Union City’s dignitaries got a sneak peak Tuesday inside what will be the first housing development of its new intermodal station district.
On Tuesday afternoon, developers from the MidPen Housing Corporation held a special groundbreaking ceremony for the second phase of its affordable housing community currently under construction along 11th Street. A majority of the apartments will be ready for renters in October, developers said.
The 157-unit complex will provide “housing that will serve working folk, families who earn $20,000 to $50,000 a year,” said Matthew Franklin, president of MidPen Housing.
Franklin, along with Union City Mayor Mark Green and Housing Authority of Alameda County Executive Director Christine Gouig, made brief remarks before embarking with attendees on a hardhat tour of the new space, which features two housing buildings, retail space and various amenities.
Part of Union City’s new transit-oriented and pedestrian-friendly community centered around the BART station, the MidPen development will be joined by adjacent housing projects, a public plaza and a pedestrian promenade that passes through the BART station.
“We have great potential here,” Mayor Green said. The city’s station district vision is for a transit hub to be created at the BART station that allows people to board and transfer between BART, passenger rail and bus systems.
“This plan is one of the greatest examples of what a city can achieve when it has a vision and a very competent city staff,” Franklin said. He said it was “a shining example of the power and effectiveness a successful redevelopment agency can have.”
Earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown, spurred by reports of mismanaged funds in other California cities, proposed liquidating redevelopment agencies across the state in order to divert agency dollars to cities, counties and schools. State legislators, however, have yet to reach an agreement on the matter. Meanwhile, the City of Union City has since taken a number of actions to save its redevelopment funds to ensure the city’s original plans for the station district remain intact.
“We have no idea what the future holds but we are making sure that funding for affordable housing is preserved because projects like this depend on those funds,” said Joe Kirchofer, project manager for MidPen, after leading a tour of the new units.
MidPen received a mixture of federal, state, local and private funds for the $65 million project, including more than $24 million from JP Morgan Chase in tax credit equity and loans and more than $28 million in land and funding from the Union City Redevelopment Agency, according to a MidPen Housing fact sheet.
During the tour, representatives from MidPen and architecture firm David Baker and Partners showed special guests the housing units currently being constructed. The development features:
- single-bedroom apartments at 587 square feet, with proposed rent starting at $465 a month
- two-bedroom apartments at 890 square feet, starting at $550 a month
- and three-bedroom apartments at 1,033 square feet, starting at $634 a month.
The first building (Phase 1), contains 100 units and a total of 8,600 square feet of retail space. The space can be sectioned off for eight 1,000-square-foot storefronts, but Kirchofer said MidPen won’t construct walls until the space is sold in case some retailers want more room. It will also feature a playground, community center, garden, swimming pool, small fitness center and a computer lab for after-school youth services. Construction began last May and will be completed by October, Kirchofer said.
The second building (Phase 2), which the housing corporation began constructing last month and for which the symbolic groundbreaking was held Tuesday, contains 57 units to be completed next April.
Mayor Mark Green said the project represented “true sustainability.”
According to MidPen associate planner Polo Munoz, solar panels will provide alternative energy and heat water to lessen energy use. Planners also expect a majority of the waste produced to be recyclable.
As Kirchofer finished leading a small group around the under-construction complex, he said that it would soon become a thriving community where people can live, work and play.
“This is going to be the best location in Union City,” Kirchofer said. “People are going to say, ‘That’s where I live.’”