OAKLAND, CALIF.—Jasmine Hudson, a 21-year-old who attends college and works at the YMCA, is among the first residents at the new Ironhorse at Central Station development.
“I wanted a place that was peaceful and clean,” she said at the grand opening for the affordable housing development. “I feel safe here.”
Developed by nonprofit BRIDGE Housing, Ironhorse delivers 99 apartments for families earning up to 50 percent of the area median income or, in other words, those with annual incomes between $18,000 and $50,000.
Twenty of the apartments are set aside for those with the lowest incomes through rent subsidies from the Oakland Housing Authority.
The development is also important because it’s part of a large redevelopment effort to reclaim about 29 acres of abandoned industrial land in West Oakland.
“It’s a great addition to the entire Central Station development,” said City Councilwoman Nancy J. Nadel, explaining that affordable rental homes are an important option in the community.
Plans call for the overall redevelopment to have about 1,200 new homes, including market-rate townhomes. BRIDGE is also involved in plans to redevelop a nearby train station that was the final stop for many transcontinental journeys. The station was damaged in the big 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and has been empty since.
Green all over
In many ways, particularly in its green building features, Ironhorse sets the bar for the area.
Designed by David Baker + Partners in San Francisco, a firm that has worked on a number of stylish affordable housing projects, the development is rich in its sustainable design and products.
Solar panels on the roof supply nearly all of the electricity to power the common areas. They also pre-heat the domestic hot water.
Portions of the roof are also planted with vegetation to create green roofs that provide insulation from both heat and sound.
The rain that falls on the roof drains to two vegetated swales, which naturally filter the rainwater into the water table.
In addition, all of the outdoor furniture, benches, and seat walls are made of composite lumber that comes from recycled materials. Kitchen and bathroom cabinet boxes are also made of recycled content.
Ironhorse received a GreenPoint rating that was nearly three times the score needed to qualify for the certification program.
California has adopted mandatory green building requirements that take effect next year, noted Lynn Jacobs, director of the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), which provided about $8 million in permanent financing for the project.
Those new requirements sound a lot like a BRIDGE project, she said.
Like most affordable housing developments, the $41.5 million Ironhorse uses multiple funding sources.
In addition to HCD, the financing partners include U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp., which provided $16.6 million in low-income housing tax credit equity.
The deal also involved a private-placement tax-exempt bond deal with a nearly $30 million construction loan and a $4.9 million term mortgage from Union Bank.
Other financing partners are Wachovia Mortgage, the Redevelopment Agency of the city of Oakland, the Oakland Housing Authority, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.