LOS ANGELES—Blighted industrial buildings in an old warehouse district here were razed to make room for the first new development here in a decade. The fact that most of the 534 homes being built are affordable housing units makes the project even sweeter.
The Avenue 26 Master Plan, developed by AMCAL Multi-Housing, Inc., opened its first two phases, the 121-unit Tesoro del Valle family apartments and the 102-unit Camino al Oro seniors apartments, in the first quarter of 2006. The other two phases, the 146-unit Flores del Valle family apartments and the 165-unit, mixed-use Puerta del Sol condominiums, are scheduled to open in December 2006.
“It was an industrial site with graffiti and crime,” said Percival Vaz, president. “The project is an opportunity to revitalize the entire community.”
Low-income families in Los Angeles often “double-up” by living with relatives and friends in overcrowded housing, or they live in substandard converted garages or attics, said Jay Ross, senior development associate. “These new housing units will add quality housing to a neighborhood that needs it.”
Bordered by 26th Avenue, the development site is within three miles of downtown and provides a quick and easy commute via a new Gold Line light-rail system station. “Long commutes [from here] are not necessary,” said Ross.
The apartments are reserved for families earning incomes topping out at anywhere between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). Puerta del Sol, which includes two retail suites for newsstands and coffee shops, will sell its condos to buyers earning between 80 percent and 120 percent of AMI.
The Los Angeles Housing Department will provide downpayment and other assistance for qualified condo buyers.
In addition to a Head Start early childhood development program, the site will provide free services such as English classes, computer classes, tutoring and mentoring, health and wellness services, personal finance and credit counseling, home-buying workshops, and arts, culture, and outdoor activities. The development will also include a food bank and legal aid and health-clinic services.
Financing for the apartments included a total of $35.8 million in low-income housing tax credits, as well as $7.1 million in tax-exempt bonds for Flores del Valle. The primary investor for the tax credits was SunAmerica Affordable Housing Partners. Other partners included California Bank & Trust, the California Community Reinvestment Corp., and Wells Fargo Bank.
The affordable apartments were designed by Van Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh. The architect for the condos was Meeks + Partners.
The condos were financed by a $6 million equity investment by the Genesis Workforce Housing Fund. It is considered the first for-sale workforce housing project financed by institutional capital. AMCAL could have made the entire project rental apartments but decided to include workforce condos to diversify the neighborhood, according to Vaz.
Councilman Ed Reyes was integral to securing the zoning approval and getting the project off the ground, said Vaz. Reyes has a planning background and favors transit-oriented developments.