Foster City will be narrowing in Thursday night on a plan to develop 66 affordable senior housing units if the Planning Commission approves the nonprofit MidPen Housing Corporation’s use permit and environmental impact report for its portion of the Foster Square site.
The city sold off its remainder of the long-vacant 15-acre site near City Hall last November to the blanket developer the New Home Company for $30 million with the condition that a senior housing complex would be constructed.
The site will be distributed piecemeal to different developers and eventually turned into 200 for-sale condos, about 134 to 155 assisted living units, 66 affordable senior housing units, retail space and parking structure at the site adjacent to City Hall.
At the time of the sale, the EIR for the General Plan was approved. The Planning Commission has since determined that the specifics for MidPen’s proposal are consistent with the original EIR and do not require further review, said Community Development Director Curtis Banks. MidPen will now begin the process of securing financing.
The City Council urged MidPen’s development to take precedence and undergo an expeditious planning process to ensure it’s able to apply for federal assistance by the March deadline, said Assistant City Manager Steve Toler.
“That’s kind of how that whole [project] is lined up in the development agreement. The council decided it was such a vital component … that basically everything in that project is in the timelines of when affordable housing starts. Once the affordable housing starts, then the rest of the development will start,” Toler said.
Providing affordable housing to the city’s aging population is essential in a town where a one-bedroom apartment runs an astonishing $2,500 per month, Toler said.
“This component of the entire project that’s going to be a senior focused community, these 66 units that MidPen is going to build, is very vital to our city. … It is a good public social policy to provide affordable housing units,” Toler said.
The Association of Bay Area Governments sets guidelines for the number of affordable housing units each city is responsible for providing. Foster City’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation is for 430 units by 2022. The ability for Foster City to uphold their obligation became increasingly difficult after Gov. Jerry Brown dispersed the state’s various redevelopment agencies and the city has since been left to look elsewhere for financial assistance.
“Despite the fact that the state of California took millions of dollars from Foster City that would have been used to provide affordable housing, we have continued to look at creative ways to meet our affordable housing obligations,” Mayor Charles Bronitsky wrote in an email.
MidPen is headquartered in Foster City and thrilled that the council has shown dedication to supporting both the aging and income-restricted population, said MidPen President Matt Franklin.
“[MidPen is] based in Foster City so we’re particularly proud of what the city’s doing here which is that they really stuck to their stated policy commitment to provide and encourage the development of housing that’s affordable for people who live in Foster City,” Franklin said.
Once the environmental impact report is approved, MidPen will undergo an extensive financing endeavor that depends upon three main sources. Foster City will be contributing a $4.75 million loan to be repaid over 55 years. Contingent on approval of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, the county will likely contribute about $2.75 million sourced from the state’s dispersing of redevelopment agency funds, Toler said.
MidPen will apply for a competitive federal tax credit program in March to fund the bulk of its project, Toler said.
As a large Bay Area affordable housing developer, the company is extremely experienced in navigating the application process, Franklin said.
“We’re very familiar with the [federal tax credit] program and we’re confident that this is a winning application. The city and the county both have really stepped forward and made significant contributions to the financing,” Franklin said.
If approved, it will secure funding in June and is required to start construction by the end of the year, Franklin said. The project is estimated to take between 16 and 18 months. It will begin to take rental applications six or seven months prior to opening. Affordable housing opportunities are typically oversubscribed and interested parties will likely be chosen through a lottery, Franklin said.
Future residents could qualify if their income is 30 percent to 50 percent of the area median income and can expect to pay about $545 to $941 for a one-bedroom apartment, according to MidPen officials.
To the legally allowable extent, the council and MidPen have decided to give priority to Foster City residents.
“There’s a lot of folks who’ve lived and worked in Foster City and San Mateo County their whole lives and of course many seniors make transitions in their living environments as they reach their elder years. I think a really important goal for the city is to make sure they have a place [seniors] can afford,” Franklin said. “Without the provisions of these types of units, you run a great risk that these folks will be priced out of the area.”
For more information about the MidPen Housing Corporation visit www.midpen-housing.org.
For updates on the development of the Foster Square site visit www.fostercity.org.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106