- Posted May 19, 2013 by
San Diego, California
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San Diego Affordable Apartment Celebrates Opening
For many years there were rotting bungalows along Florida Street in the North Park section of San Diego, California. Until the site was acquired for public housing, the slum housing resulted in drugs, other crime and code enforcement issues.
Funding was finally achieved from the San Diego Housing Commission, the former San Diego Redevelopment Agency [now defunct], bonds and equity from Union Bank, and rebates for "green" upgrades. The old structures were torn down in 2010.
Nonprofit organization Community HousingWorks acquired the property and broke ground for construction in the summer of 2011.
Local dignitaries, project participants, media and other guests gathered May 17 to officially celebrate the completion of what was named Kalos Apartments. Kalos is a Greek word meaning "noble and good," according to Community HousingWorks.
The event included a buffet lunch plus tours of the building's common areas and three typical apartments. The organization's CEO, Susan Reynolds, told the guests that “we always find the ways to help the neediest, and North Park believes that's important also.” Originally budgeted at $31 million, the project ended up costing $28 million.
California Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins helped launch the project while a member of the San Diego City Council. “People in North Park come together to make the community special,” said Atkins. “It's been wonderful to be a part of that dream.”
San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria extolled the beauty of Kalos, saying “We don't do ugly in District 3.” Gloria spoke of future projects: “Civic San Diego is how we will get this done going forward," he said. "They did magic in downtown; they have the ability to do it now in our former redevelopment areas.”
Civic San Diego is the successor agency to the former Redevelopment Agency, and operated as Centre City Development Corporation. Civic San Diego President Jeff Graham was also impressed by the new building. "It's beautiful on the outside; comfortable and functional on the inside," Graham said. "It's such a happy environment. I'd like to get on the waiting list myself," he joked.
There are 83 units: 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments for single, family and senior households. But the new facility barely puts a dent in the extreme need for affordable housing in San Diego. The city has some of the highest housing costs in California.
Applications for apartments at Kalos started way before completion. Community HousingWorks Senior Project Manager Sylvia Martinez said there were about 3,000 people on a waiting list to rent at Kalos.
The one-acre site of Kalos had been originally approved for 72 luxury condominiums, but that project fizzled. Community HousingWorks then applied to undertake the affordable apartment project.
Community HousingWorks also recently purchased an additional property in North Park, formerly owned by AT&T. The site has a large building used by the old Pacific Bell company, and a nearby parking lot.
That property is also slated for affordable housing. But Council President Gloria said funding for these developments is now more difficult.