland-based Farmscape and will include programs for residents and the greater community focused on education, health and wellness and environmental sustainability.
The project has garnered $23.5 million from Santa Clara County’s Measure A bond money approved by voters in 2016, $15.7 million by the City of Santa Clara and $50 million from the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee.
A press conference was held on the project’s progress on July 22, and a more formal groundbreaking ceremony is tentatively scheduled for mid-September.