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City kicks off affordable housing project

Officials this week broke ground on a new affordable housing development that will feature 20 one- and two-bedroom apartments.

The Catalina Development will be the first all-new residential project for the nonprofit Burbank Housing Corp.

The nonprofit typically rehabs existing buildings to use for low-income housing, but the property on the 2200 block of Catalina Avenue was “so substandard and severely blighted” that nothing could be salvaged, Burbank Housing Corp Executive Director Judith Arandes said.

BHC inked a loan with the Burbank Redevelopment Agency for the $2.8 million project and BHC, a nonprofit, will own and operate the project, Arandes said.


“We can use the space more efficiently with the new design,” she said. “We’re able to maximize space for more units and more amenities, such as parking.”

The existing buildings on four adjacent parcels will be totally razed before construction on the project begins, which could happen as soon as December, Arandes said.

The project also includes an apartment building on the east side of the street that is being rehabbed. Work on the seven-unit building could be completed by December, she said, with work on the entire project wrapped up by Jan. 2013.

The timetable is in line with a short arc for the project.


“We went into escrow September 2010 and in one year a plan was submitted and approved, we relocated residents and we’re ready to go,” Arandes said. “It’s gone very fast.”

Demolition of several single-story residences, an apartment building and garages started at about 11 a.m. Thursday to make way for the new project.

A few neighbors peeked out of from their balconies at a tractor tearing down a pink one-story building. City employees looked on and others cheered as the tractor knocked down walls, crunched through windows and flattened a roof.

“I’m having so much fun,” Arandes said. “It’s been a lot of work and this is a good sign that we’re getting it done.”

Five new buildings will go up on the four parcels, along with a courtyard, community rooms and semi-subterranean parking, she added.

“It’s going to beautify the neighborhood,” Mayor Jess Talamantes said at the demolition. “It’s good for the police department and fire department. In upgrading the project, I hope the surrounding property owners will improve their properties as well.”

The apartments will be offered to tenants who fall into the extremely-low, very-low, lower- and moderate-income groups, Arandes said.

Rents charged are proportionate to income, Arandes said.


Rent would be $432 for a family in the extremely-low income bracket, for example, she said, adding that costs for gas and electricity are deducted from the rent, so the housing cost doesn’t exceed $432.

A family of four earning less than $25,600 falls in the extremely-low income bracket; incomes below $42,700 are considered very low; incomes under $68,300 are considered lower income; and incomes below $76,800 are considered moderate.

The numbers are based on 2011 affordable rent and income limits for Los Angeles County set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.