Riverview San Jose

I’m watching the Riverview / Brandon Park development go up on 1st Street @ River Oaks in San Jose, California. This month’s trail count showed over 1100 people accessing the Guadalupe River Trail at River Oaks over a six hour period, so I’m sure I’m not the only person wondering about this project.

Brandon Park San Jose

Riverview is the name of the development under construction where Wyse had their facility on North 1st near the VTA headquarters. The current developer, citing the shortage of residential and commercial space in north San Jose, obtained city council approval in 2008 and began building 1600 residential units in high density multi-story buildings last year. Most of the 2700 residential parking spaces will be in ground level parking garages. As required by city code, the parking garages will also provide secure parking space for over 400 bicycles.

The private street network within this 33 acre development will have 60 feet of right-of-way, of which 24 feet will be for sidewalks, 16 for parking, and 18 for traffic. The apartment buildings will have eight foot setbacks from the sidewalk. Because these will be short and narrow “village” streets for internal circulation, I’m not too concerned about bicycle vs motor vehicle conflicts within this Riverview development.

Transit Oriented

These 1600+ residential units are literally across the street from a VTA light rail station with headways ranging from two minutes to seven minutes, though the headways drop to 15 minutes for those traveling to Sunnyvale or Mountain View. 40,000 jobs, mostly in the high tech industry, are within two miles of this development, which is easily within biking distance. San Jose International Airport, the 49ers Stadium, and downtown San Jose are all easily accessible via grade separated bikeways. The Rivermark shopping plaza with a grocery store, coffee shops and restaurants is easier and faster to get to by bike than by car from this location.

It should be an interesting experiment to see how many people actually take advantage of the transit, biking and walking opportunities. The Census tract in the city of Santa Clara on the other side of the Guadalupe River shows transit, biking and walking mode shares that aren’t that much different from the rest of Santa Clara. It’s a wonderfully walkable neighborhood with almost every New Urban design trick in the book, but this affluent neighborhood still reserves plenty of surface space for car storage (even if they hide them behind a back alley). Car use rates are higher here than other parts of the city of Santa Clara and Santa Clara County.

Street parking on bike routes

45,000 square feet of commercial space fronting River Oaks Parkway includes surface parking for 170 cars, 12 motorcycles and 12 bicycles are hidden in a central car park behind the buildings. An additional 400 spaces of on-street parking on River Oaks Parkway and on southbound 1st Street north of River Oaks are planned.

This first cross section shows the street parking proposed for River Oaks Parkway, looking west from 1st Street towards the Guadalupe River. The parking lot to the left is the existing VTA headquarters parking.

San Jose Riverview street parking cross sections

River Oaks Parkway west of 1st Street is currently a poorly maintained dead end street that provides bicycle and pedestrian access from the River Oaks light rail station to the Guadalupe River Trail. The residential and commercial development will add significant traffic to what is currently a low traffic dead street. This is a very busy access way for cyclists, and the potential for conflict is high.

This second cross section shows street parking on the southbound side of North 1st Street just north of River Oaks Parkway. The project will add a wide sidewalk and wide buffer between the walkway and the street. It will also add street parking space along 1st Street next to the existing bike lane.


The bike lanes here at North 1st see significant bike traffic alongside this busy North 1st corridor with its 40 MPH speed limit. Imagine just riding along in the bike lane here when somebody in 40 MPH traffic decides to parallel park on the other side of the bike lane.

I believe the permitting and public input process is long past and we may have lost the opportunity to influence the road design here, but I’ll bug some people with the city and see what can happen.

The developer will also build a five acre public park between the residential towers and the Guadalupe River, with direct access between the residential development and the popular Guadalupe River Trail.

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