A mixed-use development with 40 affordable apartments for families is one of the latest developments to help revitalize downtown Perris, Calif.

AMCAL Multi-Housing's Verano in Perris, Calif., has been certified LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Martin Fine AMCAL Multi-Housing's Verano in Perris, Calif., has been certified LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Developed by Agoura Hills, Calif.–AMCAL Multi-Housing and nonprofit partner La Palmas Foundation, Verano also features an on-site Head Start preschool operated by the Riverside County Office of Education as well as retail space.

“Verano has really helped residents not just in the project but in the surrounding community,” says Arjun Nagarkatti, president of AMCAL. “Perris is an older city; in a sense it has given a new face to the city.”

AMCAL previously developed Mercado, a 60-unit affordable housing development for families adjacent to the Verano. Both projects are part of Perris’ Downtown Specific Plan and are leveraging additional public investments and helping with the city’s ongoing revitalization.

The convenient location of both developments provides residents with access to transportation, a park, schools, a market, and other retail within a half-mile.

Completed in fall 2015, Verano serves households earning between 30% and 60% of the area median income, with rents ranging from $398 to $955.

“There’s a tremendous need for affordable housing there,” says Nagarkatti. “We didn’t have any problem with lease-up.”

Residents can take advantage of classes and activities provided by nonprofit partner LifeSTEPS. Services include English as a Second Language classes and after-school homework help for children.

The development also pushes the envelope on sustainability. Nagarkatti says the firm tries to push energy-efficiency standards and cut down on utility costs for all its developments, and Verano is no exception. “It costs a little more initially, but in the long term it helps our residents tremendously.”

It received LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council and exceeds California’s Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Buildings by 17.5%.

To help reduce residents’ utility costs, the development features Energy Star–rated appliances and solar thermal water heating. Xeriscape landscaping and a managed irrigation system were installed to reduce water usage, in addition to low-flow water toilets, faucets, and showerheads.

AMCAL also focuses on indoor air quality, utilizing interior paint with no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as well as the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label low-VOC carpets, pads, and adhesives. In addition, a high-albedo roof was installed to reduce the heat island effect, and 50% of construction waste was diverted from landfills.

The $13.6 million development was financed with low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) allocated by the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee. Union Bank provided the LIHTC equity and a construction loan. Verano also received a permanent loan from the California Community Reinvestment Corp. and a loan from the Perris Housing Authority.