MidPen looks for input at Wednesday open house

The developer who is putting together a mixed-use 100-unit affordable housing project just south of the Sonoma Charter School on Highway 12, will host an open house for area residents Wednesday evening at the charter school.

MidPen Housing, of Foster City, is proposing to build a 60-unit affordable family housing complex, and a 40-unit affordable senior complex, on land that will include a large community garden, a portion of the Central Sonoma Valley Trail, an expanded playground and a 6,500-square-foot commercial unit along Sonoma Highway.

Scott Johnson, MidPen’s senior project manager, said there will be a presentation to start Wednesday’s open house and after that there will be tables set up around the multi-purpose room with information about various aspects of the project.

MidPen has already received a $750,000 commitment from the county for the family complex. Johnson is also working on getting another $433,000 HUD (Housing and Urban Development) grant through the county. And the nonprofit has applied for another $500,000 for the coming fiscal year.

“We’re thinking outside the box,” Johnson said. “Because the Central Sonoma Valley Trail is part of the project, the county is waiving impact fees.”

And he said the county is fast tracking the project’s land-use applications so that 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 – in time for the July allocation. Both programs were authorized to encourage private investment in affordable rental housing for households meeting certain income requirements.

“We sell the tax credits to investors who use it as a benefit,” Johnson said. “That’s been the main engine to produce affordable housing projects for the past 30 years.”

If MidPen can get the necessary tax credits in July, it could break ground in March 2015. The family complex would be constructed first.

Originally, MidPen was going to partner with the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center, but when the health center pulled out last year, MidPen redid the proposal and will construct the senior complex and the community garden in the space the health center would have used.

The Vailetti Family Trust, which owns the land, will be constructing the 6,500-square-foot commercial part. At a Springs Community Alliance meeting last year, Marco Vailetti said he was open to suggestions for what kind of business would occupy the commercial development, but added he hoped it would be a type of business the Springs lacked, such as a credit union. He said he had been approached by a convenience-store concern, but he didn’t want that sort of business in the space.

Vailetti and his design team will also be at Wednesday’s open house.

Johnson is hoping for a good turnout and plenty of questions. “We’re looking to incorporate suggestions into the budget,” he added.

The cost of the project is estimated to be around $35 million, with the family complex projected at around $22 million and the senior housing penciled in at an estimated $13 million.

The open house will run from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Sonoma Charter School, 17202 Sonoma Highway.