The Core Companies

The Core CompaniesThe Core Companies sparks interest in its residential developments by delivering on the expectations of the neighborhood. 

By Janice Hoppe-Spiers, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Publishing

The Core Companies is a vertically integrated real estate development and construction firm that immerses itself in the communities in which it builds with the goal of enhancing the overall environment. The company maintains that mission by creating vibrant new home communities in San Jose, Calif., that improve its residents’ quality of life.

Founded in 1989 by David Neale, The Core Companies has developed more than 400 single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums, as well as 2,960 apartment units in the South Bay region. Chris Neale joined the team in 1999 as Executive Vice President and oversees all development activities from inception through completion.  The Core Companies umbrella encompasses Core Residential, which specializes in market rate multifamily projects, Core Affordable that develops affordable housing and Core Builders, an in-house general contractor. 

Meeting the Need

The Core Companies began construction in September on its latest mixed-use development, Sparq. “Sparq is located in downtown San Jose’s SoFA District, which is the hub of art and entertainment,” Development Manager Chris Enders says. “Our first step was to reach out to the neighborhood members, which includes local artists, small business owners and homeowners, to see how Sparq could impact their lives and the ways in which we could help to enhance the surrounding community.”

San Jose is expected to be the hottest housing market in the country this year as the job market continues to surge and tech companies further expand. “We are predicting a major boom in downtown San Jose to continue over the next 10 years,” Enders says. “Everyone has started to come in, land continues to get snatched up and it’s a great time to help shape our surrounding community.” Core box

Because of the booming market, the SoFA District has communicated the need for more housing. The Core Companies is hoping to solve that need in part with Sparq while maintaining the essence of the neighborhood in its development, which includes artistic flair and incorporating the latest technology.   

Sparqing Development

Located on 0.57 acres at First and East Reed streets in San Jose, Sparq will be a 105-unit mixed-use complex. A rental car company and gas station previously occupied the property before that, which called for environmental remediation. “After conducting environmental testing, we determined there was minimal impact to the overall site,” Enders explains. “We have implemented the use of a vapor barrier system across the site to ensure all necessary remediation has taken place.”

The market rate apartment complex will consist of seven total stories with two levels of parking. Sparq will offer 98 parking stalls and that includes 28 parking stackers made by Klaus Multiparking, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of parking systems. “This is the first time we are working with Klaus Multiparking and we are excited about it,” Enders says. “It’s a technology we have yet to integrate into one of our projects and we are very excited about the opportunity to explore new solutions to existing conditions.”

Vice President of Development Paul Ring adds that the Klaus stack parkers is ideal for tighter infill sites like Sparq to increase the parking count. “The parking stackers allow us to meet the project objectives for retail and residential while creating a well-balanced community,” he adds. 

The top five stories of Sparq will consist of studio, one- and two-bedroom market rate units ranging from roughly 560 to 1,100 square feet. Sparq is being built to attract young artists and tech users, so the interiors will feature modern finishes such as a white subway tile backsplash, quartz countertops and modern cabinetry in the kitchen. 

Each unit is open concept floor plan with separate access to the bedrooms so it feels twice the size. To keep the modern feel, Sparq units will feature exposed ductwork throughout to show the bones of the structure. “We don’t want to hide or cover anything up because artists love the story behind the building or project,” Ring says.

The Core Companies is incorporating technology into its units by including Nest Thermostats in each unit and partnering with Latch, a smart access system developer, to manage every door in the multifamily building. “You can control access not only to your unit door, but also access the entire building,” Enders says. “Let’s say you have a package from Amazon being delivered, you can send the delivery person a code to give them access to the front door, elevator and to your unit so they can drop off the package. 

“The Latch door system takes a picture of the person and sends it to you so you know your unit is secured and the code goes away after it’s used so they no longer have access,” he continues. “It’s a unique system and a provides Core the opportunity to enhance the overall user experience through the use of the latest technology.” 

Sparq will also feature 3,000 square feet of ground floor retail, which The Core Companies is considering a yoga studio, coffee shop or a place that provides shared workspaces for start-ups, entrepreneurs or freelancers. “If you are just getting started how great would it be to live at Sparq and rent an office space downstairs for a couple hours, a day or two weeks to hold meetings and interact with likeminded individuals,” Enders says. “This concept has taken off and is something we are exploring.” 

In terms of amenities, Sparq will feature a mezzanine community room that will include a wet bar, reading space and TV and game area. A third-floor deck/lounge area will open to the outdoors and a clubhouse will feature common space, a full barbecue and pizza oven area, a fire pit area, canopies and CoreTen steel planters surrounding the area. 

Social Responsibility 

Sparq is expected to achieve LEED Silver certification and the complex will offer access to multiple forms of public transportation. The Core Companies received the GreenTRIP Program Platinum award for Sparq because of its willingness and openness to look at transportation in a different way. 

Sparq is analyzing alternate ways to address the parking needs of the downtown urban core. “We want to start to move towards a walkable city layout,” Enders says. “Tenants have the option for onsite parking as well as access to ride sharing programs and numerous forms of social based public forms of transportation within steps from their front door.”

The Core Companies’ end goal is to create a better community with each property it develops. With Sparq currently under construction, Enders says he is most proud of the interaction the company has had with the neighbors. “I go on a weekly, sometimes daily basis and talk to the neighbors adjacent to us, those a couple blocks away and to current homeowners to give them updates on the project and we send out construction updates,” he adds. 

“We let them know of any upcoming road closures or if there is a major construction activity occurring in the near future so that we can help them go about their daily routine,” Enders continues. “Keeping everyone involved helps make the process go a lot smoother. That’s probably not something people realize until the end of a project, but being proactive has been a good learning experience.”

Sparq’s greatest amenity is the surrounding neighborhood, Enders says. “It has the best nightlife, coffee shops, fitness centers, art studios and restaurants,” he says. “We really love the SoFA area and want Sparq to tie into, and enhance the existing vibrancy of the community.”

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