Marshall-Arguello Apartment Complex Won’t Provide Affordable Housing Units

The project is the first to be approved in the downtown area and will bring 116 units of residential housing, but none at below market rates.

The Planning Commission Tuesday night approved a seven-story apartment complex at 201 Marshall, providing the housing that many . Yet the development will not have any affordable housing units.

The abolished the city’s ability to persuade developers to include below market rate units, according to Community Development Director .

Thus the developer “has no reason to provide these units on its own dime,” Ekern added.

Vice Chair Ernie Schmidt voiced his concern because affordable housing was something that the city had highlighted in the new .

“It seems like we’re taking some steps back now,” Schmidt said. “So we have to inform our community about this.”

For further negotiations with developers, he suggested a “give and take,” perhaps not the standard 15 percent of units at below market rates, but possibly 5 or 10 percent. A city can then grant certain concessions, such as more units than allowed for example, in return for affordable housing units.


The First in Downtown

Yet the absence of affordable units did not dampen the excitement of the Planning Commission.

“I just want to congratulate the developer for being the first major developer in our downtown,” said Schmidt.

The complex will have 9 percent studios, 55 percent one-bedroom units and 34 percent two-bedroom units. The three live-work units with 12-foot ceilings along Arguello will “activate that street,” said Jason Check, the director of developer Raintree Partners.

The city had requested these units to not only allow people to live on the bottom floor, but to stimulate activity as well for potential artists or other tradespeople.

“It’s been a long-time coming,” said property owner Matt Madison. “We’re delighted that, despite the delays, we’re finally here to fulfill the residential vision of the downtown.”

Raintree Partners was in compliance with all city standards set by the Downtown Precise Plan, such as building height and zone use. The complex will have a 156-space underground garage, exceeding the minimum required 135 spaces.

“This project felt easy to approve because the Downtown Precise Plan lays out all the requirements for approval,” said Commissioner Rachel Holt. “And this fit into our vision for downtown so we could say ‘yeah, go for it.’”

Stories are 86 feet high and the complex will be a “contemporary” style, an acceptable architectural designation to fit in with the surrounding buildings near the county center.

Of the 405 guidelines in the Downtown Precise Plan, the developers did not follow eight of the recommendations, but the Architectural Advisory Committee felt that these aesthetic discrepancies should not impede the approval of the development.

The environmental impact report found that there would be no new impacts from the new development.

“This is a great project,” said Commissioner Nancy Radcliffe. “I hope to see more projects from you.”

Raintree Partners is a multifamily developer that has also developed the Archstone Redwood Shores apartments as well as a project in Sunnyvale.


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J January 13, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Shameful and greedy to make none of these units affordable. I'd also like to know exactly what the eight "aesthetic" recommendations are that they will NOT be following.
Jason Seifer January 19, 2012 at 11:08 PM
This is great news for Downtown! We need more residents living in Downtown to support the local businesses.
Roger Brina March 15, 2012 at 07:34 PM
I am excited to see more housing being built downtown, because if the small businesses (mostly restaurants) that exist downtown are to survive and thrive then they need that customer base. I also strongly support downtown infill over the Saltworks project. But I am sick of hearing repeated lip service from city officials about the need for affordable housing when they clearly aren't making any effort to use what power they have in their roles to push for it. At the very least they shouldn't be trying to "congratulate the developer for being the first major developer in our downtown" or saying things like “I hope to see more projects from you” when they've also admitted that this developer is going against their own Precise Plan with regards to affordable housing. If we're at a point where the Precise Plan is relegated to being an abstract ideal we hope to reach and not actually a binding agreement on how RWC is developed, then what we're dealing with is a charade and after a certain point "showing concern" becomes meaningless.
Darko April 23, 2013 at 02:27 PM
Glad to see more units, the more new units that get built the more affordable all units in the city/bay area are. The best way to get affordable housing is to allow developers to build higher density so that the price of the land has a smaller cost compared to total ratio. Forcing the other renters in the building to subsidize the price for affordable housing puts the whole weight on the other renters so if you want affordable housing you should push for increasing the minimum bar to qualify for welfare, at least then it's distributed 50% of the country that pays taxed.


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