A pair of South Bay lawmakers are eyeing a rundown government building in the heart of San Jose as a potential site for a highrise university housing development.
State Sen. Jim Beall and Assemblyman Ash Kalra, both Democrats, have asked the state to make the Alfred E. Alquist Building—a three-story concrete structure on Paseo de San Antonio named after a long-serving state legislator—available for San Jose State University to transform into campus housing.
“Redeveloping the Alquist building for a multi-use housing and campus facility would help address SJSU’s growing need for campus community housing and expand the campus facilities,” Kalra said in a news release. “The Alquist building has great potential to enhance the connection between San Jose State and the downtown esplanade.”
Beall said putting the site to new use would go a long way in revitalizing downtown.
“Downtown San Jose is in the midst of a renaissance and SJSU is part of that rebirth,” he said. “As SJSU continues to grow and thrive, the university needs adequate facilities to meet the demand. For instance, faculty, staff and students desperately need affordable housing options in Silicon Valley. The current building is no longer appropriate for state service providers and those offices could better serve constituents, especially those with special needs, in another location.”
SJSU President Mary Papazian applauded Beall and Kalra for requesting $250,000 from the state general fund to kickstart planning for the project.
“SJSU is eager and open to this opportunity as one possible solution to provide much-needed affordable housing for our campus community and revitalization of the Paseo area in downtown San Jose,” she wrote in a media statement Tuesday.
Currently, the departments of Public Health, Rehabilitation and Industrial Relations operate out of the 39-year-old building, which, according to the state’s Department of General Services, is plagued by vandalism and graffiti after business hours.
The property’s value lies mostly in its prime downtown location by the university and Hammer Theatre, SJSU officials noted. Plus, San Antonio is one of the main corridors between SJSU and the Valley Transportation Authority bus and light rail lines.
“There is strong local interest in the state vacating the building with the site then being repurposed,” the General Services Department wrote in an assessment of the property, which concluded that a development deal might be feasible.
If the university does indeed acquire the building, Papazian said it would honor the Alquist legacy with a memorial built into the structure that one day replaces it.