Looking Back: Sayonara to Japantown’s Historic Print Shop? (Part 2)

Takaichi's print shop was previously located on Jackson Street. Peter (Minanosuke) Takaichi was also served as a minister at the nearby Konko Church.
Photo: Takaichi's print shop was previously located on Jackson Street. Peter (Minanosuke) Takaichi also served as a minister at the nearby Konko Church. Photo courtesy of JAMsj

Since a demolition request was made for the National Printing Company building at 510 N. 5th Street (1923 to present), I was curious as to the process in determining the fate of the structure.  I decided to check in with Brian Grayson, Executive Director of the Preservation Action Council of San Jose (PAC*SJ), an organization dedicated to preserving San Jose's architectural heritage.

Grayson responded that an historic report had been done, and that the consultant found that retention of the structure was the most preferable choice from an historic preservation perspective. The consultant went on to say that an alternative would be to retain the façade, but that if complete demolition was permitted, "…the design of the new proposed project should be compatible with the predominant character of the historic Japantown neighborhood".

Grayson also provided comments from the City’s Planning Department which essentially said that, "…the building was identified as eligible for listing as a contributor to a potential National and City historic landmark district…the proposed demolition would not conform to the following General Plan policies". The City policies cited are:

  • Land Use Policy 13.9: Promote the preservation, conservation, rehabilitation, restoration, reuse and/or reconstruction, as appropriate, of contextual elements (e.g. structures, landscapes, street lamps, street trees, sidewalk design, signs) related to candidate and/or landmark buildings, structures, districts, or areas.
  • Land Use Policy 14.1: Give high priority to the preservation of historic structures that contribute to an informal cluster or a Conservation Area; have a special value in the community; are a good fit for preservation within a new project; have a compelling design and/or an important designer; etc.

If the applicant chose to proceed further, the next step would be a public hearing at a Wednesday morning "Planning Director’s Hearing." Planning Department comments also stated, "…the building was constructed over 50 years ago and as such, triggers a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review and that demolition could potentially be found to be a significant impact". Because historical resources (buildings, structures, or archeological resources) are considered part of the environment, they are subject to review under CEQA.

Photo: Toshio Kimura.
Photo: Toshio Kimura. In 1910, Toshio Kimura founded the Japantown print shop now known as National Printing Company, reportedly San Jose's oldest commercial printer. Photo courtesy of the Kimura family

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