The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority is again seeking a judge’s permission to use eminent domain to acquire property for its Silicon Valley BART extension.
The transit agency’s latest lawsuit, filed with the Santa Clara County Superior Court on Dec. 17, is about the site of a small two-story building in the heart of downtown San Jose, The Mercury News reported. It wants to acquire the property at 29 and 31 E. Santa Clara Street to develop and build a BART station that would encompass that parcel and several others at and around First and Santa Clara streets in San Jose’s core, according to the authority.
The parcel is one of seven that the transportation authority is seeking to seize for future BART stations in downtown and east San Jose. Government agencies routinely turn to condemnation proceedings when they can’t reach voluntary sales agreements with property owners. In the authority’s case, it uses eminent domain for about half its land acquisitions, Ron Golem, its director of real estate and development, told the Silicon Valley Business Journal in November.
The agency made an initial offer on the East Santa Clara Street property in December 2020, it said in a staff memo last June. It didn’t disclose how much it proposed to pay, although California state law requires that it make a “fair offer” for the property that takes into account its “highest and best use,” according to the Business Journal. The Santa Clara County assessor’s office valued the two-story, approximately 6,500-square-foot building and the land underlying it at more than $1.3 million as of last June.
A San Jose-based limited liability company named Z Hanna LLC owns the East Santa Clara Street property, which contains four apartments and room for a shop or restaurant on its ground floor, according to LoopNet.
The transportation authority isn’t the only group looking to redevelop the site as part of a larger project. Roygbiv Real Estate Development aims to raze it and a parcel next door at 17 E. Santa Clara Street and build a 26-story building with 192 homes. Almost a quarter of those units would be restricted for low-income residents. The project also includes 5,400 square feet set aside for the VTA’s planned downtown San Jose BART station, 5,200 square feet of commercial space, and no proposed parking. It’s unclear how the transit agency’s acquisition of 29-31 E. Santa Clara St. would impact Roygbiv’s plans, which are now under city review.
[The Mercury News] — Matthew Niksa