A waiting list of thousands for San Jose’s upcoming Downtown Housing Towers

Three downtown San Jose housing towers have reached a key money milestone for a development that has accumulated a waiting list of thousands of prospective residents.

The highrises are being planned for sites at 420 S. Second Street, 98 E. San Salvador St. and 420 S. Third St. in downtown San Jose’s hip and trendy SoFA district.

In the most recent funding round for the project, Nabr raised $48 million in financing through an effort led by 2150, a venture capital firm that is investing in startups that are creating ways to make cities more eco-friendly and liveable. Nabr is a real estate tech company that uses software to automate how people choose and design their homes and craft financing packages.

“The funding puts us in position to begin the next phase of this project,” said Roni Bahar, chief executive officer and co-founder with Nabr. “In our next phase, we are going to start interacting and transacting with customers and residents.”

Together, the three highrises are expected to produce about 500 units once they are built, according to Nabr, a real estate firm that is heading up the development and delivery of the residences.

“We have developed a waitlist of potential residents,” said Cara Eckholm, head of growth with Nabr. “We have about 4,000 people on that waitlist.”

About 45% of the people on the waitlist are people who currently reside in single-family homes, according to Nabr.

“There is untapped demand for living in downtown San Jose,” Bahar said. “We want to see more people become permanent residents in our large cities, especially in our urban core.”

The first of the three towers that will be made available for customers will contain 140 units. At the outset, Nabr intends to sell and not rent the units.

“We are building apartments for ownership, which is very rarely done in a downtown area,” Bahar said. “We are approaching our first building as a very high-quality project. These will be market-rate units.”

Affordable homes aren’t included in the units. The units will be geared towards middle-income and higher-income people.

“It is extremely expensive to build in San Jose,” Bahar said. “We will not make an affordable product, as that is defined, in our initial products.”

Customers who don’t have enough money for a down payment can negotiate a deal with an option to buy the unit.

“We make the process transparent and very clear to customers,” Bahar said. “The idea is to make the process of buying a home very enjoyable for the consumer.”

The real estate firm describes itself as a consumer-oriented housing company that delivers custom and sustainable apartments in large numbers.

“Nabr treats housing like a true consumer product,” the company states. “Our goal is to put more people on a path to owning a high-quality, environmentally friendly home in the city.”

The homes are expected to be of a much higher quality than is typically the case for residences in an urban center, in Nabr’s view.

“In our conversations with consumers, we are trying to tap into people who are 27 to 40 who are in the beginning of forming a family, are first-time homebuyers who are looking in the $1 million to $2 million range,” Eckholm said.

Nabr will also now seek to obtain financing to bankroll the construction of the first tower.

The co-founders of Nabr are Bjarke Ingels, founder and principal executive of legendary architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group; Bahar, a former WeWork executive; and Nick Chim, co-founder of Flux, a spinout of the ultra-secret Google X laboratory.

As a result, the designs of the units are expected to have a Scandinavian feel to them. The residences will also have at least one amenity that is nearly never seen in a downtown apartment.

“The balconies are massive, 350 square feet,” Bahar said. “You can have a barbecue, a dining room, maintain a vegetable garden, you can grow a tree.”

Nabr also hopes to help spur a rebound in urban cores such as downtown San Jose.

“People always come back to cities, back to the downtown,” Bahar said. “We see downtown San Jose as the launchpad for our approach to owning a home.”

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