Springs Project may get $750K grant

The Springs Project, an affordable housing mixed-use complex proposed next to the Sonoma Charter School on Highway 12, took another step closer to becoming a reality.

MidPen, the developer of the 60-unit family complex, recently received a recommendation for a $750,000 grant from the county’s Community Development Commission. The county’s board of supervisors, acting as the CDC’s board, will have the ultimate say when the matter comes before it in November.

The CDC had $1.5 million in affordable housing funds for the coming year, and it had five projects vying for the money, but applications for two of the projects were withdrawn, leaving three in the running. The CDC ultimately recommended that $1.5 million be divided equally between MidPen and a Burbank Housing project in the Roseland area of Santa Rosa.

John Haig, the CDC’s capital programs manager, said both MidPen and Burbank will receive $750,000.

“The Burbank Crossroads project has been in the process for about 10 years,” he said. “And the CDC has been looking at the site in the Springs (for affordable housing) for quite a while.”

Scott Johnson, the MidPen project manager, said they’re “very pleased by the decision.”

MidPen had asked for $1 million, but the tentative grant allows it to move forward with the project.

“All three of the projects were very worthwhile,” Johnson said. “All are facing the dynamic of needing public funding.”

The $750,000 combined with $433,000 in federal funds that are pending, gives MidPen $1.18 million for property acquisition for the project.

MidPen has numerous hoops to jump through before it can even put a shovel in the ground. If all goes according to plan, Johnson estimated it could be 2015 before ground is broken for the project.

A proposed 40-unit senior affordable housing complex that was penciled in after the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center withdrew from the site, will become a separate project.

Johnson estimated the 60-unit family complex, with one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, will cost between $20 million and $21 million to complete.

The $1.18 million won’t quite cover the land acquisition costs but Johnson is confident the remaining money can be found.

He said that with the property funding in hand, MidPen can then go to the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (CTCAC), which administers two low-income housing tax credit programs – a federal program and a state program. Both programs were authorized to encourage private investment in affordable rental housing for households meeting certain income requirements.

The committee meets twice a year, in March and again in July.

Johnson said MidPen is shooting for the July 2014 allotment. “If we apply in July, the CTCAC awards in September,” he said. “But you have to be ready to go. You’ve got 180 days to pull building permits.”

Based on that timetable, it’ll be sometime in 2015 before ground is broken. But by that time, the Highway 12 project with sidewalks, streetlights and left-turn lanes should be close to completion.

MidPen faced a dilemma before the county supervisors decided to fund the Highway 12 project, because some of what it planned counted on Highway 12 being complete.

The entire project, when finished, will contain a 60-unit family complex, a 40-unit senior complex, a community garden and a commercial building that the Vailetti Family Trust will develop. Marco Vailetti told the Springs Community Alliance a few months ago that he’d like to develop it as possibly a pharmacy or a credit union. Vailetti told the group he has been approached by 7-Eleven, but he doesn’t want a 7-Eleven in the space. He said he’d like to see a credit union step forward since there are no financial institutions at that end of the Springs. And he said he’s seeking feedback on what sort of tenants could occupy the 6,540-square-foot space.