Oakland, Calif. — Citizens Housing Corp. (CHC) has saved The Altenheim here in the Fruitvale area from dereliction. The nonprofit housing developer is restoring it as affordable seniors housing and a cultural activity center for The Altenheim Association.

The six-acre site began as a retirement home built in 1893 by settlers from German-speaking countries. “Altenheim” is German for “home for the elderly.” The Altenheim Association closed an outdated assisted-living facility there in 2002 and partnered with CHC to redevelop the site, now known as The Altenheim Senior Housing.

CHC will replace the small rooms of the original building with 93 new studio and one-bedroom units with private bathrooms and kitchens. These units will be affordable to seniors earning between 25% and 50% of the area median income.

The campus and grounds will also be refurbished to create more than 10,000 square feet of gardens, gyms, libraries, lounges and other space for supportive services and programs.

The Excelsior Building there will be used exclusively by The Altenheim Association for its German Saturday language school, board meetings and small cultural events.

In a second phase, CHC will build 81 more units of seniors housing. Construction is expected to begin in early 2007.

“By breathing new life into this wonderful historic structure, we will provide not only more affordable housing for our seniors but also more activity and energy to the surrounding neighborhoods,” said City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, who helped lead the planning process.

The $25.7 million first phase will be financed using equity from the sale of $14.3 million in low-income housing tax credits and $4 million in federal historic preservation tax credits. Additional funds include $6 million from the city of Oakland and a $650,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLBank) of San Francisco’s Affordable Housing Program.

Permanent financing for the second phase will likely include tax-exempt bonds with 4% tax credits, funds through the state’s Prop. 46 multifamily housing program, and financing from the city of Oakland and FHLBank of San Francisco, according to CHC.

CHC formed two nonprofit affiliates, CHC Property Management Corp. and Power Up! Economic Development Corp., to manage the property and coordinate on-site programs and services.

CHC was recognized recently by Affordable Housing Finance readers for its Folsom/Dore Apartments development in San Francisco, which was named best special-needs project (see Affordable Housing Finance, November 2005, page 42).

The nonprofit will hold four additional groundbreakings this year: The 40-unit Haight Street Senior Housing, the 110-unit 990 Polk Street and the 150-unit Alabama Street Apartments in San Francisco; and the 50-unit The Fireside Apartments in Marin County.