Oakland, Calif. – Mandela Gateway offers housing and easy access to transportation for low-income residents of struggling west Oakland, near where the Cypress Freeway collapsed during the devastating 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

BRIDGE Housing Corp. knew that Mandela Gateway wasn’t just about creating housing. The 168-unit transit village was also about “creating a sense of place” that hadn’t existed in a while, said President and CEO Carol Galante.

The $52 million project replaces a former 46-unit public housing development and a blighted industrial lot. It would have been fine to do a small housing project that took the place of the aging public housing, but the development team wanted to do more.

Assembling the land to create a more meaningful project was one of the big challenges. BRIDGE Housing negotiated and eventually acquired additional parcels, including a California Department of Transportation park-and-ride lot.

As a result, Mandela Gateway stretches across two blocks and serves as an economic spark for the area. The project, which opened at the end of 2004, has 21,000 square feet of retail space in addition to the affordable housing units. The retailers at the site include several local businesses, a Subway sandwich shop and a coffeehouse. Officials are hoping to bring in additional businesses as the neighborhood gets re-established. Pedestrian traffic has already increased in the area, according to Galante.

The apartments, which are fully occupied, are targeted for families earning no more than 60% of the area median income. Rents range from about $590 to $1,100 per month for the one- to four-bedroom apartments. There are 46 public housing units at the project.

Designed by Michael Willis Architects, the development is located across the street from a Bay Area Rapid Transit station, which provides residents with easy access to San Francisco and other cities. The proximity to public transportation helps families to find employment throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Funding for the project included $29.8 million in low-income housing tax credit equity. The credits were allocated by the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee and syndicated by Related Capital.

Other financing included approximately $10 million in federal HOPE VI funds to the Oakland Housing Authority, which also provided $3.2 million in local funds to the project. The development also received a $2.2 million permanent loan from the California Housing Finance Agency. The city of Oakland provided $1 million in HOME funds and a $2.5 million redevelopment fund loan. The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco gave a $1 million grant through its member World Savings.

Financing also came from Fannie Mae, which provided a predevelopment loan, and Wells Fargo Bank, the construction lender.

The development is near the area’s Mandela Parkway project that aims to improve the area road system and serve as a gateway to the rest of Oakland. Both projects are named after Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela, who provided a signed resolution when the housing project opened.

Mandela Gateway

Developer: BRIDGE Housing Corp.

Total units: 168

Affordable units: 168, including 46 public housing units.

Unique feature: The transit village is just steps from a Bay Area Rapid Transit station and aims to revitalize the west Oakland neighborhood.

Key sources of financing

Equity from 9% low-income housing tax credits provided by Related Capital: $29.8 million

HOPE VI grant: $10 million

California Housing Finance Agency, permanent loan: $3.9 million

Oakland Housing Authority, local funds, loan: $3.3 million

City of Oakland, HOME funds: $2.5 million

City of Oakland, redevelopment fund loan: $1 million

Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, Affordable Housing Program grant through World Savings: $1 million

California Housing Finance Agency, soft loan: $900,000

Deferred developer fee: $300,000

Fannie Mae, predeveloment loan: $250,000

Total development cost: $52 million