By Jeff Clemetson | Editor
Housing and homeless are major problems in San Diego, and as the baby boomers age, both senior housing and homeless seniors have the potential to be even bigger problems. But a proposed housing project in Grantville could be a blueprint for the solution to housing seniors in danger of becoming homeless.
On Nov. 8, Wakeland Housing & Development Corporation — a nonprofit, affordable housing developer that has built dozens of apartment communities throughout the state — presented a proposed housing project to be built on the southwest corner of Mission Gorge Road and Glacier Avenue on the lot where the Good Guys car dealership currently resides.
Wakeland project manager Jonathan Taylor presented a basic plan for the complex, which he called “Glacier Avenue mixed use.
“It’s so early in the development that we don’t have a clever name for it yet,” he said.
The project is a mixed-use building with approximately 75 residential units for medically frail seniors who have experienced or are at risk of becoming homeless.
“The site is about 1 acre and according to initial yield studies, we would be able to fit about 100 units on the site, but at this point we’re proposing about 75,” Taylor said.
Besides the residential apartments, the building will also house a 6,700-square-foot alternative care facility operated by St. Paul’s PACE for the benefit of residents and neighbors who are participants in PACE (Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly).
“It is similar to a clinic, but it’s not a state-regulated clinic. It is actually a federally regulated clinic that’s part of the PACE program, which is a national program, operated locally by St. Paul’s,” he said.
PACE is a Medicare and Medicaid program that helps people meet their health care needs in the community instead of going to a nursing home or other care facility.
Taylor said the type of the project is called “permanent supported housing.”
“The folks that live there will rent their apartment unit just like anybody else with a lease, but also will be provided with supportive services in order for them to live successfully in that apartment,” he said. “Our service partner is St. Paul’s and they will be operating this facility onsite for the purpose of caring for folks who reside in the community.”
The onsite clinic will be part of St. Paul’s PACE program and service local seniors in the community beyond the residents who live in the apartments. St. Paul’s transports seniors in the program from their private residences to medical clinics and other important errands. The proposed clinic parking design allows for off-street passenger loading and unloading for easy operations of PACE vans.
“You may be familiar with the St. Paul’s PACE vans,” Taylor said. “They’re the teal green vans you see providing transportation for participants to PACE clinics.”
As of now, the proposed project will have 62 parking spaces — 26 spaces for the clinic, accessed from Mission Gorge Road, and 36 residential spaces accessed from the alley.
“It is more parking than we actually need,” Taylor said. “Most of the residents will not have cars but nonetheless, per regulations, we do need to provide some parking.”
Although Wakeland is delivering adequate parking, they could have provided less by taking advantage of state low-income housing density bonus rules that would allow them to build a more dense project and get waivers for parking spaces, but Taylor said they are not considering it at this time.
What the project will include at this time is a four-floor building with PACE clinic and common areas on ground floor and three floors of residential above it; pedestrian access from Glacier Avenue; easy, secured access to the units; centrally located lobby with direct pedestrian and parking access; two stairwells; and 5-foot-wide planted parkways; 10-foot-wide sidewalks; foundation planter beds; and storefront windows for a view of the neighborhood.
“The ground-floor level will be a very glassy, inviting, open area,” Taylor said, adding that Wakeland is working with Studio E Architects on the design of the building, which will be similar to a recent project the two firms completed in San Diego called Talmadge Gateway.
Wakeland’s timeline for the project starts by finalizing acquisition of the project by the first quarter of 2018; completing the financing and plan development during the rest of 2018; and begining construction the first quarter of 2019. Construction will take around 18 months and Taylor said he hopes the project will be open in late 2020, although he admitted that would be unlikely.
“That would be an incredible best-case scenario that everything would line up and we would be able to actually break ground that soon,” he said.
—Reach Jeff Clemetson at firstname.lastname@example.org.