A Partnership That Benefits Young, Old : * Deal Between School District, Developer Will Create Much-Needed Funds, Housing
It takes more money to run the public schools than state and local districts seem to have to do the job right. And it takes lots of money, considering the high price of buying Orange County acreage, to provide the affordable housing that is in such critically short supply.
Attacking either problem is a major task, so it would seem highly improbable that both issues could be addressed in the same project. But the Centralia School District appears to have found a way.
In a unique approach, the school district has added a new wrinkle to redevelopment by going into a partnership of sorts with a private developer. It plans to raze a closed, 60-year-old school and to build a new school on the site, while allowing some land to be leased for the construction of apartments for senior citizens. The plan is so practical, the surprise is not that it is being attempted, but that it hasn’t been used extensively before now.
The school district is leasing three acres of the 13-acre school site in west Anaheim to ARV Affordable Housing Inc. of Costa Mesa for 40 years. The developer will build 135 low-income housing units for senior citizens, paying the school district an annual rent, plus 5% of the gross rent revenue. As a bonus, because the land remains under school ownership and thus is exempt from property taxes, the company will also give the district half of the yearly property tax it saves.
The district will build a new school for 600 students on the remaining 10 acres (with money from the sale of surplus school property) and use the annual lease income to help cover the new school’s operating costs.
When completed in 1993, the students will have their new school, the seniors new homes that they can afford, and the builder and school district will have steady income from the property. And the joint use is considered so compatible that the district even expects some of the seniors will become school volunteers, visiting the classrooms to assist teachers and read to students.
The school board has approved the joint project. So has the city of Anaheim. Construction is scheduled to start next spring after the developer completes financing arrangements. The approach in Anaheim is expected to be a model for many more similar projects. Let’s hope so.
Given the state of public finance in California and the shortage of school funds and affordable housing, we need more public-private partnerships and creative financing that is so good for young and old alike.