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Santa Monica’s Newest Affordable Housing Complex Takes Concrete Step  
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Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

May 3, 2017 -- Compared to the 900,000 square feet in apartment/mixed use projects that might one day be its neighbors, the building in progress at 1626 Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica is tiny.

But the size of “The Arroyo” is far outweighed by its significance, housing advocates say.

At about 55,700 square feet, the five-story building will be the biggest 100 percent affordable housing project constructed in Santa Monica in three years and helps the City deliver on an affordable housing mandate it often fails to meet ("Construction of Affordable Housing in Santa Monica Expected to Drop Again," February 7, 2017).

Rendering of 1626 Lincoln Boulevard
Proposed project at 1626 Lincoln Boulevard (Rendering courtesy of DK Broadway LLC)

“The Arroyo represents a successful collaboration of private, non-profit and community stakeholders, and a meaningful addition to Santa Monica’s affordable housing stock,” said officials of the Community Corporation of Santa Monica, the nonprofit that will manage the complex.

Ground-breaking ceremonies were held last week. Construction should be finished in 16 to 18 months.

All 64 of the Arroyo’s units will be restricted to lower-income earners, with 29 one-bedroom units, 18 two-bedroom and 17 three-bedroom units.

Rents range from as little as $397 for a one-bedroom unit to $1,225 for a three bedroom.

The median rent in Santa Monica is $1,583 a month, according to census figures. Nearly 50 percent of renters are considered rent “overburdened.”

All but one unit at the Arroyo (for the manager) will be reserved for income-qualified tenants, Community Corp officials said.

To qualify for a one-bedroom unit, annual earnings must range from $18,240 for one person, or 30 percent of average median income (AMI), to $30,400, or 60 percent. The range for three-bedroom units is $26,040 to $52,080 for a family of four.

In the case of The Arroyo, the City isn’t paying the tab.

The bill is being footed by private developers, who agreed to finance and build the Arroyo as off-site affordable housing in return for City approval of a sister apartment project of about 300,000 square feet at 500 Broadway. It will be seven stories.

The private developer provided the land (valued at $16.4 million) and supplemental financing. The rest of the financing for the $44 million project came from a construction loan and low-income housing tax credits.

Progress on The Arroyo is coming at a time when the issue of affordable housing is resonating more than ever, in Santa Monica and elsewhere in Southern California.

When the state of California dissolved local redevelopment agencies in 2011-2012, it set off a scramble for new money to finance affordable housing.

Voters in Santa Monica approved laws in 1990 requiring 30 percent of all multifamily housing completed in each fiscal year be affordable to, and occupied by, low- and moderate-income households.

At least one-half is to be reserved just for low-income earners.

For the past 22 years, almost two-thirds of all affordable housing had been tied to redevelopment money.

This November, Santa Monica voters adopted a measure hiking the sales tax, with half of the total $16 million meant to be used for affordable housing ("Santa Monica Hoping Election Cleared Way for Affordable Housing," November 9, 2016).

At this point, however, nearly all affordable units proposed and awaiting action in the City’s development pipeline are in larger, market-rate apartment complexes.

Aside from the Arroyo, the biggest concentrations of low-income housing are in two mixed-use hotel projects also downtown.

The proposed 12-story “Plaza at Santa Monica” -- 357,000 square feet at 4th/5th and Arizona -- includes 48 affordable units.

The Miramar Hotel renovation, a proposed 568,940-square-foot project that was to include 40 affordable units, plus 120 condominiums, was withdrawn for redesign.

In all, proposals that include about 1,645 apartments are awaiting action in the City’s 3.8-million square foot development pipeline, of which an estimated 254 are to be dedicated as affordable.


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