SAN JOSE — Office and retail spaces in a prominent downtown San Jose residential and commercial complex near the footprint of Google’s transit village might become live/work units under a new proposal.
Vespaio, a seven-story building at 130 Stockton Avenue near the SAP Center and Diridon train station in downtown San Jose, is a mixed-use complex with residences, retail and creative office spaces.
The building features 162 residential units and offers office and other commercial spaces on its first, second and third floors. The commercial space totals 32,600 square feet.
To be sure, the Vespaio complex has managed to attract some high-profile commercial tenants — but the office and retail spaces still remain mostly empty.
Surfaceink, a pioneer in product design and engineering for consumer electronics and tech firms, leased a large chunk of office space in Vespaio, taking about 6,900 square feet of office space on the second floor in 2021.
Mayweather Boxing + Fitness, The Preserve, and Cyclebar have all signed leases on the building’s ground floor, according to Mark Jones, an executive with The Hudson Cos., which is listed in state business records as a principal manager in the real estate entity that owns the Vespaio complex. These leases total a combined 5,100 square feet, based on a site plan in a marketing brochure for the property.
A major challenge that confronts Vespaio and its ownership group is finding tenants for the empty office spaces on floors one, two and three of the mixed-use property, although the vacant first-floor space could still accommodate retail.
At present, the empty office or commercial space totals 7,200 square feet on the ground floor, 8,200 square feet on the second floor and 5,000 square feet on the third floor, a Vespaio leasing brochure indicates.
That works out to about 20,400 square feet of empty commercial space, categorized as office or retail.
The new proposal envisions the creation of 13 more residential units, a total that consists of nine live/work spaces and four studios.
“It’s not surprising that Vespaio is looking to convert empty commercial space into live/work units,” said Bob Staedler, principal executive with Silicon Valley Synergy, a land-use consultancy.
Staedler asserted that San Jose planners have previously turned a cold shoulder to the notion of live/work spaces.
“In my past experience with the Planning Department, they were quick to dismiss the development of live/work units,” Staedler said. “I hope their stance has changed over the last several years.”
The Vespaio proposal would result in a new total of 175 residential spaces, compared with the current 162, the San Jose planning documents show. Windy Hill Property Ventures, a veteran real estate firm, submitted the proposal.
Vespaio @ Diridon might become the new name for the property, according to some information contained in the planning documents.
The live/work units are being planned for the second floor while the studios are slated to appear on the third floor.
The third floor would also add a new fitness center totaling 1,400 square feet.
The dramatic economic changes that have arrived in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak have helped create big chunks of unwanted and empty office spaces in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley.
Downtown San Jose’s vacancy rate averaged 16.9% during the January-through-March first quarter of 2023, according to a recent report from Cresa, a commercial real estate firm. Over the same three months, the overall vacancy rate for all of Silicon Valley was considerably lower at 14.1%.
In contrast to the mostly empty office spaces at Vespaio, the 162 residences are roughly 90% leased, Jones estimated.
That could make the creation of more residential space a winning gambit.
“The city of San Jose’s requirement of commercial space on multiple floors of residential projects doesn’t make any sense,” Staedler said. “Those spaces will not be filled with tenants.”