For the first time in history, the long-vacant 15-acre site in Foster City is months away from being developed after MidPen Housing earned enough funds to move forward with construction of an affordable senior housing complex.
The Foster City-based nonprofit housing developer was awarded federal tax credits to the tune of almost $15.7 million on June 11, which will allow it to move forward with developing 66 affordable senior housing units at the Foster Square site adjacent to City Hall.
The City Council sold its remaining piece of undeveloped property, that was once slate to host a high school, for $30 million to the blanket developer the New Home Company last November with the condition that an affordable senior housing complex would be constructed first.
“This is an incredible opportunity for MidPen to provide affordable housing for seniors in our hometown and we’ve been working really closely with the master developer, with the Planning Commission and with city staff to come up with a project concept that’s going to reflect the needs of the people who live in Foster City,” MidPen Senior Project Manager Nevada Merriman said.
The entire site will be distributed to different developers and eventually turned into 200 for-sale condos, about 134 to 155 assisted living units, MidPen’s 66 affordable units, retail space and a parking structure.
MidPen expects to begin construction in early December of this year and open around late spring of 2016, Merriman said.
Per the council’s agreement to sell the land, the entire project hinged on MidPen securing $25 million to construct its portion first, followed by the assisted living units before the remainder could be constructed, Merriman said.
On top of the tax credits, MidPen was also awarded $2.75 million from the county for Foster City’s portion of former redevelopment agency funds and project-based section 8 vouchers dispersed by the county’s housing department, Merriman said. Foster City will also be contributing a $4.75 million loan to be repaid over 55 years.
Seniors who are 62 or older and in the low- to very low-income bracket could qualify and those who live or work in Foster City would be given priority, Merriman said. The one-bedroom units are anticipated to range from about $584 to $1,000 a month, Merriman said.
MidPen’s project will also help fulfill Foster City’s obligation to provide a certain amount of housing.
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. Fulfilling these obligations became increasing difficult for cities after Gov. Jerry Brown dispersed the state’s various redevelopment agencies.
Foster City and Half Moon Bay are the only two cities ahead of their RHNA obligations, Councilman Art Kiesel said.
Kiesel said he expects the next time allocations are issued, Foster City will continue to fulfill its requirement. However, with the population continuing to grow, Kiesel said he worries if they’ll be able to provide sufficient affordable housing in the next 15 years.
Mayor Charlie Bronitsky said the entire project will have a lot to offer and it’s exciting to see it progressing, Bronitsky said.
“It allows us to grow and add new families as those living in the single-family homes move into the senior housing. Up to now, we have mostly had group homes for seniors but, with this new project, we will have a first-class facility for all with the need or desire, including those who need affordable alternatives,” Bronitsky wrote in an email.
Councilman Gary Pollard agreed it’s great to see action on the site.
“It’s moving in the right direction so it’s very positive to see the fences up, to see tractors in there getting work done. It’s such a relief to know that we’re moving forward with it,” Pollard said.
Merriman said they already have an interested list but they should be opening a formal application list sometime in late 2015. She said they expect to receive hundreds of applicants, which speaks to the ever-present need for affordable housing.
“Forty years ago, [MidPen was] formed in response to the high cost of living on the Peninsula and we still find it’s an issue that has endured its relevance,” Merriman said. “We continue to see that the jobs-housing imbalance is exacerbated by this strong economy. There’s a lot more jobs and it puts an incredible amount of pressure on the low supply.”
For more information about the Foster Square project visit www.fostercity.org. For more information about MidPen visit www.midpen-housing.org.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106