North San Jose’s Future is Looking Up

North San Jose’s Future is Looking Up

Vision North San Jose plan approved by the San Jose City Council in June 2005 provides the blueprint for a new land use policy along area transportation corridors that will see future growth go up, not out.

Driving up North First Street and into the surrounding industrial areas is like taking a trip back in time. Suddenly, it’s the 1970s. The semiconductor industry is skyrocketing. Dozens of related high technology businesses are being started each year. And these infant companies need millions of square feet of research and development and light manufacturing space here in Silicon Valley.

North First Street’s Golden Triangle — the area bounded by I-880 and Hwys 101 and 237 — is home to many of these companies. These are the buildings that surround you on your trip through time: one- and two-story dinosaurs from a different era, built for vastly different purposes than are required today.

You blink, and you’re back in the 21st century. Manufacturing has moved overseas. The imagination and brain power is still here, but the needs for office and commercial space to support these employees are radically different from what they were from the late 1960s into the 1980s — during the valley’s heyday.

City of San Jose officials have created a vision for the future that takes into account the changing business environment, transportation picture, and lifestyle trends impacting the valley today. Vision North San Jose represents meticulous research and a significant amount of discussion on the part of the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, Office of Economic Development, city planning department, council members, developers, industry executives, and residents. The plan is the first update in land use policy for the North San Jose area since 1988.

“This is a sea change in land use planning,” says Ralph Borelli, CEO of Borelli Investment Company. “The city has devised a framework for smart growth over the next 25 years. The area is going to be urbanized, with midrise and highrise office and residential buildings clustered along transportation corridors, replacing the aging industrial parks that are there now.”

High-Density, Industry-Centered, Urban Village

At the core of San Jose’s vision is a mosaic that brings together office, retail, and residential space into a high-density urban village. The plan incorporates:

  • 26.7 million square feet of new office and R&D space
  • 32,000 new high-density residential and single-family homes in close proximity to jobs
  • 1.7 million square feet of supporting retail space
  • $520 million in transportation improvements
  • Parks and open spaces, public safety services, educational facilities

All of these elements will be linked by existing and future mass transit—light rail, VTA service, and BART as it feeds into San Jose. The plan will also see the development of miles of bicycle trails and pedestrian facilities.

“It’s really a recognition of the maturation of our market,” Borelli explains. “When my father started Borelli Investment Company a half century ago, this was a valley of limitless land and endless dreams. Today, the dreams are still without end, but vacant land is in scarce supply. This is simply a reflection of our need to look up to grow.”

A Bright Future

The Vision North San Jose plan strengthens San Jose’s economy by retaining and attracting high technology companies, bringing them to an area designed specifically for the next generation of innovative Silicon Valley businesses. It anticipates the creation of up to 68,000 new jobs, and creates walkable, livable neighborhoods close to public transit for these workers.

Further, much thought has gone into protection of existing neighborhoods in the surrounding areas by limiting the amount of traffic traveling through these residential neighborhoods, and by preserving safety, pedestrian access, and bicycling on local streets.

The City of San Jose has promised to expedite development through a certified Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Design Guidelines. “Green” building architectural treatments are strongly encouraged.

“While it will turn the world we knew in North San Jose upside down, Vision North San Jose really offers an outstanding opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a key development effort,” concludes Borelli.

For more information, contact Borelli Investment Company at, or call (408) 453-4700. Or, you can contact the San Jose Redevelopment Agency at (408) 794-1170, the Office of Economic Development at (408) 277-3616, or the city’s Planning, Building and Code Enforcement at (408) 277-8571.