All of Marina Heights low-income homes are already occupied.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Although bulldozers are still grading dirt on the site of Marina Heights on the former Fort Ord, all of the project’s low-income housing is already built.
The only catch is that it’s completely occupied.
East of the Marina Heights project site off Imjin Parkway lies Abrams, townhome-style units originally built by the US Army for military families. A chain-link fence may separate Abrams and Marina Heights, but the two sites are integrally linked.
One hundred and thirty six of the Abrams units will eventually be rented to low- and very low-income families to meet the Marina Redevelopment Agency’s affordable housing obligations for the 1,050-unit project. Another 51 affordable units will come from Preston Park, which is just northeast of Abrams.
Right now, 20 percent of the homes in both Abrams and Preston Park are rented at below market rate.
Over the next three years, the City expects natural turnover to occur, and as market-rate renters leave, low- and very low-income families will replace them.
“Everyone can still stay there,” says Debby Platt, who works in the city’s Strategic Development Center. “No one is losing their units. They can stay there as long as they want.”
This is not exactly true. Since Marina Heights is in a redevelopment area, by law 15 percent of homes have to go to very low-, low-, and moderate-income people, says Haywood Norton, project manager for Marina Heights. This mandate will be met by using units in Abrams and Preston Park.
By the time the last home is built in Marina Heights—now slated for completion in 2011—186 of the units in Abrams and Preston Park need to be rented at affordable rates, Norton says.
The City plans to phase in the affordable rentals with the development of new homes in Marina Heights, he says.
Abram’s market-rate units, which rent for $1,075 a month for two bedrooms, have a two-year waiting list because of their relatively inexpensive price and spacious quarters—972 square feet with a garage and a backyard or balcony. The developer, Cypress Marina Heights, has agreed to sell another 210 homes below market rate when it was only required to do so for 62 units, Norton says.
“It’s not perfect, but it’s beyond what is required,” he says.
All of the units for low- and very low-income families will be rentals using the old Army housing. Families living in Abram or Preston Park will end up with larger units and more open space than typical apartment or condominiums complexes, Norton says.
And while the below-market rate homes will be integrated within Marina Heights, the affordable homes will be off site. “I think I would have preferred having all of it integrated into the development and built new,” says Mayor Ila Mettee-McCutchon. The deal was negotiated in closed session with two former council members, Mettee-McCutchon says.