Bay West pivots from offices to housing at Fry’s former HQ in San Jose

Redevelopment plans now call for up to 1,200 homes instead of 1.9M sf of offices

Bay West Pivots From Offices to Housing at Fry’s Former HQ

Bay West Development’s Byron Wolf and 550 East Brokaw Road in San Jose (Getty, Bay West Development, Google Maps)

Forget offices. Bay West Development now wants to redevelop a former Fry’s Electronics headquarters in North San Jose into as many as 1,200 homes.

The Campbell-based developer, approved to build 1.9 million square feet of offices at 550 East Brokaw Road, has filed preliminary paperwork to switch the project and build between 519 and 1,233 homes, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reported.

The move comes as office vacancies reached 18.9 percent this summer across Silicon Valley, according to CBRE, during a growing demand for housing.

Fry’s, a San Jose-based chain of electronics big-box stores known for their thematic architecture and interior decor, opened in 1996 and closed in early 2021. The North San Jose site was home to its corporate headquarters and a superstore modeled on a Mayan temple.

Bay West had planned to replace it with a 3.8 million-square-foot development, which would include seven eight-story buildings wrapped by curtains of glass, with white and copper accents.

The project would also include 1.65 million square feet of parking in two nine- and 10-story garages for nearly 5,400 cars and more than 400 bicycles.

Bay West won approval to build the spec project in February, including 1.9 million square feet of offices in four towers. Last month, Super Micro Computer leased a 124,000-square-foot warehouse at the 20-acre site.

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A pivot from offices to homes may employ “builder’s remedy,” a provision of state law that streamlines approvals for housing projects in cities such as San Jose that have failed to certify their state-mandated housing plans, according to the Business Journal.

The remedy requires projects to include 20 percent of their homes for affordable housing.

Bay West isn’t the only developer in the region to tear up their office plans for homes.

Last week, the owners of the San Jose Flea Market, who had won approval to rezone the 61.5-acre site for a mixed-use project to include up to 3.4 million square feet of offices, submitted new plans to focus on homes instead, according to the Business Journal

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Last month, Urban Catalyst managing partner Erik Hayden said his firm was considering to develop a second apartment building instead of offices at its two-tower Icon/Echo project in Downtown San Jose.

In August, BXP, formerly known as Boston Properties, said it planned to halt work on its 1 million-square-foot Platform 16 office project north of San Jose’s SAP Center, without a switch to residential.

— Dana Bartholomew