Starcity is Redefining the Meaning of Home

Posted on June 19, 2019.

Starcity is Redefining the Meaning of Home

San Jose’s latest high-rise development has just received the green light, however, this one will be a bit unconventional. In fact, it is the first of its kind to be approved in the Bay Area and possibly in the entire United States. The new 18-story tower proposed by the start-up, Starcity, could be San Jose’s first co-living high-rise.

In a recent article, Starcity’s co-founder, John Dishotsky explains how he grew up in his own version of “co-living” with his Stanford professor father offering reduced rent to a cycle of students in their Palo Alto home. Dishotsky remembers sharing meals and home-life experiences with these students and feeling a sense of community. He has transitioned this childhood experience into his current venture with Starcity in an effort to fill a gap in America’s housing-strapped cities. Since launching in 2016, Starcity has broken ground on 7 developments using their “co-living” model where each renter gets a furnished 130- to 220- square foot bedroom with a shared kitchen and living space.

With current Starcity rent’s ranging from $1,400-$2,400, they promise to make the living arrangements “delightful and sustainable so that people can stay in cities long-term.” Starcity’s website continues on to say that they will accomplish this mission by redefining the meaning of home.

As of last week, the development has been granted the green light to begin work on what will be Starcity’s largest project to date. The plan is to build an 18-story tower with 803 units in the heart of downtown San Jose. Rents will start in the low $2,000s and will include furnishings, utilities, WiFi, and relationship forming activities to cultivate a sense of community.

This co-living model is reminiscent of past developments known as Single Room Occupancy Hotels (SROs), which had a reputation of grime and short-term occupancy. Starcity considers itself as being distinct from this outdated SRO concept with its hip, sleek designs and amenities. They are dedicated to creating communal spaces and kitchens that will attract more long-term stays. They anticipate that over 70% of their tenants will want leases longer than month-to-month.

This unique style of residential development is new to the South Bay with San Jose playing host to the largest project Starcity has ever proposed. In order to move forward with this “mega project”, Starcity had to work with the city to change local zoning codes. After receiving the approval to rezone in February, “co-living” became its own distinct land-use classification in April. 

“To our knowledge, this is the first dedicated ‘co-living’ zoning code to be established in the U.S.,” commented one of Starcity’s development managers, Eli Sokol.

This development has come at an extremely opportune time as the average rent for a one-bedroom in San Jose has reached $2,700 and only shows signs of rising as tech giants such as Google and Adobe look to expand within the downtown core and Diridon Station makes progress towards expanding routes.

The development is projected to begin construction in the fall with a late 2021 completion date. However, as with all development, this timeline will likely change. Even with the likely delays and pending issues, this is an innovative and interesting approach to mitigate for some of the Bay Area’s current housing woes. As San Jose enters a new era of development, we may begin to see more of this kind of creativity and change-driven thinking as developers begin to think outside of the standard high-rise box.