City Manager's Updates

Monthly updates from El Cerrito City Manager Karen Pinkos.

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Jan 22

Eden Senior Housing Mixed-Use Development Project Update

Posted on January 22, 2014 at 12:14 PM by Suzanne Iarla

With recent Planning Commission (PC) and Design Review Board (DRB) approvals, the Eden Senior Housing Mixed-Use Development at 10848 and 10860 San Pablo Avenue has received its project entitlements. Below please find a summary of the recent PC and DRB meetings as well as project updates regarding the City’s agreements and project financing.

Entitlements: At its December 18 meeting, the Planning Commission unanimously approved the 63 unit senior affordable housing project which includes commercial uses on the ground floors and residential units on the upper floors. The ground floor, along San Pablo Avenue, will include a 1,906 square foot medical clinic, a 1,156 square foot retail/café space and a community room for the project’s residents in the former florist building. Surface parking will be located behind the building and accessed from Kearney Street. The project will provide a 2,215 square foot area with raised gardening beds for its residents.

The project will also feature a 2,710 square foot public Heritage Plaza along San Pablo Avenue, adjacent to the City Hall. Eden Housing worked diligently with members of the El Cerrito Historical Society, Contra Costa Japanese American Citizens League and their consultant, West Office Exhibit Design, to develop an interpretive display depicting the site’s historical and cultural significance. Several interpretive panels at the Heritage Plaza will highlight the history of Japanese immigration to the United States, the Japanese-American nursery community in Contra Costa County, the cut flower industry in California, the forced removal and internment of people of Japanese descent from the West Coast during World War II, the return of those who had been interned to their homes and businesses and the economic changes that lead to the demise of the nursery industry in Contra Costa County.

The Planning Commission certified the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR), adopted a Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program and approved the Conditional Use Permits for the project on December 18, 2013. On January 8, 2014, the Design Review Board held a public hearing and approved the project application. The above decisions of the Planning Commission and DRB were unanimous.

Financing: With entitlements in place, securing project financing is the next big step for the project. The City, as Housing Successor Agency, has previously committed a total of $350,000 to the Eden Senior affordable housing development through a loan agreement. A total of $100,000 of the loan commitment has been disbursed to the project. The outstanding balance of $250,000 is an enforceable obligation of the Successor Agency and has been listed on the Recognized Obligations Schedule for the January through June 2014 period. The State Department of Finance continues to dispute the $250,000 amount as an enforceable obligation.

Eden submitted a December 2013 application for the County HOME/CDBG annual funding cycle. The funding decision for County HOME/CDBG will be announced in February 2014. Eden is pursuing a combination of additional funding sources, including County HOME/CDBG funds, County Housing Authority Project-based Section 8 funds and 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), which are allocated through competitive processes. Eden has not yet been able to secure a commitment from the Contra Costa Housing Authority for an allocation of Project-based Section 8 vouchers (PBS8) and has determined that without a commitment of PBS8 vouchers, the project will not be competitive for tax credits in the March 2014 round. They will continue to pursue a commitment of PBS8 vouchers as well as other appropriate sources of financing and will apply in a future tax credit round. Depending upon the availability of local, State and Federal funds, it is anticipated that it will take from two to three years to assemble the financing needed to construct the project.

Disposition, Development Agreement (DDA): Housing staff and the developer are currently in negotiations for terms of the development agreement and land transfer including the development financing plan, business terms with the Samuel Merritt Clinic, retail terms, and overall timeframe for development. Staff has engaged the services of Keyser Marston to assist in developer negotiations and the preparation of the Summary Report that is required to be prepared pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 33433. Staff will update the City Council as appropriate as real estate negotiations progress. Staff anticipates bringing the DDA to Council for consideration after completion of CEQA and project approvals in Spring 2014.