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Urban Farm, Affordable Housing Project Proposed In Santa Clara


Santa Clara may soon stand out for having one of the most unique housing developments in the Bay Area. The Core Cos recently submitted plans for Santa Clara Sustainable, a housing development with a 1.5-acre urban farm. The 359-unit project will incorporate both market-rate and 181 below-market-rate housing units. The below-market-rate housing is geared toward those with mixed incomes, including seniors, senior veterans and middle-income workers.

Core senior development manager Vince Cantore (above right, with Core VP of development Paul Ring) told us the city has had the site earmarked for senior housing for nearly a decade. During the RFP process in 2015, the idea of an urban farm was brought up from the local community.

"We recognize the agricultural space is a unique component to the site and the synergy between residential and agricultural space fosters intergenerational healthy living, an innovative concept prioritized by Core EVP Chris Neale," Vince said. "We’re looking to create a space where all ages and backgrounds live side by side and are able to share experiences and learn from one another in a really unique agricultural setting."

The urban farm concept will also offer healthy sustenance, and new outdoor recreational and educational resources for residents and the local community.


The urban farm pays homage to Santa Clara’s agricultural past, according to California Native Garden Foundation president Alrie Middlebrook. The farm is expected to start producing soon after residents move in. Preparation and cultivation will begin soon after the project’s approval.

The project also will provide much-needed senior housing. Within Core's portfolio, Vince told us, there around 634 seniors on the waitlist for a total of 380 units. The average wait time is about one to two years. The project will provide housing to seniors 62 or older, senior veterans and others struggling in Santa Clara.

"There is truly an urgent and dire need to provide this type of housing in the Bay Area," Vince said.


Much like any other development in the Bay Area, Vince said affordable housing projects face significant hurdles from the complexity of the CEQA review process, impact fees and permitting timelines. Very few exceptions, if any, are made for affordable housing projects.

Fortunately for Core, Santa Clara has been supportive of this project and has worked with it to address these hurdles and make this process efficient, Vince said.

Vince expects if all goes well with permitting, construction could begin Q1 2018.

The Santa Clara Sustainable project is designed by master plan architect Open Scope Studios in collaboration with LPMD Architects, which designed the senior housing building. HMH Landscape Architecture and the California Native Garden Foundation also have worked on the project design. SDG Architects designed the townhomes.