Cathedral Gardens melds old and new buildings to provide much needed affordable housing in Oakland, Calif.

One of its three buildings is a former rectory that was built in 1916 to house staff of the Saint Francis de Sales Cathedral. The cathedral suffered extensive damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and was demolished in 1993. The development’s name serves as a way to acknowledge the history of the site. 

Developer EAH Housing has rehabilitated the rectory and built two new buildings to provide 99 affordable housing units for families earning no more than 60% of the area median income (AMI), and one manager’s unit, in the city’s Uptown neighborhood. Seven apartments are in the rectory.

EAH was able to meet multiple levels of public service in one project.

“The historic preservation aspect is meaningful,” says Mary Murtagh, executive director. “We’re serving two purposes. It’s a permanent improvement to that neighborhood, and it’s doing it in a way that helps low-income people who are being displaced from the area.”

Featuring one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, Cathedral Gardens is in a prime spot across the street from the county social services building and a Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic and close to elderly care and health-service programs. In an arrangement with the city, EAH has committed to use $550,000 in deferred developer fees to fund resident services over the first 10 years.

EAH Housing anticipates the project, which has a photovoltaic system to help power the common areas and water-efficient features, will receive LEED Platinum certification.

The $40.5 million development is financed with 4% low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) equity from syndicator Merritt Community Capital. The team also utilized energy rebates.

The developers originally planned to finance Cathedral Gardens with 9% housing credits but returned the award after determining the deal worked better as a 4% LIHTC project, a move that benefited Cathedral Gardens in the long run, says Matt Steinle, vice president of real estate development.

Forty units are reserved for households earning no more than 30% of the AMI, 20 units are at 50% of the AMI, and 39 units are at 60% of the AMI. Forty-three units have project-based Sec. 8 vouchers.

Project Details

Developer: EAH Housing
Architect: Chris Lamen + Associates
Major Funders: Merritt Community Capital; Chase Community Development Banking; city of Oakland; Oakland Housing Authority; Alameda County; California Housing Finance Agency; California Tax Credit Allocation Committee; California Debt Limit Allocation Committee; Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco