Affordable housing projects in Turlock and Modesto taking names

The Modesto Bee

By Marijke Rowland | March 7, 2013

Modesto, CA — The first wait list has been set and leasing should begin shortly for the new affordable housing complex Avena Bella in Turlock as construction continues on a similar complex in Modesto.

Since its leasing office opened in October, developer EAH Housing’s 80-unit Turlock project has had more than 650 people sign the interest list for apartments. A lottery was held Thursday to create the wait list as the leasing process moves forward.

“For every unit available at Avena Bella, there are eight people who expressed interest. There’s a great need for affordable housing in Turlock and the Central Valley and we expect continued interest even after the last unit is occupied,” said Dianna Ingle, EAH Housing vice president of real estate management.

Avena Bella, on Linwood Avenue across from Cunningham Elementary School, broke ground a year ago and is slated to complete construction on the first 40 units at the end of June and the remaining 40 units in August.

The complex features two- and three-bedroom apartments, with lease depending on income and ranging from $457 to $736 for two-bedroom units and $536 to $858 for three-bedroom units.

EAH also is developing the 76-unit Archway Commons on Carver Road in Modesto, which is slated to complete construction by the end of October. Apartments will rent for $532 for one bedroom, $470 to $600 for two bedrooms and $539 to $800 for three bedrooms.

Leasing process leads construction

Construction on both projects has been delayed by weather and other factors, pushing the opening dates back a few months each from original estimates. Avena Bella is about 50 percent finished and Archway Commons is 37 percent done.

But leasing is going forward on both. Now that the initial wait list has been set for Avena Bella, letters will be sent to prospective renters to go through the interview process. To qualify for either complex, applicants must meet federal and state affordable housing income standards. They also must undergo credit and criminal background checks.

Archway Commons still is in the interest list phase. People can sign up to receive news and application information, and more than 200 have done so.

City of Turlock Housing & Economic Development Manager Maryn Pitt attended Avena Bella’s lottery drawing, which was done via a computer program, on Thursday. The city has been working with EAH on the project, which will be the largest all-affordable housing project complex in Turlock to date.

Of the 650 people on the interest list, 135 filled out applications in the time allotted and were placed on the wait list via the lottery. Pitt said the high interest reflects the demand in the community for affordable housing.

“We know there won’t be any openings when it opens,” Pitt said. “We always would like to do more. It’s just a matter of partnering with the right people. EAH managed more than 9,000 affordable housing units and they know what they’re doing.”

The city and EAH are moving forward with the second phase of Avena Bella, which would add 61 units to the complex, despite a recent roadblock in funding. Pitt said the city had $1 million left in its low- and moderate-housing fund when the redevelopment agency disbanded more than a year ago. It had planned to use that money for Avena Bella’s second phase. But in December the California Department of Financing said the city had to redistribute the money to the county’s Auditor Controller Office.

City could help fund second phase

Pitt said the city still hopes to be able to contribute up to $4 million to help fund the second phase and will continue to apply for funding from the state through the redevelopment agency’s successor. The $19 million project was one of the last funded by the redevelopment agency before state budget cuts ended the program.

If funding comes through, EAH would begin construction on Avena Bella’s second phase in 2016.

On the leasing front, the initial applications were sent and accepted earlier this month. The wait list will reopen in two weeks and people will be able to submit applications then. Depending on how the interview process goes with the first wait list, the process could begin again and another lottery could be held.

There is no date for the application process to begin in Modesto’s Archway Commons. Potential renters must place their names on an interest list to be updated.

Susan Dutton, director of communications for EAH, said both complexes will be highly desirable dwellings. Turlock’s has attained Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification for sustainable design. The Mediterranean-themed complex sits on 4.3 acres and features a pool, community garden, community center and patio.

“Both of them are going to be such an addition to their communities,” Dutton said. “We’re excited. It’s going to be a star for us. They’re being made to not only fit to the community and people living there, but to also be an impressive addition to the neighborhood at large.”