New apartments coming downtown

City Council recently approved the architectural and site plan for San Ysidro Court—a 263-unit affordable housing complex that will be located on the southwest corner of 10th and Alexander streets in the downtown expansion district. According to a represe

A five-story apartment complex and the tallest building in the Garlic Capital—proposed to be 58 feet tall—is coming to downtown as soon as summer of 2016. The 263-unit affordable housing complex, developed by Idaho-based multifamily housing group Pacific Companies, is scheduled for construction on the southwest corner of 10th and Alexander streets.
The 6.8-acre development will rejuvenate a site that’s sat blighted and vacant for several years and fill a demand for units open to households with low income, according to Tammy Brownlow, president and CEO of the Gilroy Economic Development Corporation.
“It’s a much needed project in Gilroy. It’s been a long time coming,” she said. “The addition of this development would have a positive impact on the retail and the restaurant uses in the general area.”
“We desperately need housing for all the people in our community—not just the high-earners,” added Jan Bernstein-Chargin, board chair for the Gilroy Compassion Center, a nonprofit that provides daytime outreach services to those in need.
The City Council approved the architectural and site plan for the project dubbed San Ysidro Courts in a 4-2 vote Aug. 18. Council Members Dion Bracco and Cat Tucker dissented. Architects with the firm are preparing working drawings to submit to the City and hope to obtain building permits in the next seven months, explained Pacific Companies Business Developer Bill Spann.
“We probably won’t start construction until late spring or early summer of 2015,” Spann said, adding that he expects construction to take a year. “It’s been a long process but the City has been cooperative and responsive. I think it’s a wonderful thing for Gilroy and especially the downtown expansion district.”
Phase one will see the construction of 145 apartments and the first floor, which includes 2,700 square feet of community meeting space and 2,500 square feet of retail space. The final phase will entail completion of the remaining 118 apartments. As stipulated by the Council, the Pacific Companies can use no more than 15 percent of the community space as an office for leasing and management.
Ninety percent of the units—236 of 263—must be affordable to households with low income and 10 percent—26 units—must be reserved for households with very low income. All apartments must remain affordable based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s standards for at least 30 years, the development agreement states.
Pacific Companies has built 135 properties over the past 20 years in San Jose, Watsonville, Salinas and others—some with more than 390 units—and the company manages them all, Spann said.
“We really hold a tight rein to the operations, especially when it comes to tenant selection,” he said, explaining that credit and income checks, rental history and a criminal background check will be a part of the application process. “We want to make sure the tenants who live there are going to take care of the property.”
The company plans on having on-site management, both for tenants and to oversee the parking system for residents and customers to the first-floor retail businesses. There will be roughly 1.7 parking spaces per unit and 460 parking spaces are proposed in total. Of all the parking spaces, 78 must be covered and 88 spaces will be set aside for tandem use. The parking lots will not be visible from the street, as a condition of City approval.
Two Gilroy residents spoke during the public comment period and expressed concern with the amount of traffic and congestion the addition of hundreds of vehicles could add downtown. Spann assured that the company will assign parking and each registered vehicle will receive a sticker to minimize parking impacts.
“We have a very strict parking plan and we’re going to manage it that way,” he said, adding that repeated violation of the parking rules could be grounds for eviction.
Mayor Don Gage called the project “valuable” and stressed to the representatives of the developer that he wants them to follow through on certain conditions—from having on-site management for residents and parking 24 hours a day to requiring tenants have common areas and open space.
“I want to ensure we manage these apartment complexes for 30 years to provide the kind of consistency we want in this community,” Gage said. “As long as we’re focusing on that, I’m okay with this. We need to raise our standards in this community—not lower them.”
As it is now, individuals and families with low income don’t have many options in Gilroy or South County when it comes to finding affordable housing, according to Bernstein-Chargin.
“There are families that literally spend years on waiting lists to get into the few affordable housing complexes that do exist,” she said, expressing support for the development at the council meeting. “They spend that time staying in motels, vehicles, RVs and moving around. Those children would be much better served by stable homes and stable apartments.”

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