San Jose Mercury News,

November 3, 2002

By Alan Hess


“Santana Row's blend of housing, shopping, restaurants, entertainment, a hotel and parking reflects the multi-dimensional activity of a traditional city”


“Artistic touches evoke the tony feel of Europe or Beverly Hills ' Rodeo Drive ”


It was more than worth the wait. It should set the pattern for all future developments from Coyote Valley to Moffett Field and beyond. The new multi-use project on Stevens Creek Boulevard is a tour de force in imaginative design, planning and execution. The audacious concept blends housing, shopping, restaurants, entertainment, a hotel and parking into a fully formed public space in the heart of suburbia. It is a place where different people will come for different reasons throughout the day, creating the multi-dimensional activity – as opposed to just shopping – that we enjoy in a traditional city.

Will it succeed in these bumpy financial times? That remains to be seen. But its superb exploitation of views and its revelry in outdoor living have already succeeded in capturing the flavor of Santa Clara Valley .


A stroll from the top of Santana Row at the new Crate & Barrel store reveals something new in the urban life of Santa Clara Valley and, indeed, the nation. The first block is a fairly narrow auto street with a slender median of trees, and lined with four-and five-story residential loft buildings. Shops line the ground floor's colonnades. A wide pedestrian walkway cuts through one building to the parking garage behind it.


Urban Intimacies

The buildings have a largeness and regularity, though the 140-foot facades are divided into sections, as if they were a collection of individual buildings. It's a visual trick, but it makes for a street that understands the value of visual interest and human scale. Lower balconies create the urban intimacy of New Orleans ' French Quarter. The street widens and changes in the next block. Two monumental buildings frame the street: on the left, a Spanish-style palazzo with townhomes above and stores below, and the 213 – Hotel Valencia (opening early 2003) on the right. Handsome towers anchor the corners. The buildings speak confidently to each other across the boulevard, creating a center of gravity. On the upper levels, terraces and loggias offer splendid perches to look down on activity of Santana Row and out to the purple-tinged mountains at sunset.


The next block is the heart of Santana Row: a perfectly proportioned square, planted with Oaks, populated with small food kiosks and wide enough to allow lanes of traffic on either side. The surrounding urban walls give diners and strollers something interesting to look up at. Low stone walls around the plaza create seating and allow diners to feel at ease with the nearby cars. The easy co-existence of cars and pedestrian at Santana Row is a mark of its suburban roots. Still missing is a final retail building to complete the fourth side at the head of Santana Row. But the sense of proportion is so well tuned, so vivid, that we can easily imagine the missing pieces.


Equally imaginative is the artwork found throughout in fountains, decorative walls, rough-hewn planters and ceilings. There is a mix of objects from Europe and original confections. The developer has turned its back on the bland aesthetic of most shopping malls and reached for a genuinely fresh, even funky art of mottled textures and antique patinas.


Is Santana Row European? Not really. It's more reminiscent of parts of Greenwich Village , where small 19th century parks and squares are cozily hemmed in by the cliff-like walls of early 20th-century apartment houses. But Santana Row is significantly more that an imitation. Its historical sources are altered so thoroughly, so creatively, so commodiously to this suburban commercial strip site that it represents a true evolutionary leap in urban design.


Those responsible for the project are developer Federal Realty Investment trust, master planner Street Works, architects Backen Arrigoni and Ross, Sandy & Babcock International and landscape architects SWA and April Phillips. The master plan is a wonder of subtle proportions and detailed scale. In a manner both pragmatic and sensitive, the planners weave together a remarkable variety of spaces, from the ample boulevard to the small side streets and squares. Parking is designed just as imaginatively as the public spaces. Parking structures, underground or a block off Santana Row, are connected to the main street and activities with walks lined with stores and restaurants; the act of walking from car to store or home becomes an urban occasion, not a hike through a concrete cave.


Evolutionary Milestone

Santana Row is the next step in suburbia's long evolution. More a downtown than a village, it is denser than most New Urbanist proposals. It is far more innovative that the muddled expansions of neighboring Valley Fair, or the watered down New Urbanist pretensions of Santa Clara 's Rivermark. Santana Row is enlightened commercialism – commerce that realizes it does its best when it is part of the daily life of shopping, relaxing and doing business. We really had no right to expect Santana Row would turn out this well. The vision was so far-reaching, the commercial program so unconventional, the design so complex, the execution so painstaking, that most developers are not willing to make that effort or take that risk.


What's next? There's more of Santana Row to come. Several secondary blocks to the east and northwest are unbuilt, with plans for more housing, A Cineplex is planned. These spaces promise even more richness, variety and delight.



San Jose Mercury News, May 29, 2002

By Laura Kurtzman


Michelle Vautour's new home is rising from the rubble of the old Town & Country Village mall in San Jose . It is an 18-foot-high loft above the main promenade at Santana Row, a glittering new shopping district with Gucci, Escada and . . . Chili's. She will be living in a parallel universe to nearby Stevens Creek Boulevard , a grim hodgepodge of malls, car dealers and offices with some of the heaviest traffic in Silicon Valley .


Santana Row, opening in September, is the most ambitious attempt yet in the United States at grasping an urban design Holy Grail: successfully mixing stores with housing, as cities once did naturally, before the automobile. The development's five-acre parking garage is wrapped in boutiques. Above the garage, 250 townhouses and flats surround a rooftop piazza. Vautour, a 23-year-old home loan consultant, hopes that moving to Santana Row will keep her entertained. ''I'm a young, single woman, and I shop a lot,'' she said.


Silicon Valley planners have much bigger hopes: that more such ventures will transform the deteriorating strip malls endemic to aging suburbs into thriving new neighborhoods. But the experience of sophisticated Santana Row, conceived with the highest ambitions at the height of the Silicon Valley boom, suggests just how difficult success will be to achieve.


The developer, Federal Realty Investment Trust, has already decided that its $500 million investment on the first phase alone is too steep. Silicon Valley 's economic downturn has made filling storefronts a struggle and reduced apartment rents. Santana Row, Federal's second effort at a housing and retail combination, will be its last. Federal spared neither time nor expense trying to make Santana Row special. The design, based in part on famous shopping districts in Milan and Barcelona , was put together by five different architects in an effort to avoid the numbing sameness of big developments. Yet Santana Row remains in many respects a prisoner of its location on a heavily traveled commercial strip. It sits across Stevens Creek Boulevard from Silicon Valley 's largest regional mall, Westfield Shoppingtown Valley Fair, and near the intersection of interstates 880 and 280. The very thing that makes the location so prime for shopping -- traffic -- is an obstacle for housing planners desperate to build on these strips.


But with 42 acres, Santana Row can create its own world, and it is -- most of it pointed away from busy Stevens Creek and Winchester boulevards, where neighbors include Burger King and the giant domed Century Theatres 21, 22 and 23. Steve Guttman, Federal's CEO, acknowledges that the edges of his project won't have the intimate feel of its interior. ''That's never going to read as part of the urban experience,'' he said. Yet the land along busy commercial strips is what cities throughout the valley are relying on to fill their state-mandated housing quotas, along with aging industrial land. Santa Clara planners expect more than half the new housing units built by 2010 will be on old shopping centers and strips along El Camino Real.


In San Jose , nearly a dozen housing developments on dying retail property could yield 5,000 housing units. Cities don't just want housing. They want new stores to generate more in sales tax, a lucrative source of municipal revenue. Campbell , for example, has dreams of transforming a gritty section of Winchester Boulevard -- a jumble of aging strip centers and auto body shops -- into a shopping and residential district. ''There's pressure on cities to build housing, and yet there are services associated with that,'' said Sharon Fierro, Campbell 's planning director. ''We think that by combining those two, we can come up with a good compromise.''


But the strategy is fraught with difficulty. Most developers specialize in housing, retail or commercial, and don't know how to do mixed-use projects. Banks are leery of lending money for pioneering ventures. And often, the locations no longer attract enough customers to keep new stores in business. ''Just because you want to decorate your streets with storefronts doesn't mean you can fill them,'' said Randol Mackley, a principal with Retail Real Estate Group in Santa Clara . ''If you don't have the car counts and you don't have the demand, it's going to look like Miss America 's missing a tooth.''


When retail is no longer viable, developers usually fall back on housing, a safer bet because of the regional shortage. But because of the traffic, developers have had to resort to freeway sound walls to protect single-family homes. One area developer, John Vidovich, plunked apartments on top of three otherwise conventional strip malls in Santa Clara and Sunnyvale . Shallow balconies overlook busy parking lots in a parody, to critics, of the quaint apartments-over-retail motif. Vidovich said his hybrid project has been a moneymaker. ''One of the reasons we did so well is we designed it as a car-friendly shopping center that would normally be built on the El Camino.'' But advocates of urban design cringe at the results. ''Why did the city let this happen?'' asked Shelley Poticha, executive director of the Congress for the New Urbanism in San Francisco . ''If, under the guise of mixed use, this is what gets built, there will be a giant backlash.''


There are ideas for taming these busy streets. Allan Jacobs, a former San Francisco planning director, is trying to revive the old tree-lined boulevard, designed as much for beauty as for mobility. These streets allow fast traffic to pass along central lanes, while slower, local traffic keeps to side access roads. Tree-planted medians between the central and side lanes shelter pedestrians and residents from traffic. But boulevards are controversial. Merchants complain the trees hide their signs. And boulevards have a reputation for being unsafe. Jacobs, who designed a boulevard to replace San Francisco 's quake-damaged Central Freeway, has studied wide streets in Fremont and says they're ripe for conversion. ''Some of these streets you could do wonders with.'' But for now, developers are stuck with the streets as they are, which is why Santana Row was built perpendicular to Stevens Creek Boulevard , rather than along it. Santana Row's ethic couldn't be further from the one that created the commercial strip. Where the strip offers convenience, Santana Row is offering atmosphere. The idea is to create a place so enticing that people want to stay there all day, shopping all the while. The ambience is a key part of Federal's business plan, because the more merchandise stores sell, the more rent they can afford to pay.


But Federal's original concept of an elite shopping district fell victim to the dot-com bust. Valley Fair also stole away tenants such as Tiffany with its recent expansion. As a result, Federal has had to offer incentives to lease the 540,000 square feet of stores under construction. And Santana Row's still-evolving tenant list is an eclectic mix of Chico 's and Burberry, Pasta Pomodoro and St. John Knits. Planned residential rents are astronomical, although time will tell whether the valley's depressed rental market will bear them. Rents for the 500 units under construction start at $1,800 for the smallest loft and climb to $15,000 for the most luxurious ''executive villa,'' according to Guttman, the CEO. Another 700 units have been planned. Federal is banking that empty nesters and young professionals will want to live there. And a few already have said they do, even though Federal can't guarantee what rents will be. ''I'll pay more than my budget will allow,'' said Steven Schofield, a 39-year-old architect in Santa Clara , who has put money down on a loft that he expects will rent for $2,300 to $2,700 a month. ''I love the idea of living and shopping and all these things going on in one place, which you really don't have anywhere.'' But, he said, ''What worries me is the traffic.''


Once a redeveloper of shopping malls, Maryland-based Federal began ''main street'' developments, as the movement against suburban sprawl gained momentum. In its first project, in Bethesda , Md. , Federal built shops. The second, in Arlington , Va. , added housing. Santana Row tries to create a neighborhood. But the undertaking has proved too much for Federal, which is only breaking even on Santana Row. The company has decided to go back to rehabilitating shopping centers. Greg Andrews, a real estate analyst with Green Street Advisors, estimates that when Santana Row opens, it will be worth less than what Federal spent building it. ''The returns here aren't awful,'' he said. ''But they're still disappointing.'' Federal can be criticized for making Santana Row unnecessarily complicated -- although it has impressed some in the design world. ''If they really build it the way they're drawing it, it's outstanding,'' said Michael Freedman, the urban designer who remade Castro Street in Mountain View . The main attraction is the street, a 1,500-foot promenade dubbed Santana Row Boulevard . Cars may drive in, but drivers will find only a few ''teaser'' parking spaces in front of the stores. Most shoppers will park in a garage, to preserve the street for walking. The street is lined on either side with shops. The first two buildings off Stevens Creek Boulevard have arcades that will be overflowing with cafe tables. A boutique hotel occupies the middle. At the end, the street widens to accommodate a long, thin park running down the middle, with chess areas, fire pits, a fountain, a flower shop, a beer garden and a small amphitheater.


Federal spent lavishly on the details, importing antique Tunisian iron grille work for accents. A chapel facade from the south of France will grace the flower shop. Although the buildings are gigantic, covering as many as five acres, facades make them look like smaller buildings built close together. Each has its own architectural style, replete with varying rooflines, window shapes, building materials and color. ''We don't want it to be defined as a mall without walls or a 'project,' '' said Anthony Flanagan, who is overseeing Santana Row. ''We hope it won't feel so planned.'' Yet Santana Row has some of the conveniences of suburbia. '' Santana Heights ,'' the townhouses built on the parking garage, offer a whole new take on the garden apartment. The garden in this case is a bocce ball court and trees on top of a parking garage. Residents will drive up a gated, open-air ramp covered with decorative stones. ''It has the amenities of a street, not a parking ramp,'' said Richard Heapes, a principal with Street-Works in Alexandria , Va. , who did Santana Row's overall design. ''You can have your own stand-alone house with its own garage, its own front door, its own privacy and be right in the middle of the city.''



San Jose Mercury News,

November 8, 2002

By Patrick May


It's all about ''place.'' Santana Row, the $450 million ''ideal urban neighborhood'' that opened Thursday in San Jose beneath a sky as gray as wet cement, is billed as ''The place to be'' and ''A place like no other.''


Which it is. Because while every attempt was made to make it look like another place, an ideal European village complete with patisseries and artistes in black berets, Santana Row is, of course, California's latest incarnation of the mixed-use shopping mall, right on Stevens Creek Boulevard. And Santana Row already has a history, its grand opening delayed from September to Thursday -- just in time for the first rain of the season -- by the biggest fire in San Jose in decades, which razed a large section of the complex and damaged nearby apartment buildings Aug. 19. ''They've been touting it for so long, I just wanted to see if it held up to the hype,'' said Sergio Recco, a 22-year-old student from Los Gatos who dropped by before noon to walk with others along Santana Row's red-orange streetscape, a sort of fender-bender between Siena and Montmartre, with bits of Disney and Vegas and South Beach. The fire, he said, ''just made me want to see it even more.'' His verdict? ''I think the fire added something to the aura of the place. It's got a real presence to it.'' The opening came off without a major hitch, according to a spokesman for Santana Row, Charles Zukow. No major traffic snarls were reported. ''We were pleased with all the foot traffic,'' he said. ''We don't have any real sales figures yet, but despite the rain, merchants were pleased.'' Ask any of the several hundred people on hand Thursday about that aura and three words are at the tips of their tongues: European. Rodeo Drive.


'Fantastic vision'

The European touches, like the outdoor-cafe chessboards a la Jardin du Luxembourg, are reasonable facsimiles. And the complex, with its ground-floor shops topped off with loft apartments and luxury townhomes, does resemble Beverly Hills ' storied shopping mecca. It has a real Burberry, and there is nothing fake about the Gucci or its white-gloved clerks buffing glass display cabinets. ''I thought Santana Row was a fantastic vision, and I wanted to be part of such a revolutionary place,'' said Taryn Rose, whose shoe store joins her ventures in Beverly Hills and New York City . ''The women of Silicon Valley are interested in my reality fashion, or fashion you can function in. There is a lot of money here, and people travel from San Jose all over the world to see beautiful clothing. I thought it was time to bring the world of beautiful fashion here to them.''


But wait. Isn't this a shopping mall, after all? Aren't these storefronts and balconied villas draped with a movie-set veneer? Doesn't this instant neighborhood, with its transplanted palm trees and art deco street signs and panini and salade Nicoise, seem, well . . . fake? Anthony Flanagan would stop you right there. ''It's not fake,'' said the vice president and chief development officer for Santana Row's builder, Federal Realty Investment Trust. He's a friendly guy, but don't use that word around him. ''Authenticity is very, very important to us. We didn't want to build a theme park. This is not Rodeo Drive . This is not Disneyland . This is a very real and authentic place.'' Santana Row has an inviting and open feeling. The sidewalks are wide, perfect for ambling along. Down the two completed blocks, as well as on assorted streets shooting off to both sides, ground-floor shops are interspersed with restaurants. ''It reminds me of some old neighborhoods in Tehran ,'' said Iranian-born Fred Katoozi, who was looking for a retail space to open a small restaurant. ''It's a great place for walking and just passing time.''


'Our main street '

Flanagan said Santana Row was partly inspired by his own neighborhood, 24th Street in San Francisco 's Noe Valley . There, he said, he has strolled and shopped and taken his children for ice cream for years, until the place was part of him and he was part of it. It grows on you. That's what place is all about, Flanagan said, looking out on his little rain-swept wonderland. ''This is the heart of our neighborhood, our main street.'' Flanagan's vision is contagious. Visitors Thursday walked wide-eyed and stood in street-corner awe, imagining themselves far, far away from San Jose , yet also feeling at home. ''This is not a place you come to with a list of things to buy,'' Flanagan said. ''This is about experiencing place, about dining in nice neighborhood restaurants, about playing chess outside with friends.''


Even though the opening day came before Santana Row was finished, with only 34 of the 115 shops functioning and just three of its 18 restaurants open, folks seemed ready to suspend disbelief. This was, after all, Saint-Tropez in San Jose , Tuscanized street theater in the midst of high-tech sterility and dog-eared strip malls. ''I grew up here and worked at Nordstrom and Macy's, and I'm thrilled to have this place finally open,'' said Judy Goldeen of Santa Clara , tethered by a leash to Bijou, the bichon frise whose tail she dyed purple for the big day. ''This place has a great feel. I loathe the malls where I've worked all my life.'' ''The place to be'' was the place to be on Thursday, at least for Linh Dang, who works nearby and came to experience Santana Row up close. ''It's so . . . so . . .''

''European?'' said a friend. Yes, Dang said. ''European.''



San Jose Mercury News,

November 3, 2002

By Donna Kato


Silicon Valley 's most discriminating shoppers finally have a street to call their own. When it opens Thursday, Santana Row's main pedestrian thoroughfare, called Santana Row, will be the closest thing that San Jose has to a Rodeo Drive .


While it's impossible to instantly re-create the venerable high-fashion street in Beverly Hills , the shops that will line the broad pedestrian walk are among the crown jewels of internationally coveted designer brands.


Without an anchor store that typically defines a mall, Santana Row builder Federal Realty Investment Trust is counting on the power of glamour names such as Gucci, Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo and Escada to stake Santana Row's position in the Bay Area's already distinguished list of shopping districts. ''We wanted to create a place like no other in Silicon Valley ,'' said Tom Miles, Santana Row's general manager. He credits Nathan Fishkin, senior vice president for leasing, Federal Realty and the man in charge of retail leasing, as the specialist who lined up the dozen or so high-end marquee names that will be neighbors on Santana Row's label lane. '' San Jose is one of America 's most influential and affluent areas,'' said Caryn Lerner, president and chief marketing officer for German fashion house Escada. ''As we looked to grow our business in the United States we wanted to be in an exciting area and one where our competitors go. Santana Row fits that criteria. And it's gorgeous.'' Escada, which will carry its seasonal collections as well as footwear and accessories at the Santana Row store, will open Thursday along the flashy promenade with Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, St. John Knits and Tod's. ''We're very selective and we thought Santana Row was a location where we can really evolve,'' said Hedy Woodrow, senior vice president of retail stores for St. John , a label known for its tailored fine knits. Other pricey boutiques scheduled to open this week on the street include Taryn Rose shoes and children's apparel shops Jacadi, Oilily and Nanoo.


''What you've got is no different than Rodeo Drive ,'' said William Gibbons of the Robb Report, a luxury-goods magazine that caters to millionaires who should be accustomed to shopping on such streets. ''The grouping together of the luxury stores is a formula that people expect and don't want changed. The concentration of upscale shops might be a sign that San Jose has arrived.'' Claudio Castiglioni, chief executive of Tod's, said he was attracted by Santana Row's European concept of shopping, eating and strolling. ''I was fascinated with the project because it's rare in America ,'' said Castiglioni, whose company specializes in expensive leather goods and shoes favored by celebrities. ''I liked the idea of open spaces and the option of being able to have coffee, sip wine and enjoy the day.'' Taryn Rose, a Vietnamese-American designer who makes comfortable but stylish shoes for Hollywood A-listers, liked the Silicon Valley demographics, said spokeswoman Kerri Sengstaken. ''There are many affluent, educated, working women who live there,'' she said, noting that the highest volume of sales for the Southern Californian company comes from the Bay Area where the expensive shoes have been sold in high-end shoe stores, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.


Also part of the Silicon Valley equation for the luxury retailers: a large concentration of Asians and Asian-Americans who are typically among the best customers of designer goods. The Japanese, for instance, buy more than 40 percent of the world's luxury items, according to digital power house, a marketing firm that helps companies reach their target customers. An obsession with quality, aesthetics and brand loyalty seems to define many Asian customers and that should bode well for certain Santana Row shops, said C. Britt Beemer, founder and senior retail analyst at America 's Research Group. So far, the luxury-goods market is hanging on while retail sales at chain and specialty stores have plummeted, according to economists and retail experts. Even with an uncertain economy ahead, Gibbons of the Robb Report said the company's reader surveys indicate high-end shoppers don't plan to change their spending habits. At least not yet. ''Once you're used to cashmere, I guess you're not going to go back to Shetland,'' he said.



San Jose Mercury News,

January 12, 2003

By Jack Fisher


San Jose isn't exactly Soho when it comes to art galleries. So how does an opulent 5,000-square-foot gallery space that would be the envy of any gallery owner in New York or Paris come to open in the new Santana Row housing and shopping center?


The answer involves a friendship between Santana Row developer Steve Guttman and a pair of free-spirited forces of nature who go by the names of Flipo and Lilou, a French artist and his haute couture model wife, who hope to bring a bit of the contemporary European art scene to the South Bay .


The Stop Art Gallery (more later on the name), as the space is known, shows contemporary European art -- some of it the work of friends or associates of Emmanuel Flipo and Lilou -- and Flipo's own work. They also plan to show contemporary California art and sponsor music, poetry readings and, Guttman hopes, fashion shows. They opened in November.


Whether the beautifully designed gallery will succeed is anyone's guess. The couple operates more by serendipity and through the kindness of strangers than with a conventional business plan. For now, the landlords are taking a percentage of any sales in lieu of rent. But judging from the couple's apparent knack for collecting volunteers and supporters, getting there might prove more than half the fun. ''He said, 'Look, I'm building a city in California and I want you to come,' '' Flipo, 44, said of Guttman. ''But this is not really just about the art. It's a culture point.''


For Guttman, that's the point exactly. If you're going to build a little city out of whole cloth, as Guttman (recently retired chairman of Santana Row's developer, Federal Realty Investment Trust) is attempting in Santana Row, it helps to give it a spark of creative life to see if it takes root, rather like culturing something in a petri dish on a grand scale. ''We thought they would give a sense of energy to Santana Row,'' said Guttman. ''And they are already doing that. If you see the traffic there on a Saturday -- it's extraordinary. They probably get more traffic than the San Jose Museum of Art. ''My wife, Kathy, and I consider them among our closest friends,'' he added. ''The more time you spend with them, the more exciting things happen.''


Guttman, who collects art, and Flipo met five years ago when the developer wandered into Flipo's studio in Pezenas near the Riviera in the South of France while vacationing there. Guttman says he was immediately taken not just with Flipo's art, but also with his infectious, high-energy enthusiasm for whatever came his way. Later, it would help, too, that Lilou, 25, a sometime fashion model for Givenchy, had worked in some of Paris ' more prominent art galleries and knew the workings of that business.


The Guttman's and Flipo and Lilou stayed in touch, the developer visiting when the French pair began wintering in New York City, and giving, by Flipo's account, some legendary parties sprinkled with prominent New York artists. In the summer of 2001, when Flipo and Lilou decided to marry -- the groom in green face paint, pointy rhinestone glasses and some mighty odd bubble pants, and the bride in similar specs and wearing body paint under a diaphanous gown and 20-foot train -- Guttman flew to France for the two-day bacchanal.


So when Guttman offered them the gallery, the couple, ever up for new adventures, readily agreed, and last March the artist came to San Jose and picked the space. It wasn't the largest of the three Guttman showed him, but it was a choice spot, near the Stevens Creek entrance to the complex.


Flipo, who attended the Academie des Beaux Arts in Toulouse and the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs in Nice, designed the interior. Hoping to capture some of the feel of a Soho gallery, he gave it clear varnished cement floors and vast expanses of high white walls. To break up the huge space, he introduced slabs of smaller walls that create niches to isolate the work of individual artists, creating in effect a series of smaller shows within the larger gallery.


The couple has begun with 13 contemporary artists in addition to Flipo, most of them from France but also a few from elsewhere on the Continent. The best known among them is Andre Pierre Arnal, 63, who gained prominence in France in the early 1970s as part of a group of painters who were known as Supports-Surfaces, work that is something of a bridge between postwar abstract expressionist painting and minimalism. Arnal's works involve folding canvases into grids and painting them individually.


Another of the more established artists, at least in France , is Damien Cabanes, 43, a sculptor whose works in bold colors and unconventional materials such as Styrofoam and papier-mache give them an unexpected, floaty, visual lightness and otherworldly quality. Eleonore de la Taste, who died of bone cancer at 26 and recently had a posthumous show in Paris , is represented with several elegantly spare ethereal washes that reflect her debt to the American painter Mark Rothko. Dutch photographer Toto Frima is exhibiting nude Poloroid diptychs of herself that seem more explorations of identity than exhibitionism.


Among the others are some that seem, as much as anything, to somehow have been caught up in the continuing adventures of Flipo and Lilou, like Big Jimmy, a.k.a. Jim-Jim, a self-taught 63-year-old artist the couple encountered in New York City, and an artist named David Hardy, a.k.a. ''the Swiss-Moroccan,'' who draws on umbrellas and seems like a Dada-inflected, Continental version of Berkeley's counter-cultural mascot, Wavy Gravy.


Flipo's own work runs the gamut from collages fabricated from found wood and commercial imagery to topographical studies on paper where he uses chance methods, a bit like John Cage, to erode the paper. This work can have the feel of landscapes viewed from a great height and, in fact, some of it has been inspired by the artist's trans-Atlantic flights. He also has created performance-style installations such as a 1996 work in New York where he drew on vast expanses of snow in an empty lot by throwing pure pigment on it, then photographed it from above.


Whether the gallery will work in the long run, of course, remains to be seen. Lilou said it usually takes at least six months to establish a gallery and that sales to date have, after half that time, been ''not bad.'' The music began Friday with a Peninsula band. A second gallery show, a joint one with Flipo and Shane Edelman, a Los Altos artist working in Los Angeles , will open in February. Much else is still in the planning stages.


If planning is what you would call it. The origin of its counter-intuitive name, Stop Art, says a lot about the couple's unconventional, unbusiness-like working methods. While walking through the botanical gardens in San Francisco , Flipo and Lilou spied a rusted metal sign in the underbrush. A cast-off traffic sign from the California State Automobile Association, circa 1945, it read ''Stop Arterial,'' with cutouts in the metal spelling out the words. As they prepared to hoist it into the trunk of their car, Flipo blocked some of the letters and noticed the shadow it cast: ''Stop Art.'' Voila! Providence . Sold. Volunteers to help staff and run the gallery have been acquired in similarly serendipitous ways. Friday's band, for example, came from a volunteer staffer.


Nor it is yet clear how the imported variety of la vie des artistes will mesh with its West Coast counterpart. Flipo and Lilou's habit of life as performance art can seem different than that of a lot of contemporary California artists who, to generalize, can be a bit more solitary creatures. And they'll have to build some bridges with downtown's nascent art scene, which may prove mistrustful of having any of its hard-fought energy diverted to Santana Row. Guttman matter-of-factly said he recently donated a work by New York-based artist Jane Hammond to the San Jose Museum of Art in hopes of doing just that. And while Flipo, Vidal and Guttman may be friends, Guttman is also a businessman. Asked how long the gallery will remain, he answered, ''We'll see how well they do. How well they do will determine how long they will be there. Ideally, they'll do well and we'll make money and everyone will be happy. ''If not, we'll replace them at some point. We're going to play it by ear. Right now they're making an impact.'' Asked how long he planned to be there, Flipo said, ''Three months. No, 10 years. We're crazy, you know.''



November 1, 2002

San Jose Mercury New,
By S.L. Wykes


Wisely, Santana Row's planners have chosen to pave their own path to shopping bliss. The row -- a gigantic retail/housing complex opening Thursday across the street from Westfield Shoppingtown Valley Fair -- is not just another cluster of the same old standards.


A few of the more than 40 fashion-related stores that will make their debut between Thursday and March are familiar, including Ann Taylor, BCBG Max Azria and Chico 's. They're being joined by another set from the highest end of retailing, with an emphasis on the Italians -- J.P. Tod's, Gucci, Bottega Veneta. Also on board are Escada and St. John , two great names in knitwear. The French, naturally, are well-represented: Vilebrequin, Jacadi, Anne Fontaine.


For those who can't resist shoes, Santana Row will make life much more difficult. Taryn Rose, Salvatore Ferragamo, Cole Haan and Donald J. Pliner will all be there, adding to the footwear that will be available at many of the above stores.


But perhaps the best thing about the Santana set are the stores of local designers with national reputations: Babette, Japanese Weekend Maternity and Leona Guidace's De Cre are all opening their second retail locations, at the row. The Mulholland Brothers, a San Francisco-based leather goods company, will be opening its first retail store.


The staggered opening of the row's full complement of shopping opportunities will be a blessing in disguise -- it gives you an excuse to go back, even if it's only to window shop.








November 6, 2002

San Jose Mercury News



The success of cities is not in mimicking the sameness and sprawl of the suburbs, but in returning to the concepts of urban neighborhoods that historically have made communities thrive.


Great American cities were not built around single family homes on large lots requiring a tangle of streets that create traffic congestion. Rather, they were built around buildings fronted directly on the street, with businesses on the ground floor and living spaces on upper floors. People linger in such places. They stroll, celebrate and create.


That old concept is being used to revive sections of Denver and Pittsburg , Portland and Seattle , Cleveland and Milwaukee . Now it's San Jose 's turn, but at a different level. San Jose 's Santana Row, opening this week, is not a revival but a creation based on many of the principles that history has shown make great places.


The 42-acre Santana Row retail and living neighborhood on Stevens Creek Boulevard faces the obstacles of a down economy, and potentially nightmarish traffic in an area that is already jammed. And don't kid yourself, Santana Row is no traditional city center where store clerks walk upstairs to settle in with their families after a busy day. This is high-end retail and even higher-end housing, out of the reach of even many professionals, let alone the people working behind the counters.


None of that should take away from what Santana Row brings to San Jose . In a housing-poor region, its 1,200 apartments and condos will be welcome. So will the sales tax revenue that will help support city services throughout San Jose .


Particularly welcome is the innovative design produced by developer Federal Realty. It combines old-world charm and quality with contemporary stores, restaurants, housing and hotel spaces, hiding the necessary but ugly parking areas. Developments using these principles are more common in Florida , Maryland and a number of other states, but Santana Row takes the design to a new level.


There have been concerns that Santana Row would thwart the city's efforts to revive its downtown, just three miles away. Would it siphon shoppers and stores away from the city center?


Fortunately, City Hall's latest vision for downtown, blending public attractions, offices and government buildings with a variety of housing options and pedestrian links, offers promise of its own. It no longer relies on mega-magnet stores, but on creating a living, working, shopping, entertainment hub that will be richer for the real history that exists there, in contrast with Santana Row's newness.


In a city of more than 900,000 people, there's room for both. And there's room for more new neighborhoods with the look and feel of Santana Row.





November 3, 2002

San Jose Mercury News

By Donna Kato and Steve Johnson


Billed as the most ambitious project of its kind in the United States , the $450 million, 42-acre retail and residential village-within-a-city officially opens Thursday.


The mammoth development, conceived at the height of the valley's most recent tech boom as San Jose's answer to suburban sprawl and lack of identity, has been called sophisticated, visionary and well-executed by national retail and commercial real estate experts who applaud its ''Main Street'' concept and unique design.


Critics, though, argue that the project has hindered redevelopment efforts downtown. Some retailers have said they once considered setting up shop downtown but changed their minds and signed with Santana Row, enticed by attractive lease terms.


There is also concern about how the development will increase traffic in the already congested area along Stevens Creek and Winchester boulevards. Even with the improvements made by the developers, city engineers estimate that traffic will grow 19 percent on Winchester and 16 percent on Stevens Creek .


The skeptics wonder, too, if the current economic climate will support new retailers and expensive housing. Friday, Morgan Stanley analysts released a report that, while generally positive about Federal Realty, outlined some of the risks for Santana Row, including Federal's ability to lease the remaining 15 percent of its retail space and the oversupply of rental units in Silicon Valley . The report also said Santana Row managers may be ''overly optimistic'' about the shopping center's prospects.


Yet civic boosters believe in Santana Row. Beyond the economic lift it will give San Jose , the project's daring scope and the national hype created by its completion will complement San Jose 's geek-chic image with a dose of urban culture that mirrors the city's worldly population.


''All eyes will be on San Jose because we are one of the first in the nation to test the viability of mixed-use housing and retail,'' said Mayor Ron Gonzales as he toured Santana Row's still-buzzing construction zone last week. ''Only time will tell how we are viewed nationally, but already, Santana Row complements and adds to our image as a city.''


Daniel Fenton, chief executive of the San Jose Convention and Visitors Bureau, said his agency plans to work with the shopping center to bus in scores of out-of-town shoppers. He's convinced that, given the right retailing environment, visitors will spend more in San Jose . ''The national average of what a visitor spends in a city is $80; in San Jose , it's $40,'' he said. ''That means there's $17 million in out-of-town revenue just waiting to be spent.''


Santana Row's creator, Maryland-based Federal Realty Investment Trust, hopes much of that money will find its way to Santana Row's immaculate, movie-set streets. ''This mixed use of housing and retail is as aggressive a blend as it's going to get anywhere,'' said general manager Tom Miles, a veteran retail executive who came from Tampa, Fla., earlier this year to oversee the last stages of the building process. ''There are similar projects but none have the national and international feel that this place has.''


Indeed, the complex -- homes, shops and eateries neatly packed into one vaguely Mediterranean-style neighborhood -- has garnered much attention outside the area. ''The combination of real estate and shopping seems to be something that has perked up everyone's ears,'' said William Gibbons of the Robb Report, a luxury lifestyle magazine. ''It's not unlike a sports team: If it does well, the city, the owners and the investors will keep feeding it money and others will want to duplicate its success. If it bombs, the fans will turn away.''


The upscale project was conceived during the Internet bubble era when Silicon Valley 's demand for housing and the rising incomes of its residents both seemed limitless. Santana Row was crafted to appeal to those who yearned for genteel, European sensibilities. People who lived in the townhouses and villas would shop and eat steps from their residences.


Just as construction started in the summer of 2000, the tech downturn began. Still, even as the slump deepened, Silicon Valley residents continued to spend. In 2000, according to Claritas/Market Statistics, the San Jose metropolitan area ranked second in the United States in median household effective buying income at $61,122 a household, ranking just behind Bridgeport-Stamford , Conn.


That robust consumer spending was reason enough for the developers to continue with their original plan and look for the type of merchants that would give Santana Row's retail space world-class billing.


Federal Realty's leasing agents signed international luxury labels, including Burberry, Gucci and Tod's, unique specialty boutiques such as Carta and, Cou Paris and big-name restaurants such as Yankee Pier and Amber India. The center also includes such chain retailers as Crate & Barrel, Starbucks and Borders Books. By early summer 2002, about 80 percent of the available space was spoken for.


''We wanted to create a new concept in the Bay Area that would give shoppers an entirely different experience,'' said Anthony Flanagan, Santana Row's chief development officer. That experience, which should have been unveiled in September, was temporarily halted when a fire destroyed nearly half of the complex's 500 housing units and badly damaged one-fifth of the available retail space. Federal Realty recently told investment analysts it expected to file an insurance claim for $70 million to $90 million to cover damage, lost revenue and other unspecified costs from the fire, which gutted the project's biggest structure, Building 7. All 28 commercial tenants who had an opening delayed by the fire plan to be in place by spring, Miles said.


Donald Wood, Federal's president and chief operating officer, said last month that the firm intends to rebuild the 235 upper-floor apartments that were destroyed in Building 7, possibly by late 2004 or 2005. But about 250 flats and townhomes were untouched by the fire; the first tenants began moving in Friday. At final build-out, the plan calls for about 1,200 luxury residences.


Peter Mazonas, chief operating officer for McRoskey's Airflex Mattress Company, which had a space in the burned building, said he's still waiting to hear how much of his damages will be covered by insurance but remains committed to opening, probably in March. ''It's a unique mixed-use project and the fact that they chose San Jose to do this, I think, is a real plus. . . . Three years from now that will be a very important asset to the city,'' he said. Thirty-five of the 85 tenants who have signed leases are scheduled to open Thursday, in time for the all-important holiday season. The remaining tenants are slated to open between mid-November and spring 2003.


Retail tenants and managers of a competing shopping center, Westfield Shoppingtown Valley Fair, directly across Stevens Creek Boulevard from Santana Row, say they will benefit when Santana Row brings more shoppers to the Stevens Creek/Winchester area. Regardless of what happens across the road, Valley Fair is already one of the most successful shopping centers in the country. Industry analysts estimate that Valley Fair did $560 million in gross sales last year, or $710 per square foot, excluding anchor stores. That's more than twice the U.S. mall average of $341 in sales per square foot. ''Santana Row adds value to the destination of Winchester and Stevens Creek ,'' said Brian Neel, director of Tiffany & Co. in Valley Fair.


During the planning process, downtown interests consistently argued that Santana Row's success would harm efforts to attract more businesses to the city's center. Today, most real estate developers, redevelopment officials and others with a stake in downtown San Jose believe Santana Row will reflect favorably on the entire city. John Given, senior vice president for development for CIM Group, the Hollywood firm negotiating with city officials to build a range of housing and retail spaces downtown, doesn't see Santana Row as a threat to downtown.


''We are working on a very different project and San Jose needs both to make it richer and add to its economic base,'' he said. ''Downtown is a center of commerce for the city and a destination every day for a large number of office workers, visitor groups, students and neighbors. Santana Row is very different but its success or failure will reflect how San Jose is doing as a market.''


Chris Coggins, economic development officer with the city of San Jose , said the city estimates Santana Row will have $150 million in sales for the fiscal year that runs July 1, 2003 through June 30, 2004 . Santa Clara County 's sales tax rate of 8.25 percent means Santana Row will generate $12.4 million for various public entities, including $1.5 million for the city. ''We expect the sales tax (total) to increase over time,'' as Santana Row is fully developed, he said. Property values
effect depends on many factors Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone, while reluctant to predict how Santana Row might affect nearby property values, believes a number of factors will determine whether the development boosts commercial and residential property values in the surrounding areas.


''Santana Row replaces a tired, dated, old retail center that was declining with an upscale, high-end retail and multi-family complex,'' he said. ''I think that generally has to have a positive impact upon the neighborhood and the adjacent community.''


With the project's first phase valued at about $450 million, the county will receive an estimated $4.5 million annually in property taxes from Santana Row, at least 10 times the property tax generated by Town & Country Village . But, Stone added, the one wild card would be increased traffic near the center. Nearby commercial properties would probably benefit from more traffic, but residential values could drop.


Patrick Crema, owner of Crema Properties, which appraises residential real estate and whose office is on Winchester Boulevard a couple of blocks from Santana Row, said he fears that traffic from the development will lower nearby property values. ''I don't think they're going to rise necessarily,'' he said. ''It all depends on the amount of traffic that place is going to produce. . . . That could drive everybody out of the neighborhood.''


Ebrahim Sohrabi, senior civil engineer with the city of San Jose , said Santana Row, once fully developed, is expected to generate 6,880 cars a day on average on Winchester Boulevard between Highway 280 and Stevens Creek Boulevard , a 19 percent increase from current traffic of 36,000 cars a day.


On Stevens Creek Boulevard , between Interstate 880 and Winchester , Santana Row is expected to generate 8,640 cars a day. Since that section of Stevens Creek now gets 53,000 cars a day on average, that's an increase of about 16 percent. With improvements that Federal Realty was required to make, Sohrabi believes commuters shouldn't notice a difference, except during unusually busy holiday shopping periods. Among other changes, the firm widened an on-ramp to I-880 and doubled the number of left-turn lanes at several intersections, including Stevens Creek and Winchester .


For Federal and the project's 85 commercial tenants the $450 million question is this: Will shoppers and diners continue to fill Santana Row's tree-lined streets once the initial excitement wears off? ''I'm aware there's a lot of hype to it, a lot of people are talking about it . . . . I definitely would go check it out,'' said Jenny Ramirez, 18, of Mountain View . Khanh Nguyen, 28, of Sunnyvale doubts that it would significantly improve the city's image but likes the notion that Santana Row will bring more stores and restaurants to San Jose . ''It would make it better for the city,'' Nguyen said. ''It's good that it's here.''





San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, August 19, 2001 –



ICSC, Shopping Centers Today, August, 2001 -



ICSC, Shopping Centers Today, August, 2001 -



Washington Business Journal, December 13-19, 2002



F.W. Dodge California Construction Link, April, 2002



F.W. Dodge California Construction Link, January, 2001



ICSC, Shopping Center Business, October, 2001