Jake Lingo, senior vice president of Integrated Community Development, the Woodland Hills-based company developing a proposed 88-unit apartment complex with first-floor office and retail space on the 1500 block of North Blackstone Avenue in Fresno, addresses the Fresno City Council on Thursday. Photo by David Castellon
Written by David Castellon
The Fresno City Council has agreed to appropriate $500,000 in city money as well as provide a $600,000 loan to help get off the ground a project to build an 88-unit, low-income apartment building in the 1500 block of Blackstone Avenue.
But most of the council members who voted Thursday to approve the money indicated they did so begrudgingly, citing the high cost of the $38.3 million project that mostly will be paid for with state grants and fees paid by large businesses.
The city’s investment is needed in order to be able to apply for the additional funds, said Jake Lingo, senior vice president of Integrated Community Development, the Woodland Hills-based company developing the proposed 88-unit apartment complex that would sit atop first-floor office and retail space directly off the 1500 block of North Blackstone Avenue near McKinley Avenue.
Among the planned tenants in the commercial space are a medical and dental clinic, along with a planned city senior center.
But many of the council members balked at the cost, which would come out to more than $400,000 per apartment.
“My first inclination was to say, ‘My, God, what a waste of government money. Can we do it more efficiently?’ But you’ve got to think counter intuitively. It’s a complex deal,” Fresno Mayor Lee Brand said prior to the vote.
He said part of what’s elevating the price of the apartments are the requirements that come with using state dollars, including having to pay workers at prevailing wage levels — higher than wages for private-sector projects — and the “zero net” requirement that the apartments have solar panel arrays so the electricity generated is as much or more than what the tenants use, he said.
Both council members Steve Brandau and Garry Bredefeld expressed concerns about the cost of the apartments, but said the requirements elevating the costs are systemic problems in Sacramento in their programs to fight homelessness, and they didn’t want Fresno to be part of those problems.
Bredefeld went so far as to call the cost of the apartment building “fiscal insanity.”
After more than an hour of debate, the council members voted on whether the grant the $600,000 loan and provide the $500,000 investment for the project.
Brandau and Bredefeld cast the sole no votes, allowing the resolutions to pass.
Read more about the vote in the next edition of The Business Journal.