Over the past few weeks, I had been working on a lot of San Jose-related material, after sensing a tidal shift. While I’m not counting out Fremont, I’m also not nearly as optimistic about it as I had been at this time last year. The real estate market and the retail economy make prospects difficult at Pacific Commons, and Warm Springs has myriad issues of its own. So I started going into my San Jose archives, as there was so much detail there that I needed a refresher. This is the first of many posts to explain what the San Jose option is and what it represents. Keep in mind that while San Jose is considered by many in the media to be one of the commish’s “other communities,” no official outreach has been made by the A’s to San Jose.
Fortunately, Katherine Conrad at the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal has already taken care of some of the background work that I had scheduled for myself. In her piece on San Jose’s readiness should the A’s attentions move south, she pointed out that only a few acres remain of the Diridon South ballpark site to be purchased. SJ Redevelopment project manager Bill Ekern noted that the city “assembled about 12 acres of the 14-acre site needed for a ballpark.”
I sent requests to both Conrad and Ekern to find out which parcels remained to be purchased. Conrad responded, saying that she had a map and would furnish it tomorrow. I’ll update the maps below accordingly once I get the info. In the meantime, here’s an overhead view to get you (re)acquainted with the area.
Diridon Station (Caltrain) is one of only two real, multi-modal transit hubs in the South Bay (the other is Mountain View). While BART will brings additional hubs, Diridon is set to become one of the most heavily used transit hubs in the nation with the promise of BART, increased Caltrain service post-electrification, and high speed rail. That’s in addition to Amtrak, Capitol Corridor, ACE, plus VTA light rail and bus service. For a better sense of what the area might look like once HSR is up and running, check out the video below, put together by the CAHSR Authority. The point-of-view is from the new neighborhood to the west of the tracks, with the camera moving north along the tracks. At the midpoint of the video, the northern edge of the ballpark site is visible to the right.
The parcels are laid out in a sort of jigsaw puzzle look. I’ll add another map identifying the parcels that have been acquired and remain to be acquired. The grey areas are Autumn and Montgomery Streets, important one-way thoroughfares through the area. The city already has plans to convert Autumn into two-way, four-lane Autumn Parkway, which will eventually connect north up to Coleman Ave. Currently, Autumn Street dead-ends at the Union Pacific tracks north of HP Pavilion. The project has already been identified by SJ Mayor Chuck Reed as one his leading long-term stimulus construction projects.
Conrad’s article also clarifies an important point regarding the EIR. Minor modifications would require an affirmation of traffic and noise impacts. This would incur a comment period, which would subsequently bring out of the woodwork many of the initial critics of the ballpark plan and EIR. In 2006, the EIR was certified with little fanfare or complaint because the Fremont plan was in its initial, positive stages. Many down here felt the EIR was a lost cause, albeit smart for the city to keep it in its back pocket. Should the A’s officially focus on San Jose, those same parties who felt threatened in a vague way will be spurred on since they’ll probably feel threatened in a real, specific way. That’s not to say that the outcry back then (or in the future) is anything like what Warm Springs residents are unleashing upon Fremont. Sometime in the next several weeks I’ll rehash the EIR and my observations about the process.