Friday, August 10, 2007

"San Jose, tear down this wall!"

The San Jose McEnery Convention Center (Photo: Natasha Lloyd)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Tales of the Blue Monkey

I was sad to see that the great Blue Monkey on San Fernando recently shut its doors . As reported by Metro's The Fly:

Owner Jorge Sanchez, who also owns Chacho's in downtown San Jose, blames the city's bureaucratic hall of mirrors, which he was forced to enter when the police flagged him for noncompliance for an assembly permit (not to be confused with an occupancy permit, which was in order. How anyone can have occupants who are not assembling remains a mystery). With no grace period in which to comply, Sanchez's occupancy was reduced from 149 to 49 people. Thus hamstrung, he then embarked on a four-month epic paperwork journey full of hand drawings, fire inspectors, engineers, more hand drawings, building inspectors, planners, parking assessments, an address change, fees, more fees and time. Lots of time. Hemorrhaging money while on the cusp of renegotiating his lease, Sanchez made some last desperate calls to the city. "It wasn't a priority for a lot of people I was making comments to," says Sanchez, "so I just decided to close."

Now comes word that the city is leaning on Angels Ultra Lounge in the SoFA for underage drinking. Obviously, underage drinking shouldn't be tolerated, but it seems like any police citation, big or small, means a bureaucratic quagmire for downtown businesses. I don't think I've ever seen a city so actively try to kill its successful entertainment establishments. Meanwhile, San Jose Convention & Visitors Bureau's website proudly proclaims "The fun never stops." What a joke.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Living End

I'm anxious to see what the innovative folks at SOM Architects have in mind for Living Tomorrow's new San Jose location on San Fernando (btw, check out their elegant proposal for San Francisco's new Transbay Terminal). According to the July Downtown Management Report from the RDA, "The developer is currently working with SOM Architects to redesign the building to allow for hotel, residential, and Living Tomorrow uses. The hotel portion of the design is said to be for a new eco-friendly "1" Hotel and Residences from Starwood, the folks that brought us the "W" hotel chain. Downtown could sorely use a new hotel, so this is a welcomed addition. Plus, its an exciting concept to pair with Living Tomorrow.

I have high hopes for the design of this new building. If Living Tomorrow's Amsterdam and Vilvoorde locations are any indication
SOM's vision could radically challenge downtown San Jose's less than impressive architectural face. Living Tomorrow, combined with CIM's Tower 88, could make San Fernando an exciting downtown locale. Hopefully, Living Tomorrow renders will be out by the end of the year.

Living Tomorrow Amsterdam (Photo: UNStudio)

Living Tomorrow Vilvoorde (Photo: Maisons Privees)