Urban Infill: Taking Affordable Housing to a New Level
While many housing projects are sitting on the table waiting for the economy to pick up, Mercy Housing California is serving up a buffet of new developments around the state.
“Things have slowed down the last couple years with the recession, but [work] is coming in and we are fully staffed and I think we will meet our goal this year,” says Rick Sprague, regional director of resource development for the San Francisco-based company, which develops, finances and operates affordable housing for low-income families, seniors and people with special needs.
“There were some delays with all the tax credits, the banks, the cities and all of our other funding partners that get these projects built and developed, but things are starting to move along.”
The company, which covers 41 states and has four California offices, currently has 29 projects worth nearly $1 billion in 14 cities throughout the state. The projects are either under construction, in development or on the drawing board.
“And these numbers do not include many more transactions where we are in negotiations or responding to RFP’s,” Sprague says.
Two of Mercy’s most exciting recent infill projects are in Northern California. They are Westbrook Plaza in San Francisco and Gleason Apartments in Stockton.
Costing $25.8 million, the Gleason Apartment project consists of 93 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom affordable apartments within 10 residential buildings ranging from two to three stories. A new community center and Head Start center operated by Head Start Child Development Council Inc. will also be constructed on the 3.6-cre site.
The units will be affordable to households earning 50% of Stockton Area Median Income (AMI), which is approximately $35,450.
The 81,000-sq-ft development, which broke ground in April, is located adjacent to downtown in the Gleason Park redevelopment area and is next to the new Spanos Elementary School.
“The [Gleason] site is an infill location at the gateway to the long-neglected and blighted Gleason Park neighborhood,” says Wendy Saca, Mercy project developer. “This revitalization effort is designed to better integrate the Gleason Park neighborhood with other redevelopment efforts in the area including various projects in nearby downtown Stockton.”
When complete in summer 2012, the apartment complex will include onsite resident services, including after-school programs, computer labs, adult career and academic programs, health and wellness workshops and neighborhood safety programs.
The project will also bring contemporary style to the area.
“The design plays off the older neighborhood that surrounds the project,” says Jose Coelho, project architect with Oakland-based HY Architects. “At one point there were a lot of Victorian-style homes in the area, so we were trying to keep that homey feeling with a kind of modern twist on the Victorian style.”
He says the concept was to take the open rafter overhangs, tapered columns, wood siding, detailed window sills, gable roofs, raised front porches and carry that idea throughout the housing buildings to tie them back to the rest of the neighborhood.
“The community building acts as an anchor and has more of a contemporary look with its metal sloped roof, clean cement plaster rectangular shapes and large pyramid skylight to relate better to the new school built across the street,” Coelho says.
Green features will include solar panels and low-impact, water-wise landscaping incorporated throughout.
Funding for the development is coming from the city of Stockton Redevelopment Agency, California Department of Housing & Community Development, Wells Fargo Bank and the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee. Woodland-based Broward Builders is serving as contractor on project.