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City receives $13.9 million for Childs and B project

Mike Conway

Post Date:06/21/2019

State awards Merced project $13.9 million

Transit-oriented housing project will create 119 units

A state grant awarded today will result in the construction of 119 affordable apartments to address the City's housing needs while creating a transit-oriented project in South Merced.

The California Strategic Growth Council announced the City will receive $13,949,300 for the Childs and B Street TOD Affordable Housing Project. The funding is part of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program.

The new apartment complex will have 30 units with permanent support care for individuals experiencing homelessness, providing them with the health and other services they need. The other 89 units will provide accommodations for households that meet 60 percent of the average median income.

'The announcement is great news for the community and will help provide affordable housing and housing options for individuals experiencing homelessness,' said Mayor Mike Murphy. 'This fits in perfectly with the proposed Regional Homeless Plan by providing permanent supportive housing, which is key to providing solutions to helping get people off of the streets.

'This grant has far-ranging benefits, both in housing and transit that we wouldn't have without this apartment complex,' the Mayor said. 'It provides City residents with 2.5 miles of new bikeways and street improvements including curb-gutter construction that will help solve a flooding problem that has been an issue in this area for years.'

The project will cost a total of $41.9 million, with the additional funds coming from tax credits, grants and loans.

Rick Westburg represents the project developer, the Richman Group LLC, the nation's seventh largest rental apartment owner. The firm has 115,000 units in 49 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and Saipan.

'The Richman Group is incredibly honored to partner with the City and County of Merced, and now the Strategic Growth Council, to develop sustainable housing and transit-oriented infrastructure that will be a tremendous asset for the community of Merced," said Westburg, who oversaw the writing of the grant.

Mayor Pro Tem Anthony Martinez represents District 1, where the housing complex is located.

'This is great news, not just for the city, but for the district as well,' Martinez said. 'Along with developing units, this grant will provide needed improvements to the neighborhood. These improvements include replacing a water main, adding a park, road upgrades, installing street lights and building nearly a mile of sidewalks to improve walkability.'

'We all know that the scarcity of affordable housing and homelessness are major issues throughout the state of California. This project, which will provide over 100 units of affordable housing, shows that the city and county of Merced are ready to be Central Valley leaders in tackling these problems,' Martinez said.

Many of the community-wide benefits from the project come from the transit-related aspects of the project. The City will see its first electric bus operated by MCAG because of the grant. The grant includes new and replaced sidewalks along Childs Avenue, ADA curb ramping on a number of street corners, five new pedestrian crosswalks and shared bike lane markings (sharrows) on 13th Street.

The Strategic Growth Council cited a number of other transportation-related aspects of the project:

  • The added bikeways to tie the project neighborhood to transit and key destinations

  • A new bus stop and bus shelter with bike racks and benches

  • Merced Bike Coalition educational workshops for residents to encourage safe ridership

The apartment complex will consist of five 3-story buildings with a mix of one, two and three bedroom units. There will be a number of common areas in the project, plus a nearly 5,000 square-foot community center. Those rooms can host Thanksgiving dinners for the residents, or social service and education sessions arranged by Merced County. The complex will also have:

  • A computer center

  • A fitness room

  • Laundry facilities

  • Children's play areas

  • Additional areas for recreation and gardening.

The City Housing Division and Development Services Department coordinate affordable housing projects for the City.

'The Childs and B St. Project is more than just housing. It's a model for development that brings transportation to residential areas and for partnerships working to address community needs,' Development Services Director Scott McBride said.

'Solution-oriented affordable housing requires coordination, innovation, and support from many different agencies to be successful,' McBride said. He said the project involved:

  • Strategic Growth Council

  • Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

  • Assemblyman Adam Gray

  • Merced County

  • Merced County Association of Governments

  • Central Valley Coalition for Affordable Housing

  • Central Valley Alliance for Health

  • Housing Authority of Merced County

  • Merced Bicycle Coalition

  • Richman Group LLC as the developer

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