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The Camino del Mar and Vista del Mar Apartments Complete the New Dana Strand Revitalization Project in Los Angeles, California

Photograph of the front and side facades of a contemporary three-story building surrounded by sidewalks and landscaping.Opened in 2018, Camino del Mar and Vista del Mar provide 176 affordable apartments in the revitalized Dana Strand development in Wilmington, California. Credit: Abode Communities, photos courtesy of Walton Construction

Opened in 2018, the Camino del Mar and Vista del Mar affordable housing developments represent the fourth and final phase of the New Dana Strand Revitalization project in the oceanside Wilmington neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) began planning the ambitious revitalization, which focused on replacing a distressed 50-year-old public housing community, in 2000. The Camino del Mar and Vista del Mar projects provide 176 affordable apartment units in a development designed according to community preferences and featuring more than 35,000 square feet of recreational and green space. The $71 million project was developed by a partnership consisting of HACLA and nonprofit developers Abode Communities and Mercy Housing California.

A New Vision for Dana Strand

By 2000, the 20.7-acre public housing development of Dana Strand was in distress. Initially built in 1950 as temporary postwar housing, the development was physically dilapidated, and residents of the 384 units grappled with crime and gang activity that profoundly affected the neighborhood’s overall quality of life. HACLA recognized the pressing need for change at the development and began planning the New Dana Strand Revitalization project. Even during the project’s earliest stages, HACLA prioritized input from residents and community members, engaging the public by holding meetings, creating resident and community advisory councils, and soliciting input from property management and resident services staff. In January 2002, HACLA received a grant of nearly $3.3 million from HUD’s HOPE VI program to tear down Dana Strand. Demolishing the 68 buildings took 2 years, and by 2004, the site was ready to receive the community’s new vision.

Aerial photograph of a portside neighborhood of primarily multifamily housing, interspersed with greenspace, parking, and a children’s play area in the foreground.The twin developments represent the fourth and final phase of the New Dana Strand Redevelopment, an undertaking begun by the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles in 2000. Credit: Abode Communities, photos courtesy of Walton Construction

The redevelopment proceeded in four phases, with HACLA retaining ownership of the land and bringing in developers to continue the public engagement process, plan a responsive redevelopment, and rebuild Dana Strand. HACLA selected two nonprofit developers, Abode Communities and Mercy Housing California, which partnered to carry out Phases I and II. These phases included the construction of the 120-unit Harbor View Place, a low-rise garden-style development, and the 116-unit Wilmington Townhomes. Another entity, ROEM Development, built the 100-unit affordable Dana Strand Senior Apartments as Phase III. Mercy Housing California, the owner of Wilmington Townhomes, and Abode Communities, owner of Harbor View Place and manager of both Phase II developments, partnered again in 2016 for Phase IV’s Camino del Mar and Vista del Mar.

These two developments, which are visually indistinguishable, consist of 25 midrise buildings on 8 parcels scattered throughout the Dana Strand neighborhood. These lots were initially reserved for single-family housing in accordance with community preferences, but after the 2008 housing market crash and the economy’s sluggish recovery afterward, HACLA and its partners determined that multifamily rental developments would be a more prudent choice for the long-term sustainability of the area. As they had done in Phases I and II, the affordable housing developers became co-general partners, with each serving as managing general partner for one of the developments. Because Camino del Mar and Vista del Mar are scattered-site, infill developments, they help create a cohesive neighborhood atmosphere, something residents had desired. “Vista and Camino were the final component to create an integrated, equitable community,” says Robin Hughes, Abode Communities’ president and chief executive officer.

Photograph of a colorful, brightly-lit room with tables, seating, and wall art.Camino and Vista del Mar each have a resident services center, where residents can gather or receive a wide range of services from Abode Communities or its many partner organizations. Credit: Abode Communities, photos courtesy of Walton Construction

Phase IV features 88 units in each of the identical developments for a total of 176 units. The 25 two- and three-story buildings each have 8 to 10 units arranged around outdoor courtyards featuring gathering spaces, barbecue areas, and community gardens. The twin developments have 24 one-bedroom, 42 two-bedroom, and 110 three-bedroom units between them. Eighteen units are accessible to tenants with mobility impairments, and nine units are accessible to those with sensory handicaps. Phase IV received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification, and all buildings have ENERGY STAR® appliances; low-flow fixtures; and high-efficiency heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems. One unit in each development is reserved for an onsite manager. Phase IV maximizes affordability with 174 project-based Section 8 vouchers issued by HACLA.

The two projects had a combined $71 million in permanent development costs. Equity from the sale of low-income housing tax credits contributed $27.4 million of funding, and Citi Community Capital issued a $34.1 million mortgage. The remaining $9.2 million consisted of additional tax credit equity brokered as the result of HACLA’s issuance of Section 8 vouchers and a $7.8 million capitalized ground lease loan from HACLA.

Comprehensive Support and a Neighborhood Feel

Enhancing the neighborhood ambience created by the scattered, lower-density buildings is the two developments’ use of outdoor space. The Camino del Mar and Vista del Mar buildings are clustered around landscaped courtyards with seating, barbecue stations, tot lots with playground equipment, and other amenities such as rock climbing walls. This shared green space integrates each lot with the surrounding development. The Dana Strand project has a combined 35,000 square feet of open and recreational space, with walking paths that prioritize pedestrian circulation and neighborhood connectivity. These paths also provide vital linkages to neighborhood amenities such as the Hawaiian Avenue Elementary School STEAM Magnet program, Phase II’s Providence Little Company of Mary’s Wellness and Activity Center, and the Wilmington Waterfront Park.

Abode Communities provides its resident services program, Beyond Homes, to residents of Dana Strand’s multifamily developments. These services work to empower youth through education, build adult capacity, form bonds within the community, and help residents remain stable in their housing in times of crisis. Abode Communities also partners with more than 100 service providers to provide specialty services in areas such as health, transportation, and food stability. Hughes reports that approximately 99 percent of households living in the Phase IV developments participate in Beyond Homes.

Once a distressed community of less than 400 units, today the New Dana Strand is a bustling neighborhood with a community-informed design, a wide range of supportive services for residents, and a total capacity of 512 units serving nearly 1,700 families. As of summer 2020, both Camino del Mar and Vista del Mar are fully occupied with a combined waiting list of more than 2,500 households.

Source:

Abode Communities. n.d. “About.” Accessed 15 June 2020; Abode Communities. n.d. “Grand Opening of Camino del Mar & Vista del Mar Hallmarks Nearly Two Decades of Community Revitalization Effort at Dana Strand.” Accessed 15 June 2020; Mercy Housing. n.d. “About.” Accessed 15 June 2020; Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles. 2017. "174 New Affordable Units in Wilmington." Accessed 15 June 2020.

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Source:

Abode Communities. n.d. “Grand Opening of Camino del Mar & Vista del Mar Hallmarks Nearly Two Decades of Community Revitalization Effort at Dana Strand.” Accessed 15 June 2020; Interview with Robin Hughes, president and chief executive officer, Abode Communities. 9 July 2020.

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Source:

Interview with Robin Hughes, president and chief executive officer, Abode Communities. 9 July 2020; Correspondence with Tina Howell, marketing manager, Abode Communities, 28 July 2020.

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Source:

Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles. 2017. "174 New Affordable Units in Wilmington." Accessed 15 June 2020; Correspondence with Tina Howell, marketing manager, Abode Communities, 28 July 2020; Correspondence with Megan Folland, director of communications and fund development, Abode Communities, 29 July 2020.

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Source:

Abode Communities. n.d. “Grand Opening of Camino del Mar & Vista del Mar Hallmarks Nearly Two Decades of Community Revitalization Effort at Dana Strand.” Accessed 15 June 2020; Documents provided by Megan Folland, director of communications and fund development for Abode Communities.

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Source:

Correspondence with Megan Folland, director of communications and fund development, Abode Communities, 29 July 2020; Interview with Robin Hughes, Abode Communities. 9 July 2020.

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Source:

Interview with Robin Hughes, Abode Communities. 9 July 2020.

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Source:

Correspondence with Megan Folland, director of communications and fund development, Abode Communities, 29 July 2020.

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