Long after the construction season ended at dozens of housing developments around Mountain View, one private developer is pushing forward with a new duplex on Irwin Street.
The lot — which stood empty for years — belongs to Peruvian businessman Paul Santillana. His son, Gabriel Santillana, is helping develop the duplex project and plans on acquiring the property once construction is complete.
“I’ve lived here since I was a baby,” said Santillana, who grew up in a home on the same Irwin Street lot. “I have a million stories about this place.”
He remembers school at Mountain View Elementary; riding around the neighborhood on the handlebars of his neighbor’s bike; his first fight with the kids who lived in an apartment around the corner, the kids who later became some of his closest childhood friends.
When he was still young, his family moved back to Peru and he saw what poverty can be like. As an adult, home in Alaska, he went to work on the North Slope and put his savings into mobile homes in Anchorage. He says he wants to build something for himself. The duplex on Irwin Street is just one of the steps.
But he’s not sure if he wants to live here again. He thinks there’s something wrong in Mountain View; he says the decorative metal frames that block the ends of several neighborhood streets feel like the bars in a jail cell. And he has a 6-month-old son now.
” I don’t want him to be in this area,” Santillana said. “There’s so much negativity.”
He feels it in the way people talk and the way people treat the neighborhood. And at the end of the day, he says, it seems like one big self-fulfilling prophecy.
“A lot of people, when they’re surrounded by all this negative stuff … you are what you’re surrounded by,” he said.