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Real estate: Just-bought downtown San Jose apartments may offer new housing approach

Real estate: Just-bought downtown San Jose apartments may offer new housing approach

SAN JOSE — A busy development firm that has just bought a downtown San Jose apartment complex intends to use the property as a trailblazer to explore ways to provide homes for essential workers in the area.

A group headed by Urban Community executives Gary Dillabough and Jeff Arrillaga recently bought the Metro Gardens Apartments at 420 S. Third St. in downtown San Jose and they hope a revamp of the complex can create a new model to offer housing in the Bay Area’s largest city.

“To have a great city, you have to make sure you have the housing for the people who are the essential workforce, housing for people who protect San Jose,” said Dillabough, a partner with Urban Community.

Atrio420, the affiliate headed by Arrillaga and Dillabough, the Urban Community partners, paid $13 million to buy the Metro Gardens complex, county records filed on April 2 show.

The apartment house totals 40 units and is located in the South University neighborhood and is next to San Jose’s South First Area, or SoFA district.

The housing complex features a big central atrium, which is the reason Arrillaga and Dillabough have decided to name the site Atrio.

Urban Community and WRNS Studio, a design and architectural firm, will team up to redesign the outdoor space in Atrio to create a communal kitchen and event space.

“Atrio has a beautiful atrium that can be used to create a comfortable place where people can have a nice meal, cook a fun dinner, have a beer,” Dillabough said.

The new atrium can be used to engage with local restaurants, host cocktail nights, or showcase cooking lessons from local chefs.

“San Jose is evolving, and the big question is how do we transform the city,” said John Schlueter, WRNS Studio associate and designer. “We can establish strong partnerships and build a network for a new downtown model for living that will improve our neighborhoods.”

Art will also be a vital component of the atrium activities. The gathering area could be used to display exhibits by local artists.

“This is going to be a way to activate this neighborhood,” Dillabough said.

In a unique twist, Urban Community will offer ownership options to residents, community members, local businesses, and investment partners.

The new owners of Atrio want to offer residential units in the apartment complex for people who are crucial to the basic operation of the city such as teachers, public safety workers, chefs.

“This temporary, post-pandemic housing is meant to act as a vehicle to help essential workers get back on their feet by enabling them to live where they work,” Urban Community said in a prepared release.

The new owners of Atrio are asking people who want to become a resident, or who have ideas about how Atrio should evolve, to get in touch with them. Dillabough gave out his email address, [email protected], and invited people to get in touch.

Dillabough and Arrillaga said they want to be able to help provide as much housing in downtown San Jose and they see Atrio as a piece of that puzzle.

“This is essential living for essential workers,” Dillabough said.

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