When Joe Gigantino bought his first business, the year was 1997.
The spot he purchased was designed to be a racquetball club, and located at 1000 Jacklin Road, right off of the 680 freeway. It had initially opened in Milpitas in 1979.
Having recently graduated from college in Fresno, Gigantino had been involved in the health club business. So when he moved to the Bay Area with his wife, purchasing a racquetball club seemed like a good move.
And at the time, the world of fitness was changing — rapidly so…
The club was designed with around 16 courts, which could only hold between 30 to 50 people at a time.
“The way fitness was going at the time, we took out all the racquetball courts and then were able to have 250 people there,” said Gigantino. “It got popular. And as fitness grew, we grew.”
The fitness club thrived for many years. Yet after a couple decades, things started to change. The building got older. Competition came in. The world of fitness was evolving yet again. And Gigantino knew it was time to make a key decision…
In 2017, he leased the building to a fitness operator, and they ran it for a couple years.
“I knew they were struggling, so I told them we’d let them out of the lease, so that we could work on a new development,” Gigantino explained.
The operator’s fitness business shut down in January, 2019. Since then, the building has been vacant.
But lately, Gigantino has been in talks with La Quinta Hotel, which is owned by Wyndham Worldwide. They are planning to take over the building and put a 105-room, 5-story hotel in its place.
Gigantino had been approached by many other businesses — fast food outfits, mobile home parks, senior housing developers. But none of those quite felt right to him for that particular spot in Milpitas.
Since Gigantino and his wife had property in Gilroy, they always drove by the La Quinta Hotel in Morgan Hill, and always loved what they saw.
“So my wife and I sat down with La Quinta,” said Gigantino. “We liked the La Quinta brand and felt like it fit with the city.”
The Milpitas La Quinta Hotel would include a meeting room, lounge area, office space, fitness center, and indoor pool and spa. The old fitness club would be demolished in order to construct the hotel. On December 11, the project will go in front of the Planning Commission.
Earlier this month, the City sent out notices to all the residents who lived within 1,000 feet of the vacant fitness center, to alert them to the upcoming Public Hearing for the hotel, and to inform them of a community meeting on the topic.
The notices set off a wave of alarm for some in the community. Some residents took to Next Door to express their concerns about a hotel occupying that Jacklin spot. Among their concerns: traffic, lack of parking, loss of views of the hills, and even fear over the hotel’s clientele.
“It hurts a bit that people would make blanket statements,” said Gigantino. “I heard things about crime and ‘my kids walk to school.’ But I’ve traveled my whole life and stayed in beautiful places, and I can’t even fathom where that notion would come from.”
Mark Tiernan is a consultant on the La Quinta project, having been involved with it since September, 2018. He mentioned that, during the work week, the hotel would mostly be serving people who were coming into town for business trips, and on the weekend, families that were visiting the area.
“And there’s no restaurant or bar in the hotel, so there won’t be people just coming in to get a drink or have a meal,” said Tiernan.
As far as traffic is concerned, Gigantino recalls that when his fitness club was operational, there were between 600 and 700 people coming in to work out there a day. And as he pointed out, the hotel would only have 105 rooms. So even if all the rooms got booked, the resulting traffic would never reach the height it hit around the club.
Also, a Traffic Operations Analysis (in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act) was conducted by the City, and found that there would be no critical delays…
Also, a report conducted by LSA Associates, Inc. found that “development of the proposed project would not obscure any views of scenic vistas from surrounding public vantage points.”
In terms of parking, there will be a total of 105 parking spots to match the amount of rooms available. Parking will be comprised of 38 underground spaces and 67 surface parking spaces. The hotel will also have a shuttle service, doing drop-offs and pick-ups, from the Milpitas BART station and the San Jose airport.
“We appreciate the community’s interest and feedback on the proposed hotel. Residents in the area will experience less traffic with a hotel in comparison to many other allowed commercial uses, including during peak times on North Hillview and Jacklin,” shared City of Milpitas Public Information Officer Jennifer Yamaguma. “In addition, renderings of the hotel have been developed to illustrate the appearance from various nearby neighborhood locations. The City continues to welcome input on the proposed project, which will be heard by the Planning Commission on December 11, 2019.”
Last November, a Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) was approved by voters, requiring all hotel and motel owners to collect 14% in occupancy taxes.
“It will be a nice benefit for the city because of the TOT tax it would generate,” said Gigantino. “Milpitas has grown over the years and people need a place to stay that’s affordable, so they don’t have to stay in Downtown San Jose for $400 a night. When you look at the other opportunities we could’ve put there, I believe we went with something that’s going to be very low-impact in the area.”
Gigantino and his wife own other properties, most of which are in the field of fitness. Currently, they buy fitness properties, which they find fitness operators to run. Gigantino also acknowledged the reality of things running their course over the years. Sometimes properties have to be taken down, and something completely new must come in to take their place. He looks at the La Quinta Hotel as an opportunity to redevelop the site for a higher and better use.
“We’ve had this location in Milpitas for 20 years and I love the city,” said Gigantino. “I would never want to do anything that wouldn’t be the right thing in the City of Milpitas. That’s why I feel so passionate about the project. And I’m going to see it through. I take pride in what we do. We want to build something beautiful and long-lasting that will be there for years.”