Sunnyvale could get a new 7-story residential building that would have only 29 units

With housing — particularly affordable housing — in short supply in Silicon Valley, a local developer is taking a new approach in Sunnyvale to meet some of that demand, particularly among younger workers.

Pacific General Construction has proposed building a seven-story residential building in east Sunnyvale off Lawrence Expressway. What’s unusual about the structure is that despite its size, it would only house 29 residences, because all of the units within it would have either three or four bedrooms. All told the complex would have 111 bedrooms spread across those 29 units.

Studio T-SQ Inc. designed the structure in that way, because it saw a need to offer larger residences for groups that were not necessarily family members, Howai Lai, a principal with the architecture firm, told the city’s planning commission at a hearing Monday. Those groups might include younger people who may need to live with roommates to afford to live in the area, said Lai, who spoke about the project on behalf of Milpitas-based Pacific General.

Commissioners generally praised the proposal. For Commissioner Mike Serrone, it made him rethink the traditional approach of meeting housing demand by building numerous smaller, individual residences, he said.

“This is very innovative, and I wish we saw more proposals that were affordable by design,” Serrone said. “It’s really tailored to the world we live in now.”

The residential building would be located at 1202 Kifer Road at the intersection of Kifer and Lawrence just north of the city’s Costco warehouse. It would replace an 8,200-square-foot office structure on a 0.6-acre property owned by Neoelixir Inc., according to data from Reonomy.

Pacific General plans to set aside four of the residences for affordable housing. Of the building’s 29 units, 24 would have four bedrooms. Initially, the developer intends to offer the residences for rent but may choose to sell them to tenants in the future, a project representative said at the hearing.

Parking is a concern

With a raft of residential and commercial projects in that area where Sunnyvale and Santa Clara meet, the residential building’s developers see it as offering a final piece to “completing the gateway” between the two cities, Lai said.

One concern commissioners raised about the project is Pacific General is only proposing to include with it 50 parking spaces, despite the structure having more than twice as many bedrooms. That’s a valid concern, especially because there’s no guarantee that future residents would be able to park in the lot at Costco next door, the unnamed project representative said at the hearing. There might be an opportunity to construct underground parking to address that concern, he said.

The commission’s hearing on the project was meant to give it guidance on the type of waivers the developers are seeking for it. As such, the commissioners didn’t take any action on the project Monday.

Development in that area of Sunnyvale is governed by the city’s Lawrence Station Area Plan, with which the city aimed to increasing housing near the Lawrence Caltrain station, located less than half a mile from the project site. Pacific General’s project is one of several under development, underway or recently completed in the Lawrence Station area.

Intuitive Surgical, Inc., for example, is constructing a 1.2 million-square-foot addition to its headquarters campus on Kifer Road, which is across Lawrence from the Costco. On Sonora Court, just south of Intuit’s campus, SKS Partners has proposed building two seven-story mixed-use structures that would collectively house 280 apartments, including 46 affordable residences, more than 220,000 square feet of office space and 380 square feet of retail space. And just east on Sonora Court from that project, MidPen Housing is planning to build — beginning in December — a seven-story affordable housing structure with 176 residences under a proposal the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved last year.

Additionally, across the street from Pacific General’s project are a pair of large residential developments, Prado and Nuevo, which were both completed in 2022.


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