Designed by HKIT Architects, the 79-unit Miraflores Senior Apartments is part of a broader effort to transform a 14-acre site in Richmond, Calif., into a diverse mix of housing and community amenities.
HKIT Architects Designed by HKIT Architects, the 79-unit Miraflores Senior Apartments is part of a broader effort to transform a 14-acre site in Richmond, Calif., into a diverse mix of housing and community amenities.

Partners Eden Housing, Community Housing Development Corp. (CHDC), and the city of Richmond, Calif., persevered to bring the long-awaited Miraflores Senior Apartments to the finish line.

Nearly 20 years in the making, the 79-unit community for seniors 62 and older was fully occupied in August.

“There were very difficult issues that we had to overcome in order to develop the site,” says Woody Karp, senior construction project developer at Eden Housing.

The 14-acre site was once owned by three Japanese families that operated flower nurseries on the site for over 100 years. When the nurseries closed, the city acquired the site with a vision of a diverse mix of housing stock, including affordable and market-rate units. However, the team had to overcome the elimination of the state’s redevelopment agencies, the economic downturn, the loss of the original market-rate developer, and years of remediation work from the pesticides used at the nurseries.

Without a market-rate developer, Eden and CHDC still moved forward on the affordable housing component, utilizing a 1.5-acre parcel on the site.

“As our population continues to get older, there is a high demand for senior housing,” says Joanna Griffith, assistant director of real estate development at CHDC.

The team worked closely with the Richmond Housing Authority, which awarded project-based vouchers for all of the units, on outreach in the community. In addition to a manager’s unit, 16 units are at 30% of the area median income (AMI), 23 at 40% of the AMI, and 40 at 45% of the AMI.

“We really were committed to serving the extremely low-income here,” adds Karp.

The $39.7 million development was one of the first to receive California Department of Housing and Community Development’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program funding, which is part of the state’s innovative “cap-and-trade” carbon emissions auction program. As part of the award, the team built a linear park to serve both residents and the surrounding community and a pedestrian and bike path that connects the community to the Richmond Greenway and a nearby commercial district. It also received funding to provide each apartment with one transit pass for free local bus service for the first three years.

The city of Richmond donated the land for $1, remediated the site, and provided a loan. Additional financing included low-income housing tax credit equity from Wells Fargo, a permanent mortgage through California Community Reinvestment Corp., a Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco Affordable Housing Program grant through member Wells Fargo, and a loan from the Successor Agency to the Richmond Redevelopment Agency.

The building is certified GreenPoint Rated Gold and features solar panels on the roof, which is generating approximately 80% of the common area electrical usage, and solar thermal panels that preheat water and reduce the amount of gas usage for residents.

In addition, it includes a computer lab with high-speed internet, free Wi-Fi in the community spaces, a fitness room with exercise equipment specifically designed for seniors, and raised garden beds.

“One thing we find at senior properties is residents love to garden, and we really promote that,” adds Karp. “We have raised beds that are fully ADA accessible so a person in a wheelchair can work and garden there.”

A market-rate developer is now working on 190 for-sale townhouses over flats, with 160 of the units at market-rate and 30 units at below-market. It also will renovate one of the homes that was on the site, which will be owned and managed by the parks department as a community resource and will pay tribute to the rich heritage of the site, including the contributions of the Japanese flower industry and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

“The homeownership units are in the process of being developed,” adds Griffith. “It’s going to really impact this area by adding more affordable and homeownership housing.”