Two Condominium Towers Planned for San Jose, Calif.

16-story and 23-story high-rises planned for downtown San Jose

Under the current plan, the project will be divided into two phases. In the first phase, CIM has to commence construction by the end of September on one of two high-rise residential towers, a new street bisecting the site called Central Place, a public parking garage with 190 spaces and 36,000 square feet of street-level retail. The project must be completed in 30 months, though CIM anticipates finishing sooner. The average expected selling price for each unit in CIM's first phase is $635,000.

Chavez said the new agreement allows the city to find another developer for the second phase if sales are slow for the first tower and CIM doesn't want to proceed.

"Every single residential developer has raised a concern about market absorption," Chavez said. "But as soon as the first high-rises get under way and start getting purchased, it will create a lot of excitement around the market."

The CIM project has one more regulatory hoop to jump through. The city has to hold a public hearing because the firm slightly redesigned the project to save money. For example: Steel costs rose 32 percent last year, so the firm redesigned the towers so they are lower and wider.

As high-rises sprout downtown, surface parking lots will disappear, to the chagrin of many San Jose residents who enjoy the convenience. But downtown residents are eager to see the towers go up. To them, the buildings are emblematic of downtown's transformation and its future.

"There is some talk about how it's going to be uncomfortable, construction-wise, but we're very excited about the development," said Elizabeth Mattson, president of the Downtown Residents Association. "With the Civic Center being completed, and this tower going in, I think we're really turning a corner."