Officials move dirt on a new mixed-use project on Blackstone Avenue in Fresno. Photo by Frank Lopez
Written by Frank Lopez
Councilmember Esmeralda Soria invited local officials, media, college students and members of the community to the groundbreaking of the Blackstone & McKinley Transit Oriented Development near Fresno City College this morning.
Supported by the California Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities programs, and with funds from California Climate Investments, the project will bring 88 affordable housing units, a medical clinic and dedicated senior center.
Integrated Community Development, a Woodland Hills based company that is developing the housing, and the nonprofit Corporation for Better Housing, have partnered for the development and are both deferring $3 million into project by waving developer fees to invest into the project.
The total cost of the project is $38.3 million. The building will be LEED Gold certified and have a zero net energy building certification.
The groundbreaking was commenced with a prayer led by Lead Pastor Ryan Kenny of the Midtown Vineyard Church before main speakers including Soria, Mayor Lee Brand, and Chief Executive Officer of Clinica Sierra Vista Brian O. Harris.
Integrated Community Development first came to Fresno in 2015 to start talks about creating affordable housing in the area. Jake Lingo, senior vice president of Integrated Community Development, said that with help from former Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and later on from Brand made the project come to fruition.
“Brand continued that vision and continued to work with us to get this entitled and find the financing to make this happen because, as we know, finding the dollars and bringing those to the San Joaquin Valley is not always the easiest task,” Lingo said.
There will also be more than $3.5 million in state funds invested into offsite infrastructure to close sidewalk gaps, install new streetlights and construct over 2 miles for a bicycle track that will connect the area near Fresno City College to the Fresno’s downtown area.
“This is the right place and the right time for this project,” Soria said. “This project is expected to have a profound positive impact on the community for years to come. The underemployed and our working poor will benefit.”
Soria said the project will provide 400 construction jobs and 1/3 of the total dollars invested will be directly infused into local businesses.
There was also a securement of $800,000 through efforts from Soria, the city council and the Mayor’s office to build a quiet zone in the area and bring safety upgrades for the nearby train track.
Demolition of old buildings at the site was also started today. Completion of the project is slated for around May 2021.