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Gilroy
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October 15, 2021

Gilroy Transit Center housing proposal shelved for now

City, VTA to work on increasing transit services; officials ID alternative housing sites

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority will take a step back from its housing proposal in downtown Gilroy to work with city officials in increasing transit services for local commuters.

Gilroy officials, meanwhile, will work with housing agencies to identify possible sites for future development.

Mayor Marie Blankley said both the city and VTA agreed that the proposed housing development at the Gilroy Transit Center was “premature” during a Sept. 17 meeting between her, City Administrator Jimmy Forbis and VTA General Manager Carolyn Gonot.

The Gilroy Transit Center, located on Monterey Street near Seventh Street, has been under scrutiny over the past year since the VTA began gathering input on a proposal to build housing on roughly half of the nearly eight-acre property.

The property, owned by the VTA, is currently a parking lot for VTA bus and Caltrain passengers, and serves various bus lines for VTA, San Benito County Express and Monterey-Salinas Transit. It is also home to the Gilroy Southern Pacific Railroad Depot building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Conceptual plans for the project outline a five-story structure with 110-150 units of housing for people with incomes considered low, very low and extremely low.

In August, the VTA Board of Directors voted for a two-month delay in its search for a developer that would construct the project, to give the VTA staff time to work out issues with Gilroy officials. The request for developers was scheduled to be considered at the board’s Oct. 7 meeting, but is expected to be pulled for now.

The housing development would take up roughly half of the current 471 parking spaces on the property. VTA officials have said the project would replace all the spots lost to the development, such as adding them underneath the structure. 

But Blankley said the transit center’s limited bus and train service currently is not an accurate indication of what the parking situation could be in the future. An additional train and more frequent bus service would increase demand at the center, she said.

Meanwhile, city staff will be meeting regularly with representatives from the county Office of Supportive Housing and Destination: Home to find other sites that could be conducive to a housing development, Blankley said.

According to Blankley, the city has suggested the county-owned lot at the corner of Eighth and Alexander streets, as well as the city-owned parking lot at Sixth and Railroad streets.

Such a project would be funded by Measure A, the affordable housing bond approved by county voters in 2016.

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