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
If you are new to the area or relocating to Silicon Valley, you may find the sprawling, diverse city of San Jose a little confusing at first, so today I want to do a broad overview of the area. San Jose covers about half of Santa Clara County, includes over a million people, with many school districts, and has lots of distinct areas. Much of it was filled with orchards 100 years ago and was a significant portion of the area then known as The Valley of Heart’s Delight.
Public Schools in San Jose
Since many people coming to San Jose are interested in the public schools, I want to note that the city boundaries are not the same as school district boundaries. Nor do the school boundaries follow zip codes. The lines were drawn before most of the valley was incorporated into cities or towns, so that’s why it is the way it is – old boundaries, many dating from the 1800s. The Union School District serves students in the Cambrian area of San Jose as well as residents of the eastern end of Los Gatos, for example. The biggest school district in SJ is San Jose Unified. To see all of the school districts in the county, visit the Santa Clara County Office of Education site. (A good place to check school scores is SchoolAndHousing.com.)
Districts or Larger Areas within San Jose
Let’s start with a map I created with the major areas identified (this may not be precise but it’s close).
Central San Jose includes many historic neighborhoods within the downtown area (Naglee Park, Vendome, Japantown) as well as many other charming neighborhoods close to downtown (the Rose Garden, Shasta Hanchett, Buena Vista and the tiny area of Little Italy). Often there are historic homes and neighborhoods with beautiful architecture. Willow Glen is just southwest of downtown and is not properly part of central SJ, but it is close.
North San Jose includes the bayfront area of Alviso, Berryessa (on the Milpitas border) and the area broadly referred to as North San Jose. Part of Berryessa is in the foothills and offers lovely views.
East San Jose begins in the flatlands and climbs into the eastern foothills. The Alum Rock area is in this eastern side, but perhpas northeast is a better description. East San Jose features the very popular flea market, Eastridge Mall, and a water park, as well as the Little Saigon neighborhood.
Southest San Jose – along the eastern foothills but toward the south you’ll find the Evergreen neighborhood, most of which are in the hills. The south end of Evergreen enjoys some luxury neighborhoods such as the Silver Creek Valley Country Club, Hillstone, The Ranch on Silver Creek, plus the largest seniors community in the valley: The Villages.
South San Jose, broadly speaking, is situated close to Highway 101 before it reaches Highway 85. The area includes the district of South San Jose and also the district of Santa Teresa, which begins close to where the two freeways meets and goes into the Santa Teresa Foothills (Almaden Valley is on the other side of this small range). Most locals would place Blossom Valley in the broader “South San Jose” region, too.
Southwest San Jose is the area following Highway 85 and includes Almaden Valley and Cambrian, which is next to Los Gatos and Campbell (both noted for good schools). *Side note: I sell all over Santa Clara County but have a concentration of experience in Almaden, Cambrian, and nearby areas such as Los Gatos, Campbell and Saratoga. For this reason, I have covered many neighborhoods & subdivisions in these two areas on this site.
West San Jose refers to homes along the Campbell and Cupertino border. Some of these areas enjoy the Cupertino public schools so are in very high demand, particularly for tech workers commuting to Cupertino, Sunnyvale and nearby.
To learn more about any of these areas, either use the links or navigate to the regions using the menu bar at the top from neighborhoods to San Jose to the area you want.
$760,000 : 601 Adeline AVE, SAN JOSE3 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
$669,000 : 1811 Home Gate DR, SAN JOSE3 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
$1,543,000 : 2335 Constitution DR, SAN JOSE4 beds, 3 full baths
$750,000 : 1258 William CT, SAN JOSE0 beds, 0 baths
$750,000 : 1256 William CT, SAN JOSE0 beds, 0 baths
$877,000 : 4140 Senter RD, SAN JOSE4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
$750,000 : 1254 William CT, SAN JOSE0 beds, 0 baths
$750,000 : 1250 William CT, SAN JOSE0 beds, 0 baths
$750,000 : 1248 William CT, SAN JOSE0 beds, 0 baths
$839,000 : 1581 Tobias DR, SAN JOSE3 beds, 2 full baths
See all Real estate in the city of San Jose.
(all data current as of 3/23/2017)
Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.
The Ranch on Silver Creek is a newer subdivision in the Evergreen area of San Jose with the 95138 zip code (that zip code is shared with part of South San Jose on the valley floor). Mediterranean or contemporary style homes were built there between 2003 and 2006 – which makes them practically “brand new” by Silicon Valley real estate standards! The community is set around a golf course & clubhouse and is nestled in the hills such that there are many different views available from one area to the next without leaving the neighborhood. Many San Jose area home buyers strongly prefer newer homes in newer communities, rather than a remodeled home in an older neighborhood, and this area will certainly fill that requirement. It’s a tidy area with sidewalks which invite a comfortable stroll to discover the sights.
What are homes like at The Ranch?
There are a few hundred homes, so there’s quite a bit of variety there. Entry level townhomes are nice, but fairly modest, and at the other end of the spectrum there are estate quality properties on large view lots.
Houses range from about 2,000 square feet to more than 4,000 square feet. The tiniest parcels or lots are less than 4,000 SF and are townhomes or town houses, and the largest homes, generally, sit on land sized between 1/3 and 1/2 acre (though most are not so big).
Many houses are 2 stories, but there’s a fair number of single story homes, too. Most properties include an attached 2 car garage.
High ceilings, open floor plans, plenty of windows with lots of natural light are all typical here at the Ranch.
As with most newer construction, these houses are built on slab foundations.