Gabriel Dillard

published on December 14, 2021 - 10:52 AM
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Fresno is directing more development firepower into mixed-use projects, blending commercial and residential uses. But is Fresno ready for mixed-income housing development?

In other parts of the country, the housing crisis is inspiring novel solutions to the affordability crunch. In Edina, Minnesota, a 200-unit project reviewed by the planning commission last month includes 200 housing units, of which 17 are townhome-style units for sale and the rest market-rate rentals.

The “pro forma makes it achievable” to build affordable homes for sale at the site, the project architect told the business publication Business and Commerce.

Another project, “The Courthouse Lofts” in Worcester, Massachusetts, was completed last month. A 176-year-old courthouse was converted to 118 units that will “provide homes for people with a wide range of incomes, including extremely low-income, low-income, moderate-income, and residents who can afford market rents,” according to the publication Affordable Housing Finance.

That $57 million development has low-income housing and historic tax credit financing in the mix.

The California Housing Finance Agency has a Mixed-Income Program that provides long-term, subordinate financing for new multifamily construction that restrict units at a mix between 30% and 120% of area median income. The program was part of SB 2 signed into law in 2017.

As of the end of October, 26 projects across the state had been approved for mixed-income financing. The Fancher Creek Senior Apartments at Tulare and Argyle avenues in Fresno is the sole project in our area. It will be a three-story community for those aged 62 and over. Of the 180 total units, 178 will be restricted between 50% and 70% area median income, according to a state staff report. In terms of permanent financing, Fancher Creek Senior Apartments will have a total development cost of $32.4 million, or $179,865 per unit.

The state’s mixed-income financing portion of that cost is $4.5 million.

The estimated construction completion is May 2022. The apartments will be known as Brand Haven, named after former Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, reported ABC 30.

We’ve reported extensively on multi-family housing development in the area. What we have learned, at least when it comes to Fresno, is that only high-end apartments pencil out for investors. Perhaps more mixed-income development could sharpen the pencil a bit more.

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