Step up for area renters

The roughly $30-million project involves two-story structures

– After 15 years without a major new apartment complex, a
170-unit project is expected to bring much needed rental housing to
the city while breaking free of designs from decades’ past.
Gilroy – After 15 years without a major new apartment complex, a 170-unit project is expected to bring much needed rental housing to the city while breaking free of designs from decades’ past.

Workers have demolished the former Nob Hill grocery store at 7900 Westwood Drive and this week began installing utilities at the six-acre site that will become the Vineyard Apartments, a luxury complex constructed on a human scale.

The roughly $30-million project involves two-story structures with mostly one- and two-bedroom apartments. The exterior of the 14 separate buildings feature turrets, balconies or porches, and a variety of open space connected by pathways. Together, they resemble a village of homes connected by shared yards and open space.

“When you get a project of 150 units or greater, you start to have enough size of site that you create your own ecosystem or environment,” said John Baer, senior vice president with developer Matteson Real Estate Equities, in Redwood City. “It does in fact become a little village unto itself. You start to have pools, recreation rooms, gathering places, so that when someone is living there they become part of a community.”

The gated community will include a central pool and spa and numerous recreational spaces for children and adults. The “luxury” units will come equipped with walk-in closets, washer and dryer, dishwasher, microwave, and other amenities. One bedroom units will rent for $1,000 to $1,200, while two bedrooms will range from $1,500 to $1,700, according to Baer.

The Cypress Pointe Apartments, constructed off Kern Avenue about 15 years ago, were the last large-scale apartment complex to come to Gilroy, according to City Planning Manager Bill Faus. That project is about half the size of the Vineyard Apartments.

The new project represents a departure from the box-style “pragmatic” design in the sixties and seventies, Faus said. He characterized the Vineyard complex as a much more contemporary product where the developers spent much more time “developing the interplay between landscaping and open space areas, active versus passive uses” such as gardens and picnic areas.

“It is certainly an apartment complex that is more refined than what we typically have seen in Gilroy,” Faus said. “It’s a product that the developer has really put in a great deal more energy and architectural thought into in terms of building materials, colors, placement of buildings. It’s not just a row of buildings.”

Faus said the building represents a new phase in functional, community-oriented development that Gilroy is just now seeing take hold. A project that will bring 201 new housing units to Gilroy’s downtown by 2008 takes such ideas even further, Faus said. That project, slated for the old Cannery site off Lewis Street, blends artists lofts, townhouse, and apartments with 40,000 square feet of street-level retail space.

“They are not only blending in the residential units but bringing in the commercial units, bringing in the jobs,” Faus said.

While the Vineyard project is strictly residential, it is situated within a few minutes walking distance of First Street shopping and transportation.

It is the first project Matteson Equities has undertaken in Gilroy. The company will start renting units beginning in April 2006.

In addition to Gilroy, Matteson is working on similar developments Milpitas, Livermore, El Cerrito and in Nevada.

“We chose Gilroy because we do a lot of development in core markets in the Peninsula and Bay Area,” Baer said. “A lot of the growth in the next decade is emerging markets and Gilroy is one of those.”

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