OAKLAND — The state’s efforts to limit global warming have netted $49.78 million for affordable housing in the city, and $240 million more for 21 other projects around the state.
In Oakland, the funds will allow Resources for Community Development to buy the Empyrean Hotel and use the rest of its $16.8 million allocation to upgrade it and the Harrison Hotel, another century-old, seven-story downtown residency hotel the nonprofit owns.
Meanwhile, UrbanCore Development will spend $14.8 million of the money to build 110 mixed-income apartments on a BART parking lot near the Coliseum.
In addition, UrbanCore and the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation were awarded $18.1 million to build 91 affordable apartments on 12th Street near Lake Merritt. The project also includes 270 mostly market-rate apartments, with 18 reserved for moderate-income tenants.
“This is a win-win for Oakland and for California,” Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, said in announcing the grants. “We are protecting the environment and promoting public health by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time helping people afford to live near where they work,” he said.
The money, allocated by the state’s Strategic Growth Council, comes from California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, made up of cap-and-trade fees from industries most responsible for producing greenhouse gases, including refineries, electricity providers, natural gas suppliers and glass, lead, lime, nitric acid and cement makers.
Resources for Community Development’s $4.5 million option to buy the bankrupt Empyrean was contingent on getting the state funds, said Jessica Sheldon, its associate director of housing development.
The Empyrean had a history of poor management and code violations and will need extensive renovation work, including a new elevator and roof, she said.
The space will be converted to a dozen one-bedroom and 54 studio apartments with bathrooms and kitchenettes, down from the current 99 rooms, she said.
They will be rented to low-income individuals and small households.
The Harrison, which Resources for Community Development has owned since 1994, “won’t change substantially,” Sheldon said. “We’ll take what it is and make it better.”
The reduced rents charged Harrison tenants have not allowed for upgrades, she said. The money will be spent on new baths, flooring, cabinetry, plumbing, a new elevator and energy-efficiency improvements that “will make it sustainable for another 20 to 30 years,” she said.
Thirteen apartments are reserved for people with special needs and 59 for those with special needs who are also at risk of homelessness.
“We think it’s important to keep these buildings available to low-income residents,” Sheldon said.
Both the Empyrean/Harrison project and the 12th Street development, named LakeHouse Commons, include added bike lanes and pedestrian accommodations, such as new lighting for LakeHouse tenants to better access the Lake Merritt BART station, and new AC Transit bus service and bus passes. Both the city and AC Transit will get some of the funds for those efforts.
The Coliseum project, Coliseum Connections, will offer ready access to mass transit with the BART station right outside its doors.
Bike lanes, improved bike access to the BART station, a hybrid AC Transit bus and a new bus route along International Boulevard are also part of the plan.
Of its 110 apartments, half are intended for those making between 50 and 60 percent of the area median income, which is $64,500. The other half will target “workforce tenants” making between 80 and 120 percent of the area median income.
UrbanCore’s collaboration on 12th Street with East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation came about after activists protested original plans to only build market-rate housing there.
The market-rate housing planned for the 12th Street site makes the 90-unit affordable housing component feasible at no cost to the city, East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation Executive Director Joshua Simon wrote in announcing the partnership with UrbanCore in December.
The affordable housing, available to those making between 30 and 60 percent of area median income, means the apartments will be accessible to “teachers, care-givers, security guards, receptionists, construction laborers and nonprofit workers — a population of the workforce that needs affordable home options in Oakland more than ever,” Simon wrote.
Contact Mark Hedin at 510-293-2452, 408-759-2132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.