As early as next fall, ground at a downtown Redwood City site currently used as a parking lot could be broken to make way for 117 affordable apartments for seniors and a child care facility.
Plans for an affordable senior housing development, ground-floor child care facility and publicly accessible creekside trail at 707 Bradford St. took one step further Monday as the City Council approved an agreement with affordable housing developer MidPen Housing.
Nevada Merriman, MidPen’s director of housing development, said arriving at a development agreement with the city is one of several milestones ahead of the nonprofit as it moves forward with the planning process for the seven-story housing development next to a stretch of Redwood Creek. With experience providing affordable family and senior housing in several other Peninsula cities, including Redwood City, she said the nonprofit is well-positioned to fulfill the city’s goal to provide much-needed housing for seniors, a group she said comprises the fastest-growing population in San Mateo County.
“The need for long-term housing for seniors is huge,” she said.
Situated in Redwood City’s downtown, seniors living at the apartment building will have access to a variety of tailored health resources though they may not need them, said Merriman. She is hopeful that the nonprofit’s partnership with the county’s Health System and other health providers will make the housing development a platform for promoting wellness.
MidPen is committed to renting the units to seniors who are 62 years old or older, with a few exceptions for special circumstances such as older adults raising a grandchild, said Merriman. The nonprofit, which won the city’s bid for the project in April 2016, will also rent at least 49 percent of the units at affordable rates to households whose income is less than 60 percent of the area median income, according to a staff report.
By making space for an 8,000-square-foot child care facility in the building’s ground floor, the nonprofit is fulfilling another one of the goals city officials outlined in the bid, said Merriman. With families dropping off and picking up children for day care and downtown residents and visitors expected to use a publicly accessible path allowing access to the creek, the multi-use nature of the site could foster its own community, she said.
“There are a lot of synergies there that will make for a healthy, thriving community,” she said. “The city’s really positioned the site really well to be able to take advantage of what they already have in place there.”
Karen Haas-Foletta, executive director of Belmont-based Footsteps Child Care, said her nonprofit was chosen to provide child care at the site, which will provide much-needed space for a resource in high demand across the Peninsula.
“There’s a huge need for [child care] facilities, and there’s an especially huge need for infant [care],” she said.
She is planning to make space for 70 children from infant to preschool age in what would be her nonprofit’s 10th location and fourth preschool. Now 23 years old, Footsteps Child Care provides day care for children ranging from infants to middle school students in locations in Belmont and Redwood City.
Haas-Foletta said the intergenerational nature of the building will allow for unique learning opportunities for students as well as staff and volunteer opportunities for interested and qualified seniors.
“Our goal is not just to have a senior come and read a story, but to be really part of the program,” she said.
Haas-Foletta has experience working with MidPen in Redwood City, providing child care for some 24 children at the nonprofit’s City Center Plaza complex offering affordable housing for families with ground-floor retail. She said she is looking forward to working with a child care environment specialist to design the space at 707 Bradford St., but said the region still has a long way to go to meet the need for child care.
“It’s good news, but it’s not going to solve the problem,” she said.
Vice Mayor Ian Bain expressed enthusiasm for MidPen’s efforts to meet several critical needs for the city, and said he hoped the city would have the opportunity to review other creative solutions providing affordable housing in the future. He said when the city designated the parcels between Jefferson Avenue and Main Street for affordable housing and child care years ago, officials had considered how space that opens up in the future could be designated for several other groups, such as veterans, families and nonprofits.
“I anticipate we’ll be doing more projects like this,” he said.
Merriman commended the city for having the foresight to address several critical needs and for the contribution of the land, which MidPen is expected to purchase from the city for $1, according to a staff report. In addition to leveraging federal low-income housing tax credits, Merriman said MidPen has secured funds for the housing development from the county through Measure A, a half-cent sales tax voters extended through Measure K in November, and that the nonprofit hopes to stay competitive for Measure K funds to fund the project.
Merriman said the nonprofit has submitted project plans to the city and hopes they will be reviewed by the Planning Commission before the end of the year. She said MidPen is working toward breaking ground on the housing development in November of 2018 to be able to address the need for affordable housing as quickly as possible.
“It’s a hot topic in the Bay Area,” she said. “We’re very proud to be able to help make a difference.”
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