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Costa Mesa Senior Center lot could be site of 60-unit housing development for low-income seniors

Costa Mesa Senior Center
The Costa Mesa City Council entered an agreement with the Jamboree Housing Corporation to explore building a 60-unit low-income development on part of the parking lot of the city-owned senior center.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The city of Costa Mesa has entered into an agreement with the nonprofit Jamboree Housing Corp. to examine the feasibility of building a 60-unit senior housing development on part of the parking lot of the city-owned Costa Mesa Senior Center.

City Council members Tuesday approved entering into an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Irvine-based affordable housing developer, which is interested in possibly building a two- and three-story structure on a .9-acre portion of the lot.

The 2.7-acre property, located at 695 W. 19th St., is currently zoned for the local business district and has a general commercial land use designation.

The Costa Mesa Senior Center
The Costa Mesa Senior Center is a city-owned property that may be the ideal site for a 60-unit residential development for low-income seniors, officials said Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

While concrete plans have yet to be drawn up, what’s proposed so far is a podium-construction-style structure that would maintain 145 parking lot spaces at the senior center and provide 33 new parking stalls for residents.

The building would have a three-story frontage along W. 19th Street, while portions of the unit abutting nearby Plumer Street would have a two-story elevation. The one-bedroom/one-bathroom units would be between 530 and 560 square feet, according to a conceptual site plan.

The agreement approved Tuesday allows representatives to analyze the property and terms by which Jamboree might develop the property and secure a long-term lease for operation of the structure.

Michael Massie, the nonprofit’s chief housing development officer, said the agreement will allow his organization to determine the parcel’s suitability for development as well as how the project might fit into the surrounding community.

If the group determines the site would be appropriate for development, members will bring a refined plan and a timeline back to the City Council for approval.

“Very top of mind for us is going to be the community engagement — that’s a process we take very seriously,” he said. “Our funding sources would require of a lease of about 55 years, so we plan on being in the neighborhood for a very long time.”

The proposed Costa Mesa units would provide affordable housing options for low, very low and extremely low-income seniors, whose income roughly translates to about 80%, 50% and 30%, respectively, of Orange County’s median income, which Massie placed at around $100,000.

Very low-income seniors might pay around $1,200 a month for a unit, while extremely low-income seniors would pay closer to $700 per month, he estimated.

Economic and Development Services Director Barry Curtis said the project, if realized, would help the city meet its upcoming state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Allocation, which could call on the city to accommodate 11,727 units in its upcoming sixth cycle housing element, from 2021 to 2029.

“This site seems to be an appropriate location to consider for the development of affordable housing,” Curtis said.

Councilwoman Sandy Genis advised the city to obtain a legal analysis regarding the potential leasing of the site, given the passage of Assembly Bill 1486, which established reporting requirements for civically held property.

Mayor Katrina Foley said she’s excited a plan to make good use of the lot is finally in sight. The property was eyed for such a development in the city housing element’s fourth cycle in 2008.

“I wanted us to put housing at the senior center since 2008, and here we are, we’re finally getting an agreement to even have the conceptual conversation about it,” Foley said. “That’s great progress for Costa Mesa.”

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