75 affordable apartments, commercial hub in Santa Rosa’s Roseland to break ground after receiving lifeline

The funding gap for the Tierra de Rosas project in Santa Rosa has narrowed from $18 million to about $5 million in less than a month, and a groundbreaking date has finally been set.|

A “game changing” development in Santa Rosa’s Roseland neighborhood is finally on the brink of breaking ground after an infusion of capital this week from the state helped rescue the project from potential jeopardy.

A total of $3 million was allocated from the state’s budget to fund two large-scale projects in Santa Rosa, including Tierra de Rosas, a development on Sebastopol Road that plans to create a vital neighborhood hub on 7.4 acres of property where a shopping center once stood. The project is set to receive $2 million.

The other project, Casa Roseland, is contained within the Tierra de Rosas development and will bring 75 affordable apartments online. It’s set to receive $1 million.

The Casa Roseland apartments will have 24 one-bedroom apartments, 30 two-bedroom apartments and 20 three-bedroom apartments with a manager’s suite. Families or individuals making no greater than 60% of the area median income can qualify to live in these apartments.

Michelle Whitman, executive director of the Sonoma County Community Development Commission, said Wednesday the funding from the state budget helps close a major funding gap in breaking ground on the development, which was at risk of being sent back to the drawing board earlier this year.

With the gap now sitting around $5 million — down from $18 million just one month ago — construction on the backbone infrastructure for Tierra de Rosas is expected to break ground by the end of 2023, and the same will follow for the apartments in late 2024.

“This is an extremely aspirational project that the Sonoma County Community Development Commission has been working on for a number of years,” Whitman said.

“We’re finally getting ready to get the infrastructure in place so that vertical construction can start on the different components of the overall project.”

The development is a partnership between MidPen Housing and the Sonoma County Community Development Commission. It represents, she said, a large undertaking by the county over nearly the past decade.

Sean Hamlin, district director for Sonoma County Supervisor Chris Coursey, said the money received from the state’s budget pushed the project from being “on life support” to being closer “to discharge.”

“We have a vision to support a community that’s in need,” he said. “Roseland has a lot to offer, both culturally and physically, and we’re working to make that a reality through a project like this.”

Hamlin said he thinks of this project as creating the downtown of southwest Santa Rosa, and that Coursey has been committed to seeing it come to fruition.

Money received from the state budget is a “significant milestone” in the commitment to “support housing in one of the most historically underserved communities in Sonoma County,” Coursey said in a statement to The Press Democrat.

“The combined investment brings us closer to breaking ground on this long-promised project and demonstrates our collective dedication to supporting the resiliency of our county and its residents.”

The project’s funding gap was narrowed after the county passed its annual budget June 16, which approved just under $8 million for the development — with Coursey making another $2 million available in district-specific, discretionary infrastructure funds.

The state’s $3 million further closed the gap.

Whitman added that the project has also been recommended for a $1.55 million grant from Ag+Open Space, and her team is working with the city of Santa Rosa to lower costs by at least another $1 million through “scoping, value engineering and project phasing.”

These additional funding sources would bring the gap down closer to $2.45 million.

“We’re really making great progress of closing this funding gap,” she said. “We’re in the homestretch.”

You can reach Staff Writer Sara Edwards at 707-521-5487 or sara.edwards@pressdemocrat. com. On Twitter @sedwards380.

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