If you’ve driven Highway 17 through Los Gatos over the past few months, you’ve probably noticed the dramatic change to the landscape near the Lark Avenue exit. Gone are the venerable trees that dotted this plot of land, now replaced by a barren hillside and massive machines that are transforming the former walnut orchard into what will be the new Los Gatos development, the North 40.
For well over two decades, the Los Gatos North 40 project has been shrouded in a veil of controversy. Set on 44-acres of former walnut orchards that belonged to the Yuki family from the 1940s until 2010, the mixed-use development is finally forging ahead.
It’s been a year since the final walnut trees were removed from the land bordered by Lark Avenue, Highways 17 and 85, and Los Gatos Boulevard. Also gone are establishments like neighborhood watering hole, the Boulevard Tavern. In their place are mountains of dirt, copious bulldozers and excavators, and a lot of change for Los Gatos residents.
All this activity is Phase 1 of the North 40 project, which will include a new community, Bellaterra, which will include 253 homes designed and constructed by Bay Area builder, SummerHill Homes. Bellaterra will have three neighborhoods—The Lofts & Bungalows, The Towns, and The Rows. There will be both attached and detached homes with varying square footage and price points. Bellaterra will have “centralized community gardens where residents can come together to learn and grow, as well as interwoven paseos through the neighborhoods. Celebrating Los Gatos’ history, agricultural heritage, hillside views and small-town character, there are multiple gathering spaces surrounded by orchards where you can dine, unwind and unplug, enjoy bike paths and nearby retail stores and so much more.” Phase 1 is due to be completed by Spring 2020.
One of the unique elements of the project called out in the planning documents for Phase 1 is a Market Hall offering quality artisan products and produce. This “specialty market and neighborhood retail where neighbors, friends and families can gather and celebrate the Los Gatos quality of life” is conserved by SummerHill as the heart of the Bellaterra community.
Other than the visible activity, there hasn’t been much in the news about the development of late. Where once there were contentious City Council meetings, lawsuits, resident alliances, urgent moratoriums, and considerable press, since the moratorium expired and the development was officially approved, all has gone quiet online, on Facebook, and in the press. The North 40 has broken ground and is destined to bring significant change to Los Gatos. Depending upon who you ask, that change is considered forward progress or a blight upon the Town.
There is a Phase 2, which is slated to include more housing and retail/commercial space and potentially a hotel but there are no firm dates as to when this additional stage of the development will occur. Odds are though, that since Phase 1 is well underway, Phase 2 of the Los Gatos North 40 isn’t far behind.