Realtor Notes on Santana Row Lofts, Flats and Villas

Santana Row is a mixed-use development that brings the urban lifestyle many people expect from big cities, with shops, restaurants and bars within walking distance, into Silicon Valley.  There are 219 homes there, across three buildings: The Villa Cornet, The DeForest Building, and The Margo Building.  Homes range from pied-a-terre flats to open lofts and townhomes.

Strengths

1)  Santana Row has a distinct feel unlike the downtown areas of most Bay Area cities.  Urban settings in Silicon Valley are rare and command a premium.  Here the restaurants and shops aren't walking distance away; they're an integrated part of the community.

2)  Living on Santana Row is considered trendy and prestigious.  The community is diverse and there's no shortage of activities, from the farmers market and exotic car meet, to clam bakes, jazz concerts and clubbing.

3)  All buildings require a code or keycard for entry.  Each building has secured parking and the Villa Cornet has individually-enclosed garages underground.

4)  The project was completed in 2002.  The lofts and flats have modern industrial feel while the villas are designed to invoke Tuscan styling on the inside, with Mediterranean themes in its architecture.

5)  Trivially close to, but not overlooking, 880, 280 and 17.  It's right off Stevens Creek Blvd. and Winchester Blvd. and less than four miles from San Jose International Airport.

Weaknesses

1)  While the units (in any of the buildings) facing Santana Row's main road feel like they're in a city and are in higher demand, there are some units that are considered less-desirable.  In the case of the DeForest Building, some condos face the above-ground parking structure; in the case of the Margo Building, some may be located above a service entrance; or in the case of the Villa Cornet, several villas face the hills and San Jose but also overlook a parking lot.

2)  You pay for the atmosphere.  The per-square-foot price of homes here is higher than average.

3)  Some units in the Margo Building face the Straits Cafe, others in the DeForest Building are located directly above it.  On weekends, the party goes on until closing time the next morning.  Some units in the Villa Cornet overlook the V Bar at the Hotel Valencia.  From a real estate perspective, these locations are good.  If you're living there and you're not in the mood, there's no escaping the party on weekends in these locations.

4)  Santana Row isn't the place for school-aged children to live because there just aren't that many activities for them, though it's not uncommon to see babies in strollers, particularly on weekends.  My walking tour provides an overview.  The schools which Santana Row feeds into are not highly rated.

Opportunities

1)  Units with balconies, particularly corner ones, are rare and in relatively high demand.  You might believe this is tempered by the fact that some, like ones in the DeForest Building, face the parking lot.  The premiums relative to even those overlooking the main strip provide evidence.

2)  Some lofts have catwalks which provide more living space and a small seating area that looks outside.  Others have a partial catwalk that doesn't reach the main window.  The flats are basically the same configuration as the lofts, without the second-story loft.

3)  Owners have had to pay for individual parking spots in the past.  Many condos will now include them as part of the listing.

4)  People may find that a flat or loft here to be a good second home or weekend getaway that can be rented out occassionally.

Threats

1)  Empty parking lots near Santana Row towards 280 will be developed into condos, possibly in a high-rise building.

2)  Units that don't face the main strip traditionally take longer to sell, particularly when there are more desirable units available.  The primary exception is the set of lofts in the DeForest Building with the 300 square foot patios.

3)  There is a great temptation for sellers not to include location (i.e. the view, proximity to elevators and fire escapes, etc.) in the list price and to overestimate the value of more than one parking space.

4)  Lofts, condominiums and villas here don't have the same broad-based appeal as homes near a traditional downtown area.  That said, merchants in Downtown Saratoga, for example, are still reeling from the combination of Santana Row and Valley Fair nearby.  And Cupertino Square is just now getting back on its feet.

Schools and School District Information for Montebello Cupertino

There are two disclaimers.  The first is the standard one about it being a good idea to check with the local school district (Campbell Union Elementary School District, Campbell Union High School District) for the latest information on school boundaries.  The second is that people considering a condo, loft or villa on Santana Row are generally focused more on the atmosphere than kids or schools: the schools representing this area are not highly rated.

1)  Lynhaven School (see ratings and parent opinions).

2)  Monroe Middle School (see ratings and parent opinions).

3)  Del Mar High School (see ratings and parent opinions).

Map