The nonprofit developer, Eden Housing, is seeking to replace office buildings with a four-story apartment building at 1100 La Avenida St., with an eye toward housing the homeless and very low-income families. The largest portion of the units, 34 in total, will be set aside for permanent supportive housing for the homeless, with county support services available on-site for the tenants.
The remaining units will be available to families making well below the Area Median Income (AMI), which is currently $131,400 for a family of four. Thirty-three of the units would be available for families making up to 30% of the AMI, with 19 units and 14 units for households earning up to 50% and 60% of the AMI, respectively.
Eden originally bought the 1-acre property intending to create a more family-oriented housing project focused on two- and three-bedroom apartments, said Susie Criscimagna, Eden's director of real estate development. But after talking with city staff, Criscimagna said it was clear that the vision for North Bayshore favored studios and one-bedroom apartments tailored for Mountain View workers to improve the jobs-housing balance.
The mix of units is also exactly the kind of project that Measure A, passed in 2016, was designed to fund, said Wayne Chen, the city's assistant community development director. The money is largely earmarked for extremely low-income families and people who are either homeless or recently housed, and maximizing the investment with mostly studios and one-bedroom apartments.
The La Avenida Apartments project is among one of seven projects in the "fifth cohort" of projects to receive Measure A funding, totaling more than $400 million in funding committed from the $950 million bond. Even with the latest batch of projects, it remains the only one north of Santa Clara.
Asked about the dearth of North County projects, county Supervisor Joe Simitian said part of the reason is that not every community is enthusiastic about building the apartments that Measure A was intended to create: very low-income households and permanent supportive housing for the homeless.
"On the one hand I've got people asking, 'Can we get some fair share of the funding?,' and on the other hand folks having, frankly, mixed views about whether they want to accommodate housing in that particular community," Simitian said. "I'm proud that Mountain View wants to step up."
In a statement shortly after the vote, Simitian praised the project for making progress in the county's mission to house needy residents struggling to live in the area.
"We're focused on the most vulnerable residents of our County — folks who face a particularly difficult challenge in high-cost cities in my district," he said.
Financing affordable housing projects takes numerous sources, including loans, tax credits and funding from multiple public agencies. In addition to the $19 million from the county, Eden is requesting an additional $15 million from the city of Mountain View, which will be decided by the council later this year.
The total cost of the project is expected to be just over $78 million, which includes the $12.2 million to buy the land. That breaks down to about $765,000 per unit — roughly equivalent to other affordable housing projects and not far from the cost of market-rate units in the area, said Linda Mandolini, president of Eden Housing. She said the high price is the result of a highly constrained labor market, prevailing wage requirements and high design standards.
Though the land was bought at more than $12 million an acre, Mandolini said she counts Eden lucky for picking up the property when it was up for sale, before redevelopment in North Bayshore rapidly escalates the cost of property in the area.
"Buying land in Mountain View or anywhere in the North County area in Santa Clara is extremely competitive and very challenging, so we are quite fortunate to get the property," she said.
As the project progresses, Eden will be working with county staff to provide ongoing services including case management for the tenants in the apartment. Criscimagna said she expects that three full-time staff members will be on-site to assist residents once the project is complete.
Though North Bayshore has been rezoned to allow up to 9,850 new homes, much of the ambitious development has yet to formally come before the City Council. In 2018, the council approved the first of the projects, a 635-unit apartment complex on Pear Avenue, potentially making the La Avenida Apartments project the second.
Many of the residential services envisioned for North Bayshore are still to come, meaning the proposed apartment project will be far from amenities like grocery stores, at least initially. Chen said the city is exploring ways to ensure the project is linked to transit and health services until North Bayshore is redeveloped into an urban center.
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