San Jose pays $24M for site approved for homes to enable high-speed rail

“Critical location” for bullet train trades at 58% premium compared to sales since 2021

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan; Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority's Carolyn Gonot; 32 and 60 Stockton Avenue (Aedis Architects, Getty, Matt Mahan, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority)
San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan; Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority's Carolyn Gonot; 32 and 60 Stockton Avenue (Aedis Architects, Getty, Matt Mahan, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority)

San Jose and a Silicon Valley transit agency will pay a steep price for the site of an approved apartment tower that could have blocked a high-speed rail line into Diridon Station.

The city bought two parcels that make up the 1.12-acre property at 32 and 60 Stockton Avenue for $23.8 million — or 58 percent more than they traded for last year and in 2021, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reported. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority will assume the purchase and sale agreement from the city.

The seller was the Thang Do and Chunhong Liu Revocable Trust, the estate of the late architect Thang Do.

The deal puts an end to plans by Do and San Jose-based Urban Catalyst to build what they dubbed Apollo — a 20-story, 471-unit apartment tower with 7,600 square feet of shops and restaurants that would replace an auto body shop and car wash at a cost of $100 million.

Do bought the two parcels on the other side of the Caltrain tracks from SAP Center in August 2021 and April of last year for a combined $15.1 million.

“This is a really critical location at the northern throat of the rail infrastructure and without this, we are unable to realize the established concept for the redeveloped station,” Jessica Zenk, deputy director of the city’s Transportation Department, told the San Jose City Council.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority designated the Apollo site among the right-of-way parcels it needs for the first phase of the state’s “bullet train” project. 

The phase would link Silicon Valley with the Central Valley, running through Santa Clara, San Jose’s Diridon Station — a five-minute walk from the Apollo site — Gilroy, Merced and Fresno.

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The authority seeks to put a 61-space parking lot for Amtrak and Capitol Corridor rail service riders on the site, which would also be used to widen the railroad tracks.

It’s unclear why the city or VTA didn’t step in to purchase the properties sooner at a lower cost. Instead Do bought them, and the city approved his and Urban Catalysts plans in November. 

Diridon Station, where Amtrak, BART, Caltrain, high-speed rail and other forms of transit are slated to meet, is set to become the West Coast’s Grand Central

The city’s Diridon Station Area Plan calls for the construction of 12,900 homes, 13.7 million square feet of offices and 1 million square feet of shops and restaurants. 

That includes Google’s Downtown West — now on hold — which would house up to 25,000 Google workers in 4,000 homes, 7.3 million square feet of offices, 500,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, a community center and 15 acres of parks located 15 miles east of Google’s headquarters. 

— Dana Bartholomew

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