Northstar

The Northstar Courts, an affordable 71-unit complex proposed for Hanford, received a key sign-off this week allowing for the project to remain viable.

published on August 19, 2022 - 2:33 PM
Written by Edward Smith

A signature from Hanford’s city manager on the first affordable housing project for the city in years means an official recognition. 

The Northstar Courts would bring 71 affordable units of one-, two- and three-bedroom units to the Kings County town. One unit would be dedicated to the property manager.

Under the California Density Bonus Law, housing developers can get incentives and concessions on their projects if they dedicate themselves to certain percentages of affordability. In the case of Northstar Courts, developed by UPholdings, LLC and Self-Help Enterprises, 100% of the units are affordable, with various caps on median income, according to Jessica Hoff Berzac, co-owner and principal with UPholdings.

For the Northstar Courts project, they received leniency on the amount of parking required on their project so long as the project remains affordable for the next 55 years.

The vote Tuesday authorized City Manager Mario Cifuentez to sign off on the project.

Developers hope to break ground by the end of the year, Hoff Berzac said. Construction costs on the ground-up complex are estimated to be between $24 million to $25 million.

Zoned for neighborhood mixed-use on a vacant 2.76-acre lot, the project’s developers are still working to close the deal, Hoff Berzac said. Construction is scheduled to take 18 months.

South Valley news organization Valley Voice reported that in February, shortly after the project was announced, more than 700 people attended a town hall meeting about the project. Police had even shown up to keep order, Mark Pratter reported.

Opposition was raised to the location of the affordable housing community — and that there was little public participation in the project, according to opponents.

Due to the current zoning, the development is by-right, which precludes it from many requirements regarding public comment periods, Hoff Berzac said. Agreements regarding loans and federal and state grants keep the project from being able to relocate.

A letter from the State of California Department of Housing and Community Development in April urged Hanford officials “to take actions consistent with state law, including its Housing Element commitments, to ensure the continued viability of the Project.”

California law mandates a certain level of housing density zoned into local governments’ housing elements.

Hoff Berzac said opposition to the project has died down. She said they were equally flooded with people who said they were desperate for housing.

“That’s really what’s critical, right?” Hoff Berzac said, “is those voices of support. Every week we get people asking to apply to live there and we haven’t even broken ground.”


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