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Long Beach: After Rocky Road, Senior Housing Complex Breaking Ground

A rendering of the Ramona Park Senior Housing Apartments. Picture courtesy of Councilmember Steve Neal.

Following a tumultuous and rocky undergoing, the Ramona Park Senior Apartment complex along Artesia Boulevard and Downey Avenue will break ground next Tuesday.

The 60-unit Long Beach Housing Development Company building--though not an original Redevelopment Agency (RDA) project which, when it was dissolved, took away a debilitating $1 billion in annual affordable-housing support--still initially needed approval from the RDA Successor Agency which oversees the now-dissolved RDA projects as well as the Oversight Board. This was due to the fact that the proposed $12.4 million the city had planned on using to develop the project were via bonds initially issued for the affordable housing functions of the former RDA.

Given the scope and cost of the project--including a $12.4M loan from Long Beach Housing Development Company, a $6.9M equity contribution from WNC, a $1.5M land seller carry back loan from Farmers and Merchants Bank of Long Beach, and a $1.3M conventional loan from CCRC--also had to seek approval from the State Department of Finance (DOF).

The project was initially rejected this past December by the DOF, giving a sad blow to North Long Beach's Artesia Corridor given the need for a streetscape facelift, as well as a damper on revitalizing the Belwood Arms Apartments at 6301 Atlantic. Given that funds from Props 46 and 1C, both state housing bonds, have been almost entirely exhausted, Ramona's future was not looking too bright.

However, that decision was ultimately overturned on January 10, mostly due to AB 1484, the state's cleanup legislation that permits affordable housing bonds to be used for affordable housing during the RDA's dissolution. In addition, a letter from local leaders pleading to help the now-vacated Farmer & Merchants "blight" on the neighborhood helped the DOF reconsider.

The project is anticipated to last 15 months, with a three month followup leasing period. 49 one-bedroom and 11 two-bedroom units will be available, with one manager unit overseeing the building. According to the plans, the three-story building will be home to a community center for access to community kitchens, computers, and library, as well as a swimming pool, circuit-training course around the site, and a space to engage in social services such as health and financial management courses.

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