More than 20 years after shutting its doors, the historic Linda Vista Community Hospital has been given new life in Los Angeles.

AMCAL Multi-Housing and the East Los Angeles Community Corp. (ELACC) have carefully rehabilitated the derelict building into a 120-unit development for low-income seniors.

“The building had been sitting vacant when there’s a tremendous need for housing,” says Percival Vaz, CEO of AMCAL. “We were interested in doing something useful with it while still preserving the historic nature.”

Located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood, the area has about 47,000 senior households that earn less than $35,000 per year, with many spending more than half of their income on housing, according to AMCAL. The Linda Vista development helps ease that pressure, serving seniors earning 30% to 60% of the area median income. In addition, 25% of the units are reserved for Housing for Health households, a Los Angeles County Department of Health Services program that provides housing opportunities coupled with supportive services to homeless, high utilizers of the health-care system.

To make Linda Vista a reality, the development team restored and adapted a building constructed in 1905 as the Santa Fe Coast Lines Hospital to serve the needs of railroad employees and their families. The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, later served as a community hospital before ceasing operation in 1991.

Steeped in atmosphere and character, the building was subsequently used in the filming of many movies and television programs, including Pearl Harbor. It also became a popular spot for trespassers. Although age and hard use caused the building to fall into disrepair, the development team still recognized its huge potential. The hospital’s attractive architecture and good location remained, making it a strong candidate to be adapted into housing.

The project, collectively known as Linda Vista, involved two stages—phase one involved the rehabilitation of a modestly sized nurses’ dormitory into 23 apartments, and phase two incorporated the rehabilitation of a complex, six-story main hospital building into 97 apartments. The latter phase is expected to achieve LEED Gold certification.

Historic patient rooms were redesigned as apartments. Treatment areas and other parts of the hospital proved challenging but have been converted into a game room, a library, and other uses. In one move, the developers removed a portion of the roof in the middle of a rear wing to create a three-story atrium. Each floor maintains its own character with different furniture styles, artwork themes, and color schemes.

The $47.7 million development was financed with historic tax credits as well as 9% and 4% low-income housing tax credits. Union Bank was the tax credit investor. Linda Vista also utilized Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds.

In addition to providing needed housing for the elderly, Linda Vista has helped improve the entire neighborhood by rehabilitating a decaying building. The new development includes two large community spaces that are available to residents and the surrounding neighborhood for events. AMCAL and ELACC also purchased six vacant lots within one block of the property that are in the process of being developed into single-family affordable housing.