The Almaden Ranch Retail Center is gearing up for an amazing expansion. Arcadia Development Company has owned the development and the last piece of land zoned for retail on Blossom Hill Road for over three decades.
In recent news, Gerry De Young, president of Ruth and Going Engineering, representing Arcadia, has revealed their ambitious vision for the 45-acre vacant parcel, leaving the local community curious.
The 45-acre land is allocated for 350,000 square feet of retail and 500 housing units.
He stated, “We would like the city to change the zoning to full retail to encompass several stores, including a big box store, cafes, and possibly a hotel, totaling 400,000 square feet.”
As the news spread, the Almaden Community Center became a center for discussion. On March 14th, more than 50 people gathered to seek clarity on the future and development plans of Almaden Ranch Retail Center.
It was previously utilized as a pumpkin patch and Christmas tree lot. Now, the development site has impressive potential to become an exciting retail hub.
According to De Young, the project completion is estimated to have a five-year timeline. During this period, many store owners will test the water and see if their stores and offerings will fit appropriately. It is a major occupancy issue that might delay the running of this retail center.
Even though the prospect of expanding this space into a retail destination is exciting, many locals have voiced their concerns regarding traffic congestion.
Highway 85, Blossom Hill Road, and Almaden Expressway already experience heavy traffic, leading to longer commute times. Unfortunately, with these ambitious development plans, the situation is bound to get worse.
To address these concerns, De Young and officials from the San Jose Department of Transportation and the Santa Clara County Department of Roads and Airports shifted their attention toward the possible measures to alleviate the anticipated traffic issues.
It was bought to the attention that the Santa Clara County Department of Roads and Airports has already devised a plan.
The plan is intended to improve Almaden Expressway by stretching it from 400 feet north of Branham Lane and 400 feet south of Blossom Hill Road.
Some of the proposed improvements incorporate the addition of a traffic lane in both directions, modifications to traffic signals, enhanced facilities for pedestrians and bicycles, and an extension of the existing sound wall. These measures will streamline traffic flow and augment safety in the area.
Even with possible solutions, many attendees needed to be convinced and questioned whether these measures were effective. One man voiced his concern saying, “Add another lane, and there will be just that much more traffic.”
Moreover, local drivers are already finding it difficult to navigate the lanes on Highway 85. Switching lanes in the morning and during rush hours will become more difficult by adding another route. It will lead to confusion that poses a major safety risk.
Another significant dilemma pertains to roadway responsibility. The developer, Arcadia, plans to take responsibility for the roads surrounding the development.
Arcadia offered a solution to extend Cherry Avenue to Sanchez Drive. As a result, the city will have an alternative route for Blossom Hill traffic, avoiding the often congested Blossom Hill/Almaden Expressway intersection.
However, the developer must be mindful of the city policies regarding traffic improvements.
The development plans are also considering environmental impact. This is why De Young and this team are currently devising a report about the effects on the environment.
With the plan already in motion, this report will highlight the alterations required and what the developer needs to do before venturing into this project completely.
In a statement, Gerry De Young stressed that the cost of the Cherry Avenue extension is affordable. Furthermore, it will not pose a hurdle to the overall project completion. Moreover, this efficient development firm has also devoted resources to constructing a 100-foot riparian corridor setback.
City development plan
Let’s explore the city’s planning, concerns, and budgeting. We will also look into the step in motion for the project’s completion.
While funding details are still being explored, Manuel Pineda, acting deputy director of San Jose’s Department of Transportation, recognized that the city is in the early stages of determining the necessary financial resources.
They are also still determining the percentage of funds they will receive from the state as regional grants. “It will be at least ten years before the city can do anything financially,” Manuel added in a meeting.
Jean Hamilton, planning division manager, stated that the city’s planning department is diligently working on its internal draft EIR. However, it will not be made public for another two months.
Moreover, the city is also trying to work on a plan to begin the development without creating a hassle for the residents.
The city will either build Chenowyth Bridge or use Thornwood as an alternative. Even though there is a lack of analysis, using Thornwood is expected to offer higher flexibility for traffic.
The proposed development has sparked a debate amongst locals. However, according to the attendees, the city does not plan to add a light rail, even though it can potentially remove bottlenecks.
Others argued that additional retail spaces are unnecessary. It was suggesting that the existing retail options available in the area are sufficient to satisfy the locals. Some attendees emphasized the need for more recreational areas like parks and sports fields.
With these discussions, Councilwoman Nancy Pyle highlighted the importance of generating additional sales tax revenues for the city, given the recent budget deficits.
She also suggested that the Alamden Ranch Project has the potential to generate maximum revenue. This is why it should be the premier retail corridor.
However, not all attendees shared the same enthusiasm. Some attendees recalled similar ventures that failed in the past. These individuals suggested a viable replacement for bog box stores rather than replicating retail options.
The plans for Almaden Ranch Retail Center are still in progress. Arcadia is determining which stores to include in this transformative expansion. However, they want to add Lowe’s in this center even though there are similar stores nearby.
Councilman Don Rocha states that he favors an investment but still wants to map out some decisions. However, the majority of the locals do support this new development.
However, they do not want the same stores accessible on Blossom Hill. Future meetings will be held with the developer to discuss the details further.
This transformative journey will only be a success if factors such as traffic management, economic viability, and the needs of the locals are balanced.