Developer drops proposal for 6-story hotel on Winchester Boulevard


A controversial project for a six-story hotel on Winchester Boulevard in San Jose will not go ahead after strong opposition from nearby residents.

On Tuesday, council members unanimously approved the rezoning of a 0.69-acre parcel at 1212 S. Winchester Blvd. from residential to commercial development, but rejected a plan to build a 119-room hotel on the land.

The proposal is consistent with the city’s vision for urban villages, but the project is not appropriate for the neighborhood, Deputy Mayor Chappie Jones said.

“This project revealed a gap in our (general plan),” said Jones, who represents the area where the neighborhood is located. “It’s a situation where even though you have the right to do something, (it) doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.”

The hotel, which would have replaced two commercial buildings that were once one-story houses, has faced backlash from neighboring residents. The owner, San Jose dentist Dr. Adam Askari, told the board at the meeting that he was ready to go back to the drawing board.

“What we decided was to drop it at that time,” Askari said. “We’ll regroup and talk to the neighbors again.”

Askari said his team met with neighborhood residents at least eight times to address their concerns. But neighbors at the proposed hotel said Askari’s solutions, such as planting trees, did not solve the problems. They fear that a six-story hotel will tower over those living in the one-story residential area and invade their privacy.

“We’re not against development, growth, or investment,” said Vince Navarra, president of the Hamann Park Neighborhood Association. “But we think these blocks are too small, and it’s going to impact our neighborhood in many negative ways that haven’t even been revealed at this point.”

Navarra said the hotel will increase traffic that the neighborhood cannot handle. He added that the hotel would impact the daily lives of residents commuting to work, the safety of children walking to school 800 meters away, and pedestrians and cyclists along from Winchester Blvd.

Winchester Boulevard is a major traffic artery that runs through San Jose and connects several towns from Santa Clara to Los Gatos. Many of its intersections, such as Hamilton Avenue and Stevens Creek Boulevard, become congested during rush hour. These intersections also limit the location of the proposed hotel.

“The plans show there is no room for fire lanes, for adequate parking, or for the Ubers and Lyfts that pick up visitors at the hotel, (or) for the bike lanes that we were promised,” Navarra said, adding that is not the case. benefits residents and violates elements of the San Jose Urban Village Plan.

Yet the developer’s plans were recommended by the City’s Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement.

“Staff’s recommendation to approve the project is based on consistency with the general plan and the Winchester Urban Village plan for this area,” said Cheryl Wessling, spokeswoman for the Department of Planning, Building and of Code Enforcement, at San Jose Spotlight. “Hotels play a key role in the economic dynamism of cities and meet the objective of accommodating travelers.”

Several developers spoke out against the city council’s decision at the meeting, saying it set a precedent that could deter developments in San Jose.

“If a project like this, which fully complies with all the regulations of this specific plan, is refused, I suspect that most other investors will not be willing to take the risk of investing in this district or in any what part of San Jose,” said Behrouz Soroudi, a developer with multiple properties in San Jose.

Mayor Sam Liccardo said he only supported the decision to drop the hotel proposal because the developer was on board with the idea.

“We owe the developers in this city nothing but one thing: clarity,” he said. “We spent a lot of time on the city village plans and all these rules. So once the rules are set, it seems to me that if they play by the rules, they could move on.”

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