Lonely Planet review for Santana Row
A completely planned real-estate venture, Santana Row is a mixed-use space that brings together shopping, dining and entertainment along with townhouses, lofts and flats. There's a large boutique hotel and a multiplex cinema.
At its heart is a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare that calls to mind 'Main St' ideals of traditional American small-town life, but the style of the architecture and overall effect is Mediterranean. The restaurants spill out onto sidewalk terraces, and public spaces have been designed to invite loitering and promenading. The idea is a popular one, and on warm evenings, the area is swarming with an energetic crowd. There are some excellent restaurants here, so it might behoove the traveler to join the fun.
Santana Row is interesting even if the thought of ersatz European spaces doesn't smell quite right. Proponents of this type of development call Santana Row a 'model for smart growth.' Detractors complain that the project simply draws shoppers away from San Jose's real downtown. Of course, over the centuries, some of the most vital urban areas were similarly calculated, so perhaps in time Santana Row will attain its own authenticity.
Intriguingly, in August 2002, just weeks before Santana Row's opening, a fire burned down the largest building on the block. The 11-alarm fire was the largest in San Jose's history.