Moment at San Pedro Squared, San Jose, Calif.
San Pedro Street is one of downtown San Jose’s liveliest streets, offering a variety of dining options, events and a weekly farmers market. However, a 3-story parking structure created an uninviting dead zone on one side of San Pedro Street. The San Jose Downtown Association (SJDA) sought to activate the entire street by repurposing the ground floor of the parking garage into four, 400-square-foot micro-retail spaces for local business owners and replacing five street-parking spaces with a parklet.
The project required a strong collaboration between the Department of Transportation, Gensler and Eaton Hall Architecture, plus SJDA Street Life Manager Jason Su and the retail-space operators San Jose Made. The Knight Foundation provided key funding.
The city of San Jose’s Department of Transportation allowed this concept to be implemented in its parking garage, showing a commitment to activating the east side of San Pedro Street and giving entrepreneurs an opportunity to test concepts in the marketplace.
Gensler worked with SJDA to design a solution that would foster a flow of civic engagement, starting with the pedestrian experience and leading to a new kind of retail experience. Chris Hall of Eaton Hall Architecture built upon Gensler’s vision, supplying the final drawings that brought the design to fruition. His commitment to the project was invaluable as the team navigated the complexities of installing these shops in the public garage.
The design utilizes the existing architecture of the garage, adding retractable wood doors, large colorful graphics, a vibrant mural created by a local artist and customizable panels for signage, all of which draw people inside. The outside responds to playful humanistic connections to the street with lush potted plants and vibrant outdoor furniture within the parklet. MOMENT has become a destination place for the entire community.
The retail spaces, run by San Jose Made, feature woman-owned businesses for varying durations. After a year of being open, there have been eight local businesses in the spaces and 12 jobs have been created.
The extraordinary micro-shopping district awakens the eastern side of San Pedro Street; integrates with the rest of San Pedro Square; appeals to the community at large, especially San Pedro customers; and made believers out of those who said it couldn’t be done.
The success of the retail spaces has led several brokers, developers and other interested parties to contact the city of San Jose to consult on including smaller footprints in their projects in the hopes of landing MOMENT-style tenants.