Del Monte site’s senior housing on City Council agenda

Del Monte site’s senior housing on City Council agenda

Bill Chapin

The last time the Alameda Housing Authority debuted an affordable housing project specifically for seniors, George Bush was president — George H.W. Bush. Independence Village at Webster Street and Atlantic Avenue opened in 1991.

“To develop affordable senior units is extremely financially challenging,” authority Executive Director Vanessa Cooper said in a written statement. Even though plans the former Del Monte warehouse will add just 31 housing units for low-income seniors to the city’s stock, they represent an important opportunity, she said.

The Alameda City Council will turn its attention to the Del Monte project’s senior housing on Tuesday evening. The agenda contains a trio of items that together would allow the construction of affordable rental units for seniors — a requirement of the project’s master plan and development agreement. The modern, three-story building would be adjacent to the historic warehouse, at the corner of Buena Vista Avenue and Sherman Street.

While the council approved the Del Monte master plan in December — and upheld that decision after new members joined the council in January — these next steps are necessary for the $125 million project to move forward. They include a resolution approving the affordable housing agreement between the city and developer Tim Lewis Communities, as well as actions to create a parcel on which to build the senior housing.

Tim Lewis Communities is partnering with the housing authority, which will build, own and mange the building. Plans call for the developer to transfer 0.4 acres of land to the authority for a dollar. The authority would also pay a dollar for a half-acre city-owned parcel. The council must approve this transfer, as well as a tentative subdivision map for the property.

The map would combine the authority’s two parcels and divide the developer’s remaining property into six more parcels, allowing for the project to proceed in two phases and setting aside another 0.8 acres for future development.

The housing authority will apply for tax credits to help cover the cost of development, but Tim Lewis Communities is responsible for making up the difference. While the exact amount of this gap is unknown, Cooper expects it to be “several million dollars.”

“This is a unique opportunity because the city and the developer are contributing the land and the developer is providing the infrastructure and the gap funding to complete the project,” she wrote. “Without this assistance we could not develop the units.”

In addition, the redevelopment of the actual Del Monte warehouse is to include an additional 24 affordable units for moderate-income residents. The housing authority will be responsible for verifying residents’ eligibility and monitoring affordability.

The Del Monte project has been controversial with neighbors since details were first presented a year ago at a community meeting. While some have become supporters, particularly after changes were made to the parking arrangements, others continue voice their opposition.

Jay Ingram, who can see the Del Monte building from his Pacific Avenue home’s kitchen window, wrote a letter in the hopes the council will slow the process down, give more consideration to the project’s design and require more visualizations from the developer. He said the senior housing development’s modern design does not fit the neighborhood and called it “a wart on the side” of the warehouse.

“I’m not opposed to development, but the design looks hideous,” he said. “I wish that they would incorporate the senior housing in the (warehouse) and not make it look like an appendage on the outside.”

The design, which was approved by the Planning Board in May, includes 14 units for low-income seniors and 17 units for very low-income seniors. All but three would be one-bedroom, 537-square-foot apartments. Plans also include a 2,400-square-foot courtyard, community room, laundry facilities, 29 parking spaces and 23 bicycle lockers.

While the affordable housing agreement allows for the senior housing to be developed as for-sale or rental units, Cooper said the latter is a more realistic and preferable option.

Should the council approve, the housing authority will make details about the application process publicly available at least six months prior to the project’s completion.

The council's public meeting begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, in council chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue. The meeting will be broadcast live on Comcast cable channel 15 and AT&T cable channel 99 and webcast live on the city's website.

Related: The Alamedan's Del Monte stories


Mpomeroy's picture
Submitted by Mpomeroy on Mon, Jul 20, 2015

It would have been nice to show a picture of what it will look like instead of what is there now.