By Len Ramirez

SAN JOSE (KPIX) – The Little Portugal neighborhood near Five Wounds church in San Jose will be transformed when BART pushes into downtown San Jose of the next decade.

The area is a designed to be a new “Urban Village” with an underground station on 28th Street, plus large blocks of housing, offices, and retail shops.

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“What we submitted is a plan for 205 residential units,” said Jerry Strangis, a consultant who represents a property owner who has submitted some of the first housing plans for the area.

They call for an existing low-rise retail space on 27th Street to be replaced by a large six-story structure with possible market rate and below market rate housing.

“The improvements that will occur here with the BART project, you’re going to see a night and day difference,” Strangis said.

It will modernize one of San Jose’s oldest neighborhoods. Some areas are now blighted, with trash and homeless camps on nearby streets. But several small businesses are still carving out a living.

Tony Valencia, who reupholsters car interiors, is afraid the new BART station and Urban Village will eventually displace him.

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“The plan is to get rid of all the small mom and pop stores and basically eliminate some of the culturE. The Flea Market’s been around forever and look what the BART did to it,” Valencia said.

That’s a common concern in the Latino and Portuguese community.

“It’s a lot of tension, but it’s a necessary project. We’re not going to be able to stop it. It’s already at Berryessa and it’s got to continue,” said Carlos Diaz of the Alum Rock Business Network.

Diaz said his group is working with BART and VTA to lessen the impact on existing businesses, as well as Five Wounds Church and Christo Rey High School.

One neighbor said BART will be for better and worse.

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“Worse is too crazy, too many people. Better is that BART is close to us so, we can travel wherever we want to go,” said neighbor Arturo Garcia.