SVCAC to look at Sonoma Highway mixed-use project

The Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission will take a look at the mixed-use affordable housing project on Sonoma Highway when it meets Wednesday night.

The project, submitted by MidPen Housing, a nonprofit housing developer, and the Vailetti Family Trust, consists of a 60-unit, family-affordable housing complex, a 40-unit, senior-affordable housing complex, a 6,500-square-foot commercial complex, a community garden, a multi-use playground and a public bikeway.

At an open house on Feb. 19, MidPen officials explained that rents, would range from about $360 a month to $890 a month.

“But it would vary depending on household income, number of people in the family and the number of bedrooms,” said Scott Johnson, the senior project manager.

Johnson said the family complex would contain 19 one-bedroom apartments, 22 two-bedroom apartments and 19 three-bedroom units, while most of the senior units would be one-bedroom units.

Jan Lindenthal, MidPen’s vice president for real estate development, said the Foster City-based nonprofit has been around for 43 years and has 90 properties with 7,000-plus units.

“We’re in 10 counties from Monterey to Napa, but this is our first project in Sonoma County,” she said. “We have our own property management company. We build and manage our projects.”

Lindenthal said affordable housing is one of the more pressing issues in the Bay Area.

She said, as part of the property management, MidPen also provides services to its tenants.

“As an example, we might have English-language learning, computer classes and programs for seniors to age in place,” she said.

As senior project manager, Johnson pointed out that the complex will share its playground with the Sonoma Charter School, which abuts the project to the north.

“We’re going to have a large community garden that’ll be about a third of an acre, that’s an important component to a healthy community, an open space easement for the Central Sonoma Valley Trail and a 6,500-square foot commercial development,” he said.

Marco Vailetti, spokesman for the Vailetti Family Trust, said while he is looking for tenants for the commercial space, he envisions part of it as a commercial kitchen, although he’s unclear whether it could be utilized full-time. He also said he is talking with a medical equipment business from Napa, but he remains open to suggestions for other tenants.

The family complex would be three-story units, each with a garage on the bottom floor. And, Johnson said, there will be plenty of parking. The 100-unit complex would contain 169 parking spaces, he explained, with 112 for the family units and 57 for the senior units, and there would be carports in addition to the garages.

“There will be one covered unit per apartment,” he said.

Johnson said the Highway 12 improvement project, which will complete the sidewalk and streetlight installation through the Springs, was the key to his project’s success.

If MidPen meets its deadlines and receives the necessary tax credits in July, the utilities could be installed in the spring of 2015 and the family units, garden and commercial development could start construction in the summer of 2015.

“Because we have separate financing for the family units and the senior units, the senior units wouldn’t break ground until the spring of 2016,” he said. “We have an aggressive schedule – but there are a lot of variables.”

The SVCAC will review the project starting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the Community Meeting Room, 177 First St. W.