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New housing project breaks ground in Santa Clara combining urban living and a working farm

New housing project breaks ground in Santa Clara combining urban living and a working farm
Housing project breaks ground combining urban living and farming. Photo Credit: Steinberg Hart
By Wesley Severson - Published on July 26, 2021.

It’s something we’ve never seen before in the Bay Area, a residential development in the heart of a major city that sits next to a sizeable, working farm. That’s the idea behind a new development that has just broken ground in the city of Santa Clara near Westfield Valley Fair on North Winchester Boulevard.

The so-called ‘Agrihood’ would sit on just under six acres of land. It will feature 160 apartments and 36 townhomes along with 165 units earmarked for low-income seniors and veterans, according to San Jose Spotlight. Agrihood will also feature a unique and large-scale urban farm that will span 1.5 acres. It could produce around 20,000 pounds of food that would be shared with the people who live nearby.

"All of that food will be going to a farm stand that we’ll be sharing with the community weekly. And people will be able to pay what they can there,” said Lara Hermanson who represents Farmscape, the firm that will design the urban farm inside Agrihood. Hermanson told Bay City News, along with the farm stand, there will be a community room on the farm site along with a learning area that people of any age can get instruction and try their hand at growing food.

Developers hope the Agrihood design creates a stronger sense of community between younger people, middle-aged families, and seniors. “We’re going to be having, essentially, an intergenerational hangout on this farm,” Hermanson said. Cindy Chavez, Santa Clara County Supervisor told Bay City News, “residents will be surrounded by food gardens, and be within walking distance to grocery stores drugstores, and public transportation.”

According to San Jose Spotlight, the 165 low-income units represent about 10% of Santa Clara’s affordable housing target. “The economic fallout from the pandemic has created more affordable housing problems for seniors in one of most expensive areas in the entire nation. With baby boomers aging, we will continue building permanent supportive housing and Agrihood could very well be the gold standard,” said Chavez.

The city approved the Agrihood project last year. It will cost $250 million dollars to build and should be ready for move-in by mid-to-late 2023. It is getting help in the form of $23 million dollars from Measure A and almost $16 million from the city of Santa Clara. It will contain studio and one-bedroom units that will have an average monthly rent of around $2,100. It’s unclear how much it will cost for the units deemed low-income.