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$24.8 million grant helps pay for apartments in Modesto, plus bike paths and ACE rail

$24.8 million grant helps pay for apartments in Modesto, plus bike paths and ACE rail

The Modesto Bee
By John Holland | July 05, 2020

A $24.8 million state grant will help build 74 low-income apartments in Modesto while also promoting alternatives to driving.

About $14.3 milllion will go toward the second and final phase of Archway Commons, which opened with 76 units at Carver Road and North Ninth Street in 2013.

The other $10 million will pay for bicycle, rail and bus upgrades that serve the state program’s goal of reducing the climate-changing effects of automobile use. They include:

  • High-quality bicycle paths on about 1.5 miles of Ninth Street between Archway Commons and the planned downtown depot for the Altamont Corridor Express.
  • A new passenger car for general use by ACE. The system has carried commuters between Stockton and San Jose since 1998. A southern extension that includes Modesto could have its first train as soon as 2022.
  • Improvements in Modesto Area Express bus service to Archway Commons and nearby areas.
  • Three years of city bus passes for residents of the complex’s second phase.

The city got word in late June that the grant had been approved. Modesto partnered on the application with EAH Housing, the nonprofit organization that build the first phase of Archway Commons.

The City Council agreed in January to take part on the condition that the bicycle paths not interfere with access to two longtime Ninth Street businesses – Modesto Junk Co. and American Lumber. The design was tweaked to allay their concerns.

FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE

The grant is from the state’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program. It seeks not only to house people, but to help them get around in ways that don’t stress the planet too much. The program is funded by fees on emitters of carbon dioxide and other climate-changing gases.

Ninth Street already has bicycle paths between Tully Road and the Briggsmore-Carpenter interchange on Highway 99, separated from motor vehicles by berms. The grant will extend this route to L Street downtown and add landscaping throughout.

The city has until the end of July 2025 to complete the bicycle and transit improvements, but a specific timeline has not yet been set, spokesman Thomas Reeves said.

WAITING LIST FOR APARTMENTS

Rents at the second phase of Archway Commons will be capped at 30 percent of the household’s income, said Michael Schaier, project manager at EAH’s office in San Rafael.

It expects to have a waiting list for this phase, just as it does with the first.

“The number of families on the wait list for Archway Commons is significant and illustrates the need for more affordable housing in the city of Modesto,” Schaier said.

AIMING FOR FALL 2022 COMPLETION

EAH expects to start construction in spring 2021 and finish in fall 2022. Like the first phase, these apartments will be in several two-story buildings. The complex also has a swimming pool, picnic area, children’s tot lot, community room, computer learning center and other amenities.

This phase has a total cost of $30.7 million. The financing also includes federal HOME funds, reduced fees for the project’s impact on local services, and investors who get federal tax credits for funding affordable housing.

EAH also built the Avena Bella apartments in southwest Turlock. An expansion from 80 to 140 units is under construction.

The state program’s latest round of funding includes dense housing close to passenger rail stations in Oakland, Los Angeles and a few other cities.

Modesto aims to do the same someday around its ACE depot, a key element of the downtown master plan now in the works. The document also envisions other bike lanes in the core.

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