Repurposing & renewing landfill as housing will help reconnect Santa Clara, California

Santa Clara–in between San Jose and San Francisco–is home to a state-of-the-art stadium, some of the most innovative minds in the country, and one of the first universities established in California.

Now, it’s about to host exactly the kind of redevelopment that was forecast as a growth trend in the 2002 book, The Restoration Economy (Berrett-Koehler): a 1680-unit transit-oriented housing development on a former landfill called Related Santa Clara.

The new residents will be living on top of an estimated 5.5 million tons of municipal waste dumped over a quarter century in the heart of Santa Clara. Originally located outside of the heart of the city, sprawl quickly encompassed it, making it an unsuitable neighbor, and an inefficient use of what had suddenly become expensive real estate.

Repurposing and renewing the landfill as a residential neighborhood will also help reconnect the city, since the landfill is currently something one drives around, not through. Thus, it’s a great example of the 3Re Strategy that is increasingly revitalizing places worldwide.

The Related Companies has been planning this $6.7 billion mixed-use complex across the street from Levi’s Stadium for years. Now, it looks like the green light is at hand. The project represents the largest housing project ever proposed atop a landfill in the Bay Are, and perhaps in all of California.

Related says that the new downtown city center will boast multiple districts – each with its own unique personality and lifestyle affiliation – incorporated into one coherent community through multiple pedestrian and bike-friendly paths and beautiful, unifying landscaping. New office campuses that border the city center will feature an exclusive mix of office space, convenience retail and food and beverage offerings.

The 239-acre mixed-use development will be separated into five parcels, each of which will be developed in phases. The largest parcel will house the City Center and the majority of the residential, entertainment, retail, and restaurant space.

According to the Silicon Valley Index, while rapid job growth has been experienced by a number of sectors in the region, middle-wage and middle-skill jobs have barely recovered from the recession and represent a shrinking number of total employment in the region. Related Santa Clara will create an estimated 25,000 jobs – many of which will be in the restaurant, retail, and hotel industries – for residents who work outside the tech field.

On-site water recycling. Radiant cooling and heating systems. On-site bio-fuel generation. The project has been exploring a number of ways to incorporate the sustainability and environmental consciousness that defines the Bay Area. The plan is currently undergoing Environmental Review to determine any impacts on the community from the project. Please check back soon for additional details.

From scratch, Related Santa Clara is producing a bike and pedestrian network that will integrate seamlessly with already-existing networks throughout the area. This new urban center is located in a transit-rich location directly adjacent to the world-class 49ers stadium. Related is working with the city of Santa Clara and with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority to ensure easy access for pedestrians who travel to the city center using public transportation.

Related is in the process of finalizing a number of lease agreements with the City of Santa Clara, and the project is undergoing Environmental Review. To remain updated on the progress of the project, please sign up to receive e-mail updates from the project team.

It’s anticipated that construction of the first phase will commence in 2017 and be completed by 2020. Future phases consisting of office space, with a mix of retail, as well as food and beverage offerings, will be developed over a period of 10-15 years and subject to market demand.

Environmental overseers have accepted Related’s massive technical document, which includes elaborate safety systems to block the escape of combustible methane gas and other dangerous vapors, and to prevent groundwater contamination.

Set on 240 acres atop what was once the Santa Clara All Purpose Landfill — a golf course and BMX track now occupy the site — the project also would include 5.7 million square feet of offices, 1.1 million square feet of retail space and 700 hotel rooms.

The planning document for the development, which calls for a foot-thick concrete barrier covering more than 30 central acres of landfill where the housing would be built, spells out “multiple layers and multiple means of protecting” residents, shoppers and workers “from any kind of problem”.

All images courtesy of the Related Companies.

See article by Robert Scheinin in The Mercury News.

See the Related Santa Clara website.

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