Photograph of the front and side façades of a 3-story multifamily building with wood siding and a pitched roof; a sign to the side of the building reads “Wexford Way and Carlow Court at Emerald Vista,” and similar buildings are in the background.
Photograph of the front façade of a three-story multifamily building with newly planted trees and shrubs in front of the building.
Photograph of a green space and small playground surrounded by multifamily buildings.
Photograph of parking spaces covered by a carport roof with solar panels; several multifamily buildings are in the background.
Photograph of a large room with ten oval tables and 5 chairs at each table.
Photograph of a landscaped area with raised planting beds, tables, and benches along a central sidewalk and multifamily buildings in the background.
Photograph of a three-story building containing five townhouses fronted by a landscaped area.

 

Home >Case Studies >Public-Private Partnership Transforms Public Housing into Mixed-Income Development in Dublin, California

 

Public-Private Partnership Transforms Public Housing into Mixed-Income Development in Dublin, California

 

In the mid-2000s, the city council of Dublin, California, sitting as the board of the Dublin Housing Authority, faced increasing complaints from the residents of Arroyo Vista, the city’s only public housing development. The 150 units at the 25-year-old development were in disrepair, but the cost of rehabilitation was prohibitive. Thanks to its partnership with the Housing Authority of the County of Alameda (HACA), affordable housing developer Eden Housing, and for-profit homebuilder KB Home, the city turned this daunting challenge into an opportunity, transforming the low-density, deteriorating property into Emerald Vista, an award-winning mixed-income, mixed-use development. The new development not only increased the number of affordable housing units on the site but also added market-rate and affordable for-sale homes for a total of 378 residences.

Located 35 miles east of San Francisco in one of the most expensive regional housing markets in the country, Dublin has a growing population of more than 46,000. The city needs more housing, including more affordable rental opportunities, and the redevelopment of Arroyo Vista presented an opportunity to not only replace the rundown public housing but also diversify the development’s housing types for a broader mix of income levels. Emerald Vista meets the needs of low-income and workforce households in Dublin, where approximately 40 percent of renters in the city paid more than 30 percent of their household income on gross rent from 2009 to 2013.

A Public-Private Partnership

The unique four-way partnership among Dublin, HACA, Eden Housing, and KB Home made Emerald Vista possible. The partners brought their own strengths to the project, making possible accomplishments they could not have achieved on their own. Although the buildings were declining assets, Dublin owned a large parcel of land in a desirable location. With the help of HACA staff, who conceived the redevelopment plan, Dublin was able to unlock the value of the land, leveraging the proceeds of the sale of a portion of the site to a for-profit builder (initially Citation Homes, who later sold to KB Home) to increase the number of assisted rental units on the site. Through its inclusionary zoning requirements, Dublin was also able to add workforce homeownership units. Eden Housing shared the costs of infrastructure development with KB Home and reaped substantial savings from the buying power of the much larger company. Finally, as an ongoing partner, Dublin worked closely with the developers to prepare and certify environmental approvals and to facilitate design review and permitting.

Project Features

Emerald Vista features 378 housing units at a density consistent with that of the surrounding area. Eden Housing developed and owns Carlow Court, a building with 49 one-bedroom units for seniors and a two-bedroom unit for the property manager, and Wexford Way, several buildings containing 130 family apartments, of which 12 are one-bedroom units, 66 are two-bedroom units, 36 are three-bedroom units, and 16 are four-bedroom units. Rents for the apartments are targeted to households earning 30 to 55 percent of the area median income (AMI). All senior units at Carlow Court and 32 of the family units at Wexford Way are subsidized by project-based vouchers administered by HACA. As of August 2015, 34 other Wexford Way units were occupied by households with tenant-based vouchers administered by HACA. At that time, HACA’s waiting lists for its new developments — more than 1,600 for Emerald Vista’s project-based voucher apartments and more than 2,200 for the senior apartments — underscore the area’s high demand for affordable rental units.

The senior apartments are adaptable so that residents can age in place. A service coordinator assists residents with socialization and wellness, including programs aimed at fall prevention. In addition, Wells Fargo, a financial partner in the redevelopment, provides residents with money management and fraud prevention counseling.

The for-sale homes consist of 128 townhouses and 70 detached houses on small lots. In accordance with the city’s inclusionary zoning requirement, 14 of these homes are affordable to moderate-income buyers earning from 60 to 120 percent of AMI under a deed restriction that is effective for 55 years.

Emerald Vista includes a community room that hosts afterschool programs for residents and a childcare center that is open to the public. The development is near bus lines that offer easy access to the Dublin/Pleasanton Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station. Residents can also access a trail along Alamo Creek that connects to the Iron Horse Regional Trail, offering a pedestrian and bike route to the BART station. The site has a central courtyard, and green spaces and tot lots are located throughout the property.

In addition to its ready access to transit, the development’s sustainable aspects include solar water heaters, photovoltaic panels for energy production, the use of green building materials, and the reuse of more than 80 percent of the concrete from the previous public housing. Under the GreenPoint Rated program, the affordable housing portion of the development achieved a Gold certification.

Finances

Out of more than $135 million in total development costs, approximately $55 million went to the development of the affordable rental housing in Wexford Way and Carlow Court (table 1). Dublin’s significant investment in the rental housing projects included fees collected from developers in lieu of their constructing affordable housing. In addition, tax-exempt bonds, low-income housing tax credits, and funds from HACA’s sale of the parcel to the for-profit developers contributed to project financing.

Table 1. Wexford Way and Carlow Court Financing

City of Dublin loan

$6.6 million

HACA loan

11.0 million

California Community Reinvestment Corporation loan

14.6 million

Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco Affordable Housing Program (via Silicon Valley Bank)

1.3 million

Wells Fargo loan

21.1 million

Total

$54.6 million

Partnership

The four-way public-private partnership among the city of Dublin, HACA, Eden Housing, and KB Home was the key to transforming an asset of rapidly declining value into a critically needed resource. By all accounts, the partners worked well together toward the common goal of creating mixed-income housing with a net gain in affordable units. They collaborated to solve problems as they emerged, and they persisted through a number of challenges, including the financial crisis. Emerald Vista has garnered national attention for its successful redevelopment of public housing and has won several awards, including the Urban Land Institute’s Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable and Workforce Housing Award in 2014.


 

Source:

Interview with Chris Gouig, executive director of the Housing Authority of the County of Alameda, 24 August 2015.

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Source:

U.S. Census Bureau. “2009–2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates,” American FactFinder. Accessed 31 August 2015.

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Source:

Interview with Linda Mandolini, president of Eden Housing, 27 August 2015; Interview with Kristi Bascom, principal planner for the city of Dublin, 28 August 2015.

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Source:

Interview with Chris Gouig, executive director of the Housing Authority of the County of Alameda, 24 August 2015; Document provided by Eden Housing.

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Source:

Interview with Linda Mandolini, president of Eden Housing, 27 August 2015. ×

Source:

Urban Land Institute. 2014. “Emerald Vista.” Accessed 31 August 2015; Interview with Kristi Bascom, principal planner for the city of Dublin, 28 August 2015. ×

Source:

Interview with Linda Mandolini, president of Eden Housing, 27 August 2015; Interview with Kristi Bascom, principal planner for the city of Dublin, 28 August 2015.

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Source:

Document provided by Eden Housing.

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Source:

Urban Land Institute. 2014. “Emerald Vista.” Accessed 31 August 2015; Document provided by Eden Housing.

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Source:

Interview with Chris Gouig, executive director of the Housing Authority of the County of Alameda, 24 August 2015; Interview with Linda Mandolini, president of Eden Housing, 27 August 2015; Interview with Kristi Bascom, principal planner of the City of Dublin, 28 August 2015; Urban Land Institute. 2014. “Emerald Vista.” Accessed 31 August 2015; Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition. 2014. “AHTCC Announces Winners of the 20th Annual Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Awards,” press release, 7 May. Accessed 10 September 2015.

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