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The Works Lives Up to the Name

Sometimes I’m left a bit speechless by a new development’s location and architectural audacity.  The Works by Barry Swenson definitely pulled it off.  Unfortunately Barry, it’s not pleasant.

The Works is a “relatively” new condo development in the middle of an industrial warehouse district off of Highway 280’s Virginia exit on 125 Patterson St.  Despite being built back in 2006, the community still has brand new units for sale.  Admittedly, the price is attractive, which is what drew me there.  But, once you get in, you really understand why there are available units.

One of the units I previewed for a client was a top floor loft-style unit that faces directly onto Highway 280.  I’m calling it loft-style as the ceiling slopes down from the 2nd floor loft to the first floor, giving the impression that the upstair loft is an afterthought tucked above the first floor.  As you walk up the staircase to the loft, the ceiling drops perilously close, giving you mere inches (about 3-4 inches for me) of clearance above your head.  Once you’re at the loft level’s open bedroom, you feel really cramped and a bit of vertigo as the ceiling slopes down and almost pours over the edge of the loft.  Then, there’s an odd exit from the bedroom to a “mezzanine” patio area shared by 3 other top floor units.

Back on the first floor, you get 4 picture windows facing directly onto the traffic rushing ceaselessly by on Highway 280.  You’re literally a stone’s throw from the passing cars and the double pane windows are powerless against the roar of the road.  This is as good a case as any for at least triple pane windows, if not a complete second set of double pane windows.  I’ve lived in a similarly situated apartment in LA so I can vouch that the third pane will already make a huge difference.

Even though you can technically see downtown San Jose, you’re no where near it.  So, beware of all the desperate superlatives used by agents to describe this location.  The dilapidated warehouse district is up-and-coming, but it’s not anywhere near walkable yet.  The neighboring streets are established but low-rent.  Combine that with the crowded feel of the interior landscaping which doesn’t even resemble a courtyard, the noisy location doesn’t make for comfortable living.  With a brand new 2 bedroom unit still going for $299K, the aforementioned short sale loft going for $244K seems distinctly overpriced, even if it’s down by 45% since the original sale.

Michael Cheng