Katherine Conrad writes:
As demolition of San Jose's former storage yard begins this month, the stakes are high for a development struggling to get the right mix of culture, commerce and condos in the heart of Japantown.
Since March, city officials, community leaders and developer Williams & Dame of Portland have been working on the project that has already stymied one developer.
"This project must make economic sense and still give people a sense of place," said Jerry Hiura, a Japanese-American and San Jose resident who has been closely involved with the project. "At the same time, we want to build something beautiful that has a relationship with the existing community."
That's a tall order for any development. Given the nation's declining housing market, the challenge becomes even more formidable for a residential project estimated to cost $350 million.
As one of only three historical Japantowns and the location of the former Chinatown known as Heinlenville, the 5-acre site that served as the city's maintenance facility for decades, also is undergoing an archaeological excavation.