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Luxury homes break ground at Mill District development in Healdsburg

Construction is underway on 43 luxury apartments and condos in Healdsburg's Mill District, a $500 million residential and commercial development that is reshaping the main gateway to the city’s downtown.

The new homes, ranging in price from about $1 million to $8.5 million, are set to be completed within about two years. Around half have already been sold, according to the project’s Vancouver-based developer Replay Destinations.

“After years of design and approvals, we are now moving trailers and heavy equipment on site and preparing for construction,” said David Hill, managing director of the development, in a statement. “In the next few weeks, we will start the excavation for the underground parking for our first residences, and once they get started, Mill District is going to rise quickly.”

The entire 9.6-acre Mill District complex, which is set to include over 200 homes as well as restaurants, retail shops and a hotel, is expected to be finished by 2028.

Around the start of 2021, work began on the utilities, public streets and sidewalks to make way for the project at the historic lumber yard site along Healdsburg Avenue.

Last summer, construction crews at the site broke ground on 41 low-income rental apartments. At least half of those one-, two- and three-bedroom units will be made available to renters earning below 50% of Sonoma County’s annual median income — $59,400 for a family of four and about $41,600 for an individual.

Eight of the apartments will be set aside for those making below 30% of the annual median income, or $35,650 for a family of four and $25,000 for an individual. Renters interested in those units can now apply online or by contacting the Sonoma County Housing Authority by July 1.

The nonprofit developer Hayward-based Eden Housing is in charge of accepting applications for the rest of the low-income units as they become available.

Construction of all the affordable units is expected to be completed by later this year.

Healdsburg officials have touted the coming affordable housing for expanding workforce housing in one of the North Bay’s most expensive markets.

“Studies show a mix of incomes in different areas, including affordable housing units, makes for a more healthy community, instead of clustering certain incomes in a certain area,” Stephen Sotomayor, Healdsburg’s housing administrator, told The Press Democrat in 2020.

According to a recent report by the California Housing Partnership, Sonoma County renters need to make at least $37 an hour — more than twice the minimum wage in Healdsburg — to comfortably afford an average monthly rent of $1,934.

The median single-family home price in Healdsburg was just over $1 million in May, according to data from local Compass real estate agent Jim Michaelsen.

Additionally at the Mill District, 128 homes — a mix of market-rate condos for sale and middle-income units for rent — will be built over the next few years to comply with the city’s growth management ordinance.

The final component of the project is a 53-room luxury hotel in a pair of two-to-four story buildings, with 15,000 square feet of commercial retail space occupying the ground floors.

The hotel will include a restaurant, as well as a pool and fitness center that will be shared with Mill District residents. Room rates are expected to be $500 to $800 a night, comparable to Hotel Healdsburg just a couple of blocks away.

You can reach Staff Writer Ethan Varian at ethan.varian@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5412. On Twitter @ethanvarian

Ethan Varian

Housing and homelessness, The Press Democrat 

I've lived in California for most of my life, and it's hard for me to remember when the state hasn't been in a housing crisis. Here in Sonoma County, sharply rising housing costs and increasing homelessness are reshaping what was long considered the Bay Area’s “affordable” region. As The Press Democrat’s housing and homelessness reporter, I aim to cover how officials, advocates, developers and residents are reacting to and experiencing the ongoing crisis.

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