Santa Rosa apartment project moves forward at former Water Agency site
An abandoned government office complex is finally set to make way for affordable housing on West College Avenue in Santa Rosa, where a $60 million apartment project is advancing after years of development setbacks.
Roseville-based USA Properties Fund wants to secure approval by the end of the year to build College Creek Apartments at 2150 W. College Ave., the vacant former offices of the Sonoma County Water Agency. Each of the 164 units, from one to three bedrooms, would be for low-income residents.
If all goes according to the development plan, construction would begin as early as October 2021 and would be complete in January 2023. USA Properties Fund cleared a key planning hurdle last week at the city’s Design Review Board. The approval came more than a year after the board offered extensive feedback on an earlier version of the project’s design.
“We feel that we have addressed the concerns and have brought forward a project that you will be welcoming, and we’re happy to become part of the community,” said Royce Patch, vice president of development for USA Properties Fund, which already owns several Santa Rosa apartment complexes, including the nearby Vintage Zinfandel senior apartments and Terracina at Santa Rosa.
The 7.5-acre College Avenue site is owned by the county’s Community Development Commission, the main affordable housing and homelessness services arm of county government. County officials have since at least 2013 targeted the site for housing, citing its proximity to shopping and a major bus depot. Attempts to sell the property fell short before the county went forward in 2018 with USA Properties Fund.
Under terms at that time, the county would provide a $2 million land donation to USA Properties — representing about half of the commission’s $4.2 million purchase price — as a credit for an equity investment for partial ownership of the development. The commission would maintain a 29% ownership stake, an agreement that could allow it to get $3.3 million in cash flow from operations over the period of 15 years, according to projections put forward in 2018.
Should the commission choose to sell its stake after 15 years, it would be in place to receive up to $10.5 million.
USA Properties Fund is planning to take ownership of the land in October 2021, according to documents the developer submitted to the city. The developer plans to manage the apartments after they’re built, which is standard procedure for the company, Patch said.
The College Creek redevelopment would require demolition of the existing buildings on the site and construction of three new buildings of three or four stories. It also would include the re-striping of West College Avenue to allow for a new two-way turn lane in the area, as well as a new public access to the Santa Rosa Creek Trail, and there would be 272 parking spots provided on the property.
Renderings and site plans of the buildings show a palette of earth tones and a design that’s meant to draw the viewer’s gaze to the sky, with accents at key points, including entrances. The project would include a swimming pool as well as play and barbecue areas.
After little to no progress for years, the project is now on a clearer track to completion than redevelopments on two other county-owned sites in Santa Rosa — both of which are larger and feature more complicated plans.
On Sebastopol Road, Bay Area affordable housing developer MidPen Housing is overseeing the development of 175 apartments, 75 of which would be designated affordable, as well as the construction of a permanent library for the Roseland area.
That project — initially named Roseland Village and since renamed Tierra del Rosas — has been the subject of an ongoing lawsuit from a neighboring property owner. A MidPen spokesperson said the development is still advancing, with construction of affordable housing there slated to start in late 2021 or early 2022.
Across town, a Newport Beach developer is aiming to buy the former Chanate Road hospital campus after several scuttled attempts to develop the property. Developing the 72-acre site will be a much more involved undertaking than the two other projects, and its timeline and the details of the full project are uncertain.
You can reach Staff Writer Will Schmitt at 707-521-5207 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @wsreports.