Almaden Valley in San Jose is comprised of many neighborhoods and subdivisions. One of them, close to the border with Los Gatos and Cambrian Park, is particularly popular: the Oak Canyon neighborhood.
There are many reasons for its draw among Silicon Valley home buyers: the houses were well built by Shea Homes in about 1980, so they are relatively newer by Silicon Valley standards. They’re larger homes on comfortable lots, often 8000 sf or so but some as small as 6500 sf and others larger than a quarter acre in the Oak Canyon corner of Almaden.
Most of the homes boast a 3 car garage, which is a big help with storage of stuff, if not storage of cars. The roads gently turn, which makes a more pleasing look. It’s a very “conforming” neighborhood where everyone keeps up the homes and yards. Much of Almaden is viewed by consumers as somewhat remote, but this section, near the mouth of Almaden, is not too deep into the valley and is a better commute location for most. One of the largest pulls for the area, though, is the nearby elementary school, Guadalupe School, which has API scores in the 900s.
Where is the Oak Canyon neighborhood in Almaden Valley, San Jose?
Oak Canyon is found near the intersection of Camden Avenue and Coleman Road in San Jose but is bordered by Coleman on one side and the Guadalue Creek on the other sides. (The far side of the Guadalupe Creek at this point is Cambrian Park.)
And to provide some bearings, here’s a map of the Almaden Valley district of San Jose generally:
The architecturally diverse and entirely charming Rose Garden neighborhood in San Jose is perennially attractive to home buyers. Silicon Valley residents appreciate the easy access to downtown San Jose and travel routes, but perhaps even more are drawn by the beautiful park the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden. They also appreciate that this is not just another area filled with tract style homes. Many of the properties in this part of the 95126 zip code are custom or semi-custom built and enjoy a wide variety of styles. Here are a few images of houses in the Rose Garden neighborhood of San Jose:
Where is the Rose Garden neighborhood?
Boundaries for the community are not well defined, but generally this neighborhood is considered to be South of 880, East of Bascom, West of the Alameda from 880 to Naglee Ave, and then West of Dana Ave to Lincoln High or Forest Ave. This area has over 1,000 homes. Some might say the area included is much larger, or much closer in to the park, but these lines generally represent the safe bet for what is considered Rose Garden neighborhood. Nearby neighborhoods include Shasta-Hanchett and Burbank. The Buena Vista neighborhood is not too far to the south, also. Santa Clara sits just a little north of the Rose Garden. Downtown San Jose is about 2 miles from these.
Before the Rose Garden neighborhood was a neighborhood…
Once primarily prune and pear orchards, this upscale corner of the valley began to transform into a residential district in the 1800s and is home to one of the oldest subdivisions or tracts in the state – the Chapman & Davis Tract, built in a Norman and Tudor style. Originally, streets there had large estates on large lots. Though the parcels have been subdivided many times since, it still has many large old homes, from Victorians through the 1940s bungalows. Many of the smaller, cottage style residences have been built onto or removed and transformed into larger estates to match. Most houses have a detached garage. As you drive through the streets near the park, you will find that the roads are widest where the houses and lots are the biggest, and smaller roads access the smaller houses.
The San Jose Municipal Rose Garden
The San Jose Municipal Rose Garden is a 5.5 acre garden with over 4,000 rose bushes and almost 200 varieties. Originally, it was part of a prune orchard of about 11 acres, and was made a park in 1927. Central to the garden is a broad fountain surrounded by paths with benches, which most of the roses encircle. The garden stretches out on either side with green lawns, and is bordered by large redwood trees and a gate, creating a buffer from the street. It also features covered walkways, picnic benches, and a stage.
The Almaden Winery neighborhood, just off Blossom Hill Road in San Jose, has a rich and interesting past, dating back to the mid 1850s when the site was first planted with grape vines. It was the first winery in Almaden Valley and one of the oldest in the state of California. (It survived the prohibition period by getting licensed to make sacramental wine and by bottling grape juice.)
In this post I’ll share some photos of the neighborhood with you, explain about the three different builders/developers and show you where to find each one.
With a bit more than 300 houses, the Almaden Winery area is quite popular, with its homes selling quickly. The community centers around a lovely park, and additionally there’s a newer library adjacent to it – the Vineland Branch of the San Jose public library system.
The University Square neighborhood in Santa Clara is walking distance to Santa Clara University. I grew up there, riding my bike in the forbidden college walkways, and recall my Realtor mother referring to the area as “Little Professorville.” That was a reference to a lovely Palo Alto neighborhood in the shadow of Stanford University. She wasn’t wrong – we knew some professors who walked to SCU each day from that neighborhood, including my grandfather.
Where is the University Square neighborhood?
The neighborhood may not have exact boundaries, but appears to be bordered by Park Avenue on the east, Washington Street on the west, the University to the north, and Newhall Avenue to the south.
The area closest to the campus is fairly congested, both with density of housing and the amount of cars parked everywhere. This is where you’ll see the reminder that it’s a quiet, residential zone.
Get past Poplar, though, and suddenly it’s a completely different feel, with almost no cars on the street and homes being spread further apart.
The homes found between Washington and Park, and along Alviso Street, are mixed architecturally. Some streets, like Circle Drive and College Avenue, are primarily ranch style houses built from 1955 – 1950 (some of the county records say 1900 – that just means they lost the records and don’t know!). Some of these have been expanded tremendously. The house I grew up in as a child was 1400 square feet, but it’s been added onto a couple or more times and is now more than 3000 SF.
Hilmar Street is older, mostly built in 1940 with a mix of styles, including Cape Cod, Tudor, and Bungalow. Most of the homes have detached garages, and on the south side of one block, the garages are accessed by an alley! We do not have many areas like that in Silicon Valley, but it makes the front of the home look almost like a movie set. That street is also lined with Cherry trees which explode with blossoms each spring, making a beautiful sight. Here’s a photo I took on February 14th, 2006 of that street.
And one more view, from the same day.
The homes here are mostly on 6000 to 9000 sf lots, and range from 1400 to 2500 SF in the majority of cases. There are 2 car garages. In the older houses, the garages will be detached, but in the ranch style houses, they are attached.
There are sidewalks throughout the University Square neighborhood. Often there’s a sidewalk strip, meaning a space for trees and other landscaping between the street and the sidewalk. Other times, the sidewalk is directly adjacent to the road.
This is not a pretentious neighborhood. The homes are mostly fairly modest, middle class homes. But they are convenient for both the university and for a trip to downtown San Jose via either The Alameda or Park Avenue. There’s a lot to be said for not needing a freeway with today’s congestion! As it is scenic, well maintained, and convenient, it’s also expensive, with home prices running about 20% more than the county average for a single family house.
Here’s another lovely home on Hilmar.
Want to check out the neighborhood some more? Browse the listings of University Square Santa Clara homes for sale here:
Homes for sale or recently sold in the University Square neighborhood in Santa Clara
To see what’s for sale, pending, or recently sold in the University Square neighborhood of Santa Clara, please visit this link:
Cambrian Park, or more broadly, Cambrian, is a west San Jose neighborhood or district and is one of the more affordable, high-value areas in Silicon Valley. The schools are good, the crime is low, and the commute is not too bad. For people relocating to Santa Clara County, this is a place to know about since quality education and affordability are often high priorities! Most Silicon Valley home buyers would say that Cambrian Park real estate offers a very good value.
What’s the compromise for the more reasonable prices of homes for sale? Well, Cambrian doesn’t have an interesting, upscale downtown area like Campbell, Los Gatos, Saratoga, or Willow Glen.
But it does have tons of shopping & restaurants and even a Farmer’s Market. It also enjoys a top notch hospital (Good Samaritan) and plenty of parks as well as a fantastic rec center with a large park adjacent to it, the Camden Community Center, which has tons of programs (including an after school program for youth), classes, and a fabulous pool. (My family and I lived in Cambrian in the “Cambrian Gardens” neighborhood for 10 years and loved it – our kids made great use of the community center too.)
Altogether, there are about 75,000 to 80,000 residents in Cambrian, spread throughout the three zip codes of 95124, 95118 and a little tiny bit of 95008.
If there is a “central Cambrian Park”, it would have to be near the original Cambrian Park Shopping Center, which was the first actual mall in San Jose! That area is sometimes known as Cambrian Village. People sometimes use the three names interchangeably: Cambrian, Cambrian Park, Cambrian Village.:
Where is Cambrian Park? Map of approximate Cambrian Boundaries:
View Cambrian Area of San Jose in a larger map
Whether you call it the San Jose area, Santa Clara County, Silicon Valley, The South Bay, or even the old moniker of “The Valley of Heart’s Delight”, there is a lot to love about living here. I’ve put together a slideshow with a taste of the residential communities in and near San Jose, including Almaden, Willow Glen, Cambrian, Evergreen, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Campbell, Cupertino, Santa Clara and more. Sit back and enjoy the photos!
One of the prettiest townhome communities in Santa Clara County is Vizcaya, which features a Mediterranean style of architecture in a community that is extremely tidy and well maintained. Driving in, it feels like you’ve just arrived at a resort.
Where is Vizcaya?
The Vizacaya neighborhood is in San Jose just off S Bascom and Curtner Avenues, but is close to the Campbell border and confusingly, has a Campbell mailing address. The community’s streets are Vizcaya Circle, Vizcays Way, and Pescara Court. The location is very convenient, with easy access to shopping, bus lines, and major traffic routes.
What are the homes like at Vizcaya?
Built between 1990 and 1996, these 92 townhomes are younger feeling and tend to have fairly open floor plans and plenty of large windows. The home sizes range between 2396 SF and 2656 SF, but many are so nicely designed that they tend to feel like single family homes. Lot sizes average around 4,100 SF (pretty big for a townhouse). The parcels range in size from 2480 SF to over 10,000 SF but most are 3000 – 5000 SF.
The homes in the Vizcaya community are condominiums with a townhouse architectural style. (Some townhouses are held in PUD ownership. In some locations, such as Almaden and Los Gatos, there are houses which are condos – or held in condo ownership.) There’s a small pool and spa at the center of the complex for residents to enjoy. The day I took the photos shown in the slideshow, below, painting was ongoing next to the pool, so it isn’t shown.
What does it cost to buy a townhome in Vizcaya?
These upscale properties don’t come on the market too often, but if you are lucky enough to find one available to buy, chances are that it will cost a million dollars or a more (as of this writing in October 2016).
An old apricot orchard used to line Blossom Hill Road between Union and Leigh Avenues until the 1990s. The former owners, Ralph and Sophie Heintz, lived there in their farmhouse until their deaths, at which time the property was willed to the University of California at Berkeley for eye research.
Sophie and Ralph were interesting people. He ran a small train on their property and was an inventor. She was a ham radio operator.
In 1998, the Heintz land (and house etc.) was sold to Summerhill Homes and a portion developed as housing. That Los Gatos neighborhood is now called Heritage Grove A strip of trees was planted along Blossom Hill Road, reminiscent of the history of the area. A large section of land was made a permanent open space, now known as the Heintz Open Space Preserve. This open space connects directly with Belgatos Park, which also connects with the Santa Rosa Open Space Preserve. So the network of trails is quite extensive. (Link to Town of Los Gatos page with pdf files of these three trail maps. Link to Google Maps map of Blossom Hill Trails, drawn by Jim Handy.)
The Heintz’s big, old farmhouse has been renovated and is being lived in. Ralph Heintz’s old workshop, the Ramohs Laboratory, is preserved with signs explaining the history of the place nearby. Continue reading
Like many Cambrian neighborhoods, the Westchester Manor subdivision in the Alta Vista area includes well kept homes and yards, tree lined streets, and wonderful public schools. This neighborhood, though, is unique in that residents can amble to the elementary or middle school without crossing major streets. And the same can be said of getting to the local grocery store, Safeway, coffee shop, and other stores. For home buyers seeking walkability or easy access, this is a place to check out! But it’s not just about that. From here it’s an easy jump to both Highway 85 off Union Avenue or a run to Vasona Lake County Park and downtown Los Gatos via Blossom Hill Road. On top of all that, add the very close proximity of the hills and you get the feeling that you’re not quite in the middle of a city at all.
Where is Westchester Manor?
The Alta Vista neighborhood is part San Jose / Cambrian, and part Los Gatos (see a map of the boundaries of the city / town at this newer article of mine: http://liveinlosgatosblog.com/alta-vista-neighborhood/). It’s bordered by Los Gatos-Almaden Road to the north, Union to the east, and Blossom Hill to the south. Within that area, Westchester Manor is entirely in San Jose and sits on the northest end of the neighborhood, next to Union Middle School.
This neighborhood has a very high owner occupancy rate – 88% from the numbers I pulled from Realist (a report available to members of the MLS) today. It’s a low-turnover, stable neighborhood. People move in, and they stay!
What are the homes like in Westchester Manor?
This is a predominantly “ranch style” neighborhood with mostly single story houses, but still quite a few two story ones, in an area with sidewalks, curbs, and gutters. Most houses have 3-4 bedrooms and at least 2 full bathrooms.
There are 3 tracts named within this subdivision. They don’t have exciting labels but instead are called tracts 1481, 1903, and 1997. There are 30-35 lots in each one and 106 in all.
There’s variation in age, but not much. Of the 106 homes which are identified as part of Westchester Manor – and there are a few on Coronet that aren’t – perhaps 75% were built between 1957 and 1959 and some in tract 1997 (including and near Grey Court) were built as late as 1965 (I found one house built in 1956 also). Most of them have been at least somewhat updated and others fully remodeled.
Home sizes range with the smallest homes at 1283SF, 1293 SF, 1308SF, and 1327 SF. The biggest houses are 3656SF, 3607Sf, 3171SF, and 3072SF. The median sized square footage (half are more, half less) is 1750 SF. Continue reading
In the Houge Park area of Cambrian, you’ll see an area identified as Parker on many online maps. The actual name of the subdivision there is Villa Cambrian, though – funny how disconnected they are from each other!
There are 153 houses in Villa Cambrian, which were built between 1960 and 1965. They range in size from 1222 SF to 2800 SF, and most homes are around 1222 -1457 square feet. The lots or parcels run from the smallest size of 5509 SF to more than 10,000 SF; most are less than 7000 SF, though.
Something unique and much appreciated by privacy lovers: all but 1 are single story houses.
Cambrian home buyers are drawn to this Parker neighborhood for many reasons, among them these:
- very tidy neighborhood, most homes are well-kept
- fantastic Union schools (Carlton, Union, and Leigh)
- the close proximity of Houge Park
- the ease of getting onto either Highway 85 or Highway 17
- the convenience of nearby shopping, too (at Camden and Union, especially)
- especially accessible to Harker’s preschool and to Xilinx
Perhaps most of all, this little pocket seems to be more affordable than many areas with the same schools. It appears to be a good opportunity for the money. Continue reading