Developer: MidPen Housing Corp.

Architect: Jon Worden Architects

Major Funders: Google; Union Bank; Silicon Valley Bank; California Tax Credit Allocation Committee; California Housing Finance Agency; California Department of Housing and Community Development; city of Sunnyvale; Santa Clara County Mental Health Department; Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara

Fair Oaks Plaza provides 124 affordable apartments for low-income seniors next to a new county health clinic. It's an ideal location that was made possible when developer MidPen Housing Corp. and local authorities imagined a better use for the medical facility's sprawling parking lot. MidPen built a new four-story garage, freeing up land to create affordable homes in one of the nation's most expensive housing markets.

“It's a great example of smart growth,” says President Matt Franklin. “It's an intensification of use, but it is the right place to do it.”

The $35.3 million development places its senior residents near public transit, a senior center, services, and the adjacent Santa Clara County clinic. Eighteen apartments are supportive-housing units occupied by recipients of state mental health subsidies, and all the units have been designed to be fully adaptable.

A large common space also allows for on-site services and programs.

Fair Oaks Plaza is also notable because it attracted a new low-income housing tax credit investor, Google, to the market at a time when the industry needed fresh capital. Located in Sunnyvale, Calif., the development is just eight miles from Google's headquarters. The company has gone on to invest in other affordable housing projects.

The development has deep income targeting, reaching households earning no more than 25, 30, and 50 percent of the area median income. About 75 percent of the units have project-based Sec. 8 contracts.